Jayson’s New Job

jayson —  December 18, 2014  Leave a comment

A quick update on what I’m doing these days since I’ve gotten back to the Jesus Film Media office.

Many of you with whom I met over the past year heard about my work with our 3rd Party Partnerships. Helping other ministries and organizations connect with our data is a vitally important role in a team like mine, but – honestly – it was pretty far outside of my strengths. Last week I handed that role over to a guy named Joshua who joined our team about a year ago. He’ll definitely be more “on it” than I was, I’m excited to see what will come of it.

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That same day I picked up a new role as JesusFilmMedia.org‘s Product Manager. My job boils down to plotting and planning the future upgrades, bug-fixes, and new features of our web-based tool for delivering the Gospel to people. Someone else does this job for our mobile app, someone else does it for our database of films and languages. This is how my boss, Gabe, explained my roll to our team:

He will be reviewing site analytics, user feedback, organizational goals and providing a roadmap and product vision for the site. He also has a background with web development and design which will serve him well.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about it – two books, an online class, 3-4 blogs that I’m reading every few days. It’s a pretty big learning curve for me, but I think Gabe is right that I have some background that will serve the team well! I’m excited to see where we can take this.

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Missio-Nexus Award

Missio-Nexus is missions network representing an absolutely enormous number of missions organizations (200) and missionaries (35,000!) around the world. It helps to coordinate efforts and resources. This year the Jesus Film Project received a significant award for the work that my team has been doing! The eXcelerate Award’s inscription reads:

For strategic innovation in ministry by modeling continuous improvement that leverages digital platforms to share the gospel. In presenting this award we affirm and celebrate initiatives that accelerate the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

I am so proud and humbled (I feel both, really, is that even possible?) to be part of a project that is having such a large impact for the Gospel. Thank you for being a part of it, too!

We’ve Hit Our Goal!

Over the past 9 months we have been working on finding partners to contribute $2100 of new monthly support. I’m excited to say: WE HIT THAT GOAL! The goal really is a minimum goal, but it means that I’ll be headed back to my desk and helping improve JFM’s products full time this month, and Carrie will be helping to plan the spring semester at UCF – just as soon as we clear everything with our support coach.

So many people have started partnering with us, and so many of have increased their financial giving to make this possible! Thank you for being part of it, too!

Pressing Forward

While we’ve been working on our funding it has seemed that the Lord has been putting ideas in my (Jayson’s) head. I’ve realized some gifts that I have which need to be developed, ones that tie specifically to my current role.

This week I put in my application to a local college to pursue an associates degree in Graphic and Interactive Design. I’m excited to be pursuing something that I’ve grown passionate about – and something that will help the Jesus Film Media platform deliver the Gospel into more hands. When I told my boss that I was going to do this in my free time, he suggested that there would be a possibility of my team picking up part of the tab! Nothing is even close to sure yet – please pray that the next steps would be clear.

Pray For:

  • The application process and the finances as I pursue this new education endeavor.
  • Gospel opportunities with my fellow students.
  • Carrie’s re-entry into the UCF team as the semester ends and they begin planning for the Spring semester.
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The vigil for Steven Sotloff at UCF this past month.

Steven Sotloff

The house was still mostly quiet three weeks ago Wednesday morning at 6 am when my phone alerted me of a text message from News 13. In the wake of a national disaster, I (Carrie) had signed up for this service, and in hindsight, most of the texts are useless traffic reports. I keep it around, though, just in case of apocalyptic weather, zombie outbreak or alien invasion. This particular morning, the message hit with a thud:

“U.S. confirms video of former UCF student Steven Sotloff’s beheading by ISIL militants is authentic.”

Now, I did not know Steven personally or have any mutual friends at UCF, nor have I been a particularly close follower of the recent Middle Eastern happenings. And yet, I find myself affected by the death of a stranger across the world.

Technology’s Moral Value

Weeks later, I’m still struck by a number of things: mostly, the accelerated speed at which information reaches me, and the heightened emotional impact of a story accompanied by a visual. After all, the execution of American journalists by extremists in the Middle East is not a brand new thing. But technology connects us all, and video is a powerful medium.

Of course, debating the moral value of the technology itself would be about as fruitful as deciding whether dynamite is good or bad. For every example of evil going viral, you could find a positive counterpart. Consider the role of video and social media in the infamous Ice Bucket Challenge of Summer 2014. With a simple internet video campaign and some creativity, the ALS Association quadrupled donations to research a devastating disease.

Terrified Exhilaration

Thinking about the speed at which the world is changing, I am any given mix of terrified and exhilarated, depending on the moment. But viewing current realities in light of the commands and promises of Jesus, I am energized:

“All authority has been given to me…”

“Go and make disciples of all nations…”

“I am with you always…”

One source estimates over 10 billion mobile connected devices by 2017. What possibilities are within reach with the Holy Spirit in the mix? God saw fit to launch his Great Commission into the unique era of the Roman Empire with it’s new highway systems to aid the first missionaries. Might He use the technological wonders of our day to bring it to completion? Only He knows. Pray with us that it might be so!

Pray For:

  • Creative applications of Jesus Film content by our partner organizations and individuals who use the app.
  • The UCF students, that they wold turn to the Lord with any anxiety or grief related to the ISIL events.
  • We’re getting close on our financial partnership “project.” Pray that Jayson would be able to return to his team’s work very, very soon.
photo by Tex Wilcox

photo by Tex Wilcox

7 Days, 9 Flights, 3 Languages, 60 Trained.

In May, we asked prayer as Jayson’s teammates flew to Brazil to train nationals from 6 World Cup host cities to use the Jesus Film Media app for outreach during the games. Below is an update from teammate Hannah:

People came from all over – one guy took a 14-hour bus ride to attend this training! This guy, Roberto, lost 3 days of work just so he could come and be equipped to share Jesus with his community in Natal, Brazil!

We taught them in how to use the equipment, the Jesus Film app and how together, they can be used in ministry… We specifically highlighted the films that have been added for the Brazil 2014 World Cup.

Another encouraging thing for me was Hugo, a guy we partnered with, using the app as we traveled. On one of our taxi rides, he shared a film in Portuguese with the tour guide. It was so natural and easy!

Our final training took place in a favela (a local slum) in Rio de Janeiro. Though they are still fairly poor, I was surprised at how many of the attendees had smart phones. They commented on the fact that it was a common thing in their community… with the World Cup around the corner, they could now share soccer athletes’ testimonies with their friends.

Events & Ever-Afters

By now, all things World Cup are two weeks gone and Brazil has left the limelight. Hannah is home in Orlando, Roberto and Hugo are back to normal routines and the streets will likely see slightly less green and yellow. The much-anticipated event is over.

But as Jesus himself knew, the impact of the big event only goes so far, no matter how many loaves and fishes appear. The lion’s share of life-change happens as normal people bump shoulders with other “non-professional” believers, wrestling through the pits of life and the claims of Christ together.

For us this summer, the highlights have included good conversations about the gospel in light of cults, church, childbirth, marriage, miracles, death, and skepticism with at least three spiritually curious Orlando friends and some family back home.

As for Brazil and its recent trainees, they will likely be faced with a full two years of normal before their next big event on the world stage, the 2016 Summer Olympics. Pray that the unique opportunities leveraged by the World Cup will launch countless everyday folks to see their friends and communities changed by Jesus, with or without a big event.

Pray For:

  • The followup and results from the weeks of outreach around Brazil.
  • Jayson’s family. His grandfather passed away last week, there were some opportunities for the Gospel to go out. Read more about it in the post I wrote yesterday.
  • We still have a lot of traveling happening for work on our financial support. Pray for safe travel. Also pray for the health of our family and our car.
  • Our friend Bobby finally has his driver’s license! Pray for opportunities as he continues to get his feed underneath him!
  • Fall campus schedule kicks off mid-August. Pray for a strong start for Carrie’s team at UCF.

Summer travel photos!