In this face, you will see the face of God.
This March I received the gift that keeps on giving. I joined the International Affairs Seminar (IAS) for the Christian Church in Oklahoma (Disciples of Christ).
With 24 high schoolers and 5 other adults, we went to Washington, D.C. and New York City to learn about the complex, multi-faceted evil of human trafficking, as well as steps churches + non-profits + governments are taking to fight it.
In the 10-day journey, I helped document what it takes to make an IAS trip happen.
I also took over 10000 pictures -- 3000 of which are decent enough I didn't delete on-the-spot. (Yeah, kind of glad I'm out of school and graded on my own curve).
As with most of my photography projects, the editing is the most arduous task. Capturing the moments = easy; selecting which are moments worth sharing for a specific purpose = challenging.
As I edited each photo, I stumbled into a ritual:
- Who am I looking at?
- What are their needs?
- Who is God making them into?
- What of their virtues do I need to ask God to help them with?
- May it be so.
It's not hard to look at these wonderful human beings in their late teenage years and imagine all that they have in store. They're priming and readying themselves for life. They're developing themselves, choosing to show who they are.
What was difficult, in the ritual of editing their photos, was to figure out what - of myself, that - I was projecting onto them. What did they really need me to pray for them for? (rather than what did I need to pray for myself for?)
I give you a glimpse - a gallery - of each of their faces. I'm not identifying them by name (modern search technologies offer too much danger with that). I'm not identifiying their locations or their churches. But I am giving thanks to God for their experiences and the small ways God forms them:
Ignatius of Loyola wrote as the preamble to his Spiritual Exercises:
Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul.
And the other things on the face of the earth are created for man and that they may help him in prosecuting the end for which he is created.
I'm grateful not only for what these youth experienced that week -- but I'm also grateful for how they helped me glorify, revere, and seek God more. Thanks y'all.