KNOXVILLE — Everyday missionaries work to bring the Kingdom of God into the darkest corners of the world. Many of these missionaries have amazing stories, but they do not have a good platform to share them.
Seeking to help solve this issue, a team from Johnson University is going to the International Conference on Missions to document the stories of missionaries.
These stories will be a part of The Hands Project, and organizers hope to make the stories available as a resource to future missionaries.
Dean of the School of Communications and Creative Arts at JU, Matthew Broaddus, is heading up the creation of The Hands Project.
“The purpose of The Hands Projects is to preserve the body of knowledge missionaries in the field have,” Broaddus said. “We asked ourselves the question ‘what can we do to preserve that knowledge for future missionaries?’ The Hands Project is what we came up with.”
The original concept for The Hands Project was to create a documentary from stories of missionaries, but Broaddus said the original vision has changed.
Instead of being a documentary, The Hands Project will be a video and audio database documenting the words, wisdom and miracles done in the lives of God’s workers.
“The Hands Project is an attempt to start creating a video archive, or an audio archive for those who are located in closed countries and do not wish to be seen,” Broaddus said. “This archive will serve as a resource where future missionaries can access the previous knowledge of missionaries, and seek answers.
“This will allow people who are interested in what previous missionaries have done to search by names, topics, or countries and find out more information about those specific things,” he said.
Through documenting the wisdom of current missionaries, Broaddus said he hopes to help future missionaries’ ministries and work go smoother while bringing light to the amazing things God has already done in the past.
“The idea of preserving knowledge is really important,” Broaddus said. “We have missionaries who are retiring, leaving the field, passing away — who have experiences that most of us don’t understand — and if we can pass that knowledge on to future missionaries, then that can make their ministries even richer.”
He said he hopes The Hands Project will grow into a valuable resource for missionaries.
The documentary crew traveling to ICOM will capture the first stories for the project. The team will begin The Hands Project by interviewing as many missionaries as they can at the upcoming ICOM in Peoria, Illinois.
“We will have a booth set up where they (missionaries) can come in and be interviewed by a documentary crew,” Broaddus said.
In addition to the interviews, Broaddus said the crew will be set up to collect any media missionaries might want to bring, such as pictures, video or other items.
“We are hoping that there will be missionaries that bring pictures and video that we could copy while we are there, and hand it back to them,” Broaddus said. “This would add some context, from their lives that we could include in the video excerpts.”
Broaddus said that if all goes well at ICOM the project will continue.
“We are hoping that this will be something that we can do again,” Broaddus said. “This is kind of our pilot shot at ICOM.”
Broaddus encouraged anyone connected with the university to tell missionaries they know about the project.
“We all have a sphere of influence, in the sense that we know people who are on the mission field or who are involved in missions, so tell people about the project,” Broaddus said. “Let them know we are doing this, and encourage them, especially if they are going to be at ICOM, to participate.
Broaddus said the documentary team can conceal identities to protect missionaries.
“If they are worried about the anonymity side of things or if they are in a closed country and they need their name protected, then we can do that,” Broaddus said. “We don’t want to expose anyone — to create a dangerous situation for anyone — but some of those stories are some of the ones we would want the most. The people who are in closed countries have done some amazing things for God, and we want to bring Him glory through sharing their stories.”
Broaddus said anyone interested in being part of The Hands Project can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.