I met my wife on a holiday after final university exams. A year later we got married and had our first daughter Chloe. I had decided to do my photography on a personal basis by then, and to also develop my film and writing skills. It was more satisfying this way because I had time to bond with Chloe while my wife was working.
Later I broke into documentary photography for non-profits, but this was because the pay was good. Little did I know I was being prepared for a greater calling by God. My first gig with Oxfam was in a refugee settlement in West Nile, Uganda, during the influx of South Sudanese refugees. The sight of children as old as Chloe suffering traumatized me. They were hungry, angry, and naked or half-clothed with swarming flies around their faces. They had travelled over fifty miles on foot to get to Uganda.
I did my work, but back at the hotel I could not sleep. I kept picturing my own Chloe in the same situation and guilt engulfed me. I was sleeping in a hotel for about $60.00, and making good pay, but for what? Photographing a group of suffering, homeless people? I tried to pray that night but failed. Instead, I asked God the following… “Lord show me my purpose here, not for me but for Your people.”
Days passed and I saw Oxfam’s blog post about that same project we were working on. The responses people made gave me courage to continue. I knew my photos were out there making a difference and I vowed to never charge Oxfam a lot for any humanitarian work they were doing. They never knew why I always charged them less compared to other photographers, but deep within me I was happy to respond to my calling while being able to feed my family.
I guess we all have that moment that God uses to bring us to our calling, but it takes free will to be selfless and to desire to live not only for ourselves but for others too. At times it will get you out of your comfort zone but that is exactly what it takes to serve others on His behalf. At times this work will take you to undesired places, like the northern and West Nile regions of Uganda infested with Hepatitis B. But that never stopped me.
When the Lord called Moses he had only his staff, which he later used to deliver the children of Israel out of captivity. The same staff was raised to part the Red Sea for them to cross. It doesn’t matter how rich or poor you are, whatever you have in your hand, God will use it to serve His people. So I use my skills of photography, film and writing to tell people’s stories to the world. You never know who is watching or listening—maybe they have the resources to help.
Many times we think giving requires only money, but we should not be like that wicked, lazy servant who hid his master’s talent away (Matthew 25:14-30). Our reward may not come any time soon, but surely we shall be rewarded when our Lord returns in glory. Let us not be hasty to respond to the calling, even when we are poor, the Lord who has called us will provide.