Last weekend I was invited to be apart of a ministry trip to San Francisco working as a photo journalist, documenting the work of the team. I have been apart of a photo journalism class at my school for the past 6 weeks and this was an opportunity to put our new skills to work and get a feel for the field. I was super excited!
The team is a group of several students from my school that travel to San Fran on a monthly basis to be apart of the city and partner with what God is doing. There was quite a bit more people involved on this particular trip for various reasons, but one being my photography team was apart of this months trip. But all in all there were over 70 people involved in this trip! And can I just say that I was so impressed with the people i worked with on this trip! They were so effective and they loved and served so well. I was inspired and moved in so many ways.
We all left Redding at 8:00 am and headed to San Francisco driving two busses, a van, and several smaller vehicles. I rode with the teacher of my class and the women who invited me on the trip, Julie Peters. She’s an absolutely amazing women and has taught me so much. We had great conversation the whole way down and she is now a fan of The 1975. So i’d say the car ride was an absolute success.
I made friends with one of the groups once arriving to the city, and after a quick cup of coffee, we were off!
(Photo of Felicia Harney on a Canon 60D using a 50mm fixed lens)
So, the whole walking, talking, taking pictures things proved to be slightly more difficult than i thought because after about 10 minutes i seemed to have lost my group…But thats okay! I was there to learn and grown. And i learned.
So I decided to work alone for a little while until I could connect with the group. I was feeling somewhat awkward walking around with a camera with the intent of ministering to strangers on the street. But something that my dad taught me was that whenever he feels that way he prays and asked God to send someone his way to minister to. So, i prayed just that! A little passive, I know. But sure enough, as I was walking past a city bench there was an old couple sitting on a park bench who appeared to live there shouted at me in a very sassy tone “Hey, you better not be taking our pictures with out permission!”. To which I relied “Okay! May I please take your picture?”. To which I received a very friendly “Yes”.
This is Honey. She is an absolutely delightful women! I got one shot of her before she returned to her ultimate sass mode.
She absolutely loved getting see her pictures! I feel its been a whole since she has seen one.
The man with her was named Forest and he is a total goofball. He kept singing a song the whole time I was taking his picture so all of he shots turned out in absolute perfection.
and to finish strong…
Way to go, Forest. Its always best to leave them wanting more.
They were wonderful! We talked about almost everything under the sun. They are both from Oakland, prefer Newport Menthols and are huge fans of Prince.
I spent about 30 minutes with the both of them. Honey really appreciated our time together, but there seemed like she was hiding something serious from me. Forest would begin to speak about something specific and she kept shutting him up. At one point they brought of their horoscope and asked me my birthday so they could tell me mine and I let them know I don’t believe in that. Forest was shocked and asked “Didn’t I want to know my prophesy?” and I let him know I already know how to do that. He then got up to go have a cigarette, but Honey was very intrigued. As soon as he left she came close and asked me to give her a prophesy! I told that I can hear from spirits like a horoscope, but that I hear from The Holy spirit and I asked if that was okay, and she said yes.
So i began to pray for her and told her that I saw a picture of a giant heart. But that this heart had staples from where people had previously stapled fliers on her heart, using her precious heart for their own gain and then tore them down. And then I saw God coming and removing the staples and healing her heart.
By the time I looked up at her she had tears in her eyes. She then began to cry so hard to could speak clear. I felt The Lord gave a word of knowledge for her head. So I asked if she had a head ache. She then looked up at me and said that she didn’t want to tell me this but now she was going to.
She pulled off the wig she was wearing and showed me the top of her head where she had a long cut with 8 staples holding the wound together that the doctor had put in a few days prior. She then told me what she had been trying to hide. She told me that a few days ago, three men attacked her in the night, beat her over the head and raped her.
She kept crying as I continued to comfort her and pray for healing and restoration over her. She looked up at me and asked me take her photo so she could she what she looked like right now. This is the image I captured.
I told her she still looked beautiful. It broke my heart to hear her story and was so glad The Lord put her in my path to love and comfort. We talked, laughed and joked around for a few moment longer and then Forest returned and they needed to leave to head to the mission to make it in time for dinner. So we said goodbye, and I prayed and blessed both of them and told them I hope I get to see them soon.
I finally met with my group a few minutes later and we went to get some dinner together and shared what we experienced and then meet back in our large group. From there I departed with about 35 other people to go to street ministry on Castro street, which is famous for its gay community. Which for some reason me and my friend Cesar were very welcomed…
Anyways, after getting off the bus the team all gathered and started a “Joy Tunnel”.
It was so fun! They posted up on a busy street and they laughed and shouted and invited everyone who passed by to join in on the happiness.
After a few minutes of of the Joy Tunnel we split into groups of 5 and went off! And once again, I was extremely impressed with everyone and especially my group i ventured off with. Highly effective and they loved so well.
My team found our selves right in the heart of the bars and clubs. We walked in to a few, but unfortunately, there is only one way to listen to Dark Horse by Katy Perry. And that is balls to the wall loud. I get it, they were tyrna get down, who am I to stop them? But this did how ever make having a conversation quite difficult. So a few of the people on the trip made some “Free Hug” signs and they decided to stand on a popular street corner in the poring rian and hold them high.
(Photo of Noemie Guillemot)
I had seen this done before, but never this effectively.
(Photo of Cesar Wilches)
This lasted for about an hour! It was so incredibly fun!
We letting our presence be know. There were probably over 100 hugs shared on our corner this evening. Many simply smiled and continued there evening. But, others stayed. They stood in wonder and confusion from what was happening in front of their faces. They would ask why we are doing what we are doing. And what what would we say?
We would say “We are here to simply demonstrate love, with no strings attached what so ever. To let you know that you are worth love. That you, and who you are right now is amazing. That there is a God that loves us all so much, that we can’t even help but show it to you right now”.
Very few statements followed after we shared our hearts. Many tears, many silent stares, a few questions. but mostly we watched men receive authentic love. Men who have been hurt by people like us, people from the church in past. But we got to be there in the place of that hurt and let them know that Jesus loves them no matter where they are at.
(Photo of Annie Kingdon)
(Photo of Katie Knoepker)
In the midst of all the fun Cesar saw a man behind us leaning up against the wall with a hurt and bandaged leg. He went up to him and started talking and asked if he could pray for his leg to be healed. After Cesar finished praying all the pain in the mans leg completely disappeared!
Praise The Lord!
It soon become time to return back to the church we were staying at and call it a night.
We woke up the next morning and began the day with some breakfast, worship and debrief. My photography team was only planning on staying a half day today so we set off!
I joined up with a different group as we enjoyed the farmers marked near the pier! there was a lady named Sheila working at her photography vendor table that we went up to and began a conversation. As we did, one of the guys in the group, Zach Smeltzer got a work of knowledge about pain in her ankle. She said she had no pain there, but here wrist had been i pain for several years and she takes medication frequently. We felt The Lord was still able to heal that just as easy. So Zach began to pray.
After a very simple prayer, asking for Jesus to show up with His love and power we asked her how she was feeling, and she said she began to feel tingling in here wrist and that the pain had left! She was so thrilled! She said she had been going to doctors for years about the pain and was so happy it was gone. She also said “Thank you for reminding me to pray”.
She was so excited about what had just happened that she gave each of us a photograph that she personally captured and printed for free as a gift!
(Photo of Sheila hold the photograph she gave to me as a gift)
Right after that we went to a Star Bucks on the pier to share with each other about our time thus far.
Photo of Felicia Harney. Clearly very excited about what God is doing.
(Photo of Eli Monroe)
(Photo of Noemie Guillemot)
Shortly after it was time for me and few other photographers to head home! Such a great week end.
I know i said it several times in this post, but I was so impressed with this team and I was so moved by what God was doing through this team in this city.
Revelation 19:10 says that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophesy. So, This is why i do what i do. I want to be able to capture what is happing here with my school and be able to share in the unique and creative ways that God is moving. Because when you hear, see, read the testimonies of Jesus, it is prophesying into your life that you can do the same.
I am so thankful I got to be apart of this trip and that it went so well. This camera was given to me a few weeks ago by my younger sister, Audra. And right away i was accepted into the photo class as well as the film class in a addition to my normal school schedule and extra commitments. So i was so bless to see the photos turn out so well and that I was effectively able to use so well what God had given me and to be activated in the news skills that have been taught to me!
Special Thanks to:
Until next time