From the Field

2019 life frames: Storytelling from World Vision photographers

A worship service in Mali.

World Vision’s award-winning photographers travel around the world every year, capturing moments of God’s grace and faithfulness as we follow Jesus’ example to show unconditional love to the poor and oppressed. They bring back stories that inspire us to action and compassion.

Discover what’s it like behind the scenes during some of these moments, published quarterly in this year’s issues of World Vision magazine.

In Zambia, seventeen-month-old Beauty's joy is infectious, her face beaming with wonder.
Seventeen-month-old Beauty looks toward the light, her face glowing with joy. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

Wonder of childhood

Written and photographed by World Vision photographer Jon Warren 

Nikon D810 camera

70-200mm lens at 155mm, 1/400th at f/2.8, ISO 400

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Seventeen-month-old Beauty tottered toward the light, her face beaming with wonder and awe. In the background, the setting sun rimmed the trees with gold. My heart was full, so I did what every photographer would do — raised my camera and savored the moment.

Beauty’s joy was infectious, her pleasure unbound. I crave her sense of marvel and her ability to see without blinders or judgment. The future is bright for her family in southern Zambia, recipients of animals through the World Vision Gift Catalog and because of child sponsorship.

This Christmas, when we turn on the colorful tree lights at our home, I know I’ll see the same look on my grandkids’ faces. And I’ll have the same response — looking through my camera and clicking the shutter, my heart exploding with love.

In rural West Virginia, Lucy Kirby provides essential care and nurture to eight children in need. Her's is a beautiful story of adoption in West Virginia.
Lucy Kirby, 58, helps her son, Dakota, 9, with homework and reading in their living room after school in the Weaver community of Junior, West Virginia. (©2019 World Vision/photo by Chris Huber)

Adoption

Written and photographed by World Vision photographer Chris Huber

Canon EOS 6D Mark II

24-70mm lens, 1/100th at f/2.8, ISO 1250

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Lucy sits next to 9-year-old Dakota at their home in West Virginia; he needs help with his homework. The adoptive mother of eight has had a long day but finds the strength to patiently shepherd him. Lucy adopted Dakota and his two younger sisters in 2016. Lucy’s brother and the children’s mother surrendered custody. Drug addiction had taken over their lives. The local church and World Vision helped Lucy meet state guidelines to accommodate the children. Dakota and his sisters had returned from school, ahead of the rest. The house was still calm.

As the late-day sun shone through the kitchen window onto the dining table, I crouched near the TV to get a good angle. Lucy exudes patience, intelligence, and humility. As a father of two, I was taken by her gentleness and care for her children. That’s what I needed to capture. The girls took turns reading or doing their activities on either side of  Lucy. Then it was Dakota’s turn. This is the intimate moment I had been waiting for — the son, relaxed, focused, looking to his mother for help. This moment embodies the power of adoption to bring new life. Human adoption is a symbol of what God did for all people through Jesus Christ (Galatians 4:4-5). Dakota didn’t used to get this kind of caring attention. But he needed it. And now his life is getting so much better.

Here's a moment of water and love in Bangladesh that is so unexpected for a story about the impact of USAID-funded World Vision programs.
Bikash, 29, tenderly places a marigold in the hair of his beautiful wife, Tumpa. (©2019 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

Water and love in Bangladesh

Written and photographed by World Vision photographer Jon Warren

Nikon Z6

24-70mm lens, 1/320th at f/5, ISO 280

*     *     *

Bikash, 29, tenderly places a marigold in the hair of his beautiful wife, Tumpa.

I raise my camera to record the loving moment that is so unexpected for a story about the impact of USAID-funded World Vision programs in Bangladesh. I knew I’d see improved health and water systems, economic and agricultural improvement, disaster preparedness and better governance — but a couple’s restored relationship? What a delight!

“We are not like we were before,” Tumpa says. Life changed after they enrolled in World Vision classes, including one for strengthening families.

Now, both serve on the water management committee, making sure their sand filter produces clean water for their community. Because of high levels of arsenic in the groundwater and salinity from encroaching seawater, filtration is their best drinking water solution. They’re determined to carry on the learnings to their 2-year-old son, Arko.

Many Bangladeshi women often trek four times daily to gather water, each trip taking up to an hour. Not Tumpa. Bikash zooms by, his bicycle loaded with water containers, so she doesn’t have to carry the burden.

Christians worshipping God at a church in Mali.
Christian’s participate in a Sunday worship and baptism gathering at Bacodjicroni Assembly of God Church in Bamako, Mali. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Chris Huber)

Worshipping God among the nations

Written and photographed by World Vision photographer Chris Huber

Canon EOS 6D

16mm lens, 1/250th at f/2.8, 2500 ISO

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I cherish every opportunity to worship Jesus with fellow believers in other parts of the world. Since my late 20s, God has been revealing his heart for the nations to me through brothers and sisters from many tribes and tongues — from China to Lebanon; Alaska to Zambia.

That’s why this photo from a church in Bamako, Mali, is so special.

King David says it well in Psalm 67:4: “May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples with equity and guide the nations of the earth.”

Mali, a country of roughly 18 million people, is predominantly Muslim. About 2.4 percent profess Christianity. So when I got the chance to attend a church service in the capital city with a local World Vision coworker, I got excited.

And, of course, I brought my camera.

Worship and preaching at Bacodjicroni Assemblies of God Church are in French, so specifics of the songs and sermon were lost on me during the nearly three-hour service. Knowing Spanish helped me deal with some nuances on this hot and humid June morning.

I wanted to capture the essence of this church family’s life together: earnest Bible study before service; jubilant and expressive musical worship; a dynamic and convicting sermon; powerful and declarative prayer; joyful interactions among brothers and sisters in the in-between moments; and celebratory baptisms to encourage the growing family as they head back into the world at lunchtime.

As the worship band led in with another upbeat song halfway through the service, people organically started leaving their seats and dancing and singing toward the front of the room near the stage. Many of the children even were allowed to come down from the balcony to dance and sing with the adults. What I love about this moment is the abandon with which many people in this frame worship. Regardless of how their week went, their raised hands and dancing feet proclaim: God is always good and worthy of praise.

I revel at this moment. I might be moving through the crowd with a camera to my face. And I might not understand all the words of the song. But I’m smiling. I’m singing. I’m worshipping, too. This moment reminds me of what the Apostle Paul says in Ephesians 1:5, “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ.”

This means that we can worship Jesus even when we can’t understand the lyrics.


Read more testimonies from World Vision photographers in our Life Frames series.

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