USA : YAKIMA, Washington photographers use skills to help Zambian church

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Tavis, left, and Amy Guild pose for a portrait in front of a photo of they took with members of a church in Zambia at their home in Yakima, Wash. on April 17, 2014. (KAITLYN BERNAUER / Yakima Herald-Republic)
Tavis, left, and Amy Guild pose for a portrait in front of a photo of they took with members of a church in Zambia at their home in Yakima, Wash. on April 17, 2014. (KAITLYN BERNAUER / Yakima Herald-Republic)

YAKIMA, Wash. — Just back from a mission trip to Zambia, Africa, Tavis and Amy Guild have a message to pass on: Share your skills.

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They believe there’s plenty of opportunity for Americans to teach what they know to people around the world who are eager to learn.

That’s what they did when they visited the southeastern African country for three weeks in March.

The Yakima couple traveled to Lusaka, the capital, to help Capital Christian Ministries, a Pentecostal/charismatic church that hopes to expand to all the capital cities of Africa.

The Guilds — he’s 28, she’s 27 — decided their biggest contribution would be sharing their talents as professional photographers.

“As wedding photographers, we have a knack for telling a story,” Tavis Guild said. “We latched onto that.”

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The idea of using those skills to help a church overseas came during a photography conference they attended in Las Vegas last year. A couple speaking there described using photography as a platform to raise awareness about conditions in a village in Cambodia.

“We were inspired by that,” Tavis Guild said.

Not long after, a business colleague who is married to a man from Zambia mentioned that two pastors who head a ministry in Zambia would be visiting Yakima.

 

The couple turned out to be Bishop George Mbulo and his wife, the Rev. Beatrice Mbulo, founders of Capital Christian Ministries. The Guilds met them for coffee, and before long plans were sketched for a mission trip.

Harvest Community Church in Selah, which the Guilds attend, agreed to sponsor the trip, as did several individual partners.

“The thing that excites me is they have great skills and abilities and have chosen to use them not just to build their business but to look at how they can use them to bless and build people through God,” said the Rev. Jason Williams of Harvest. “That’s wonderful.”

So, last month, the Guilds packed up their cameras and lenses and embarked on a nearly 10,000-mile journey to capture, in images, the work the African ministry does.

“My hope was that we can raise awareness of what the ministry does,” Tavis Guild said.

They set, and met, five objectives: help the church disseminate its message, teach photography skills, take portraits of families, help at an orphanage, and lead a worship service.

 

Because the church seeks to impact all the African continent, the Guilds took multiple pictures of church services and activities, with the goal of updating the church website and supplying photos that could be sent out in mailers.

They also taught a photography class to church members and gave the church a digital camera. They gave lessons on using multi-media equipment: how to employ it during church services, set up lighting and edit video. “They were so open to learning new things,” Amy Guild said.

The Guilds took portraits of church members after services one Sunday, capturing images of 50 different families in one afternoon.

They enjoyed working with an orphanage, LifeNet Children’s Rescue Mission, run by the ministry. About 18 boys, ages 8 to teens, live in the mission, where they receive schooling and leadership and job training. They chronicled happenings at the orphanage with their cameras, which will be used to promote what Capital Christian Ministries is hoping to accomplish with the youngsters. And, after watching the boys play soccer with a basketball, the Guilds went out and bought them a soccer ball and pump.

Leading a worship service was exhilarating, said Amy. “It was very moving to see the excitement in the church and know … the God in Yakima is the same God alive in Zambia,” Amy noted in a description she wrote of the trip.

The couple said anyone could do what they did: simply sharing what they know. What the people of Zambia crave is training, said Tavis Guild.

“Even if people think their skills aren’t the most advanced, people in Zambia could learn from them,” he said. “There is so much opportunity there. Everyone is very entrepreneurial and trying to move forward.”

Amy Guild agreed: “They really appreciated the teaching we did. Really, people could help anywhere.”

The Guilds’ photographic skills are mainly self-taught. Graduates of West Valley High School, Yakima Valley Community College and Central Washington University, they majored in business and technology courses, taking photographs on the side. They also attended photography workshops to hone their skills. They own their own business, Memory Montage Photography, where they both work full time.

 

They’re preparing a pictorial presentation of their Zambian trip, which they’ll present at any interested church as well as their own. They aren’t soliciting money for the Capital Christian Ministries but perhaps will sometime help them mount a campaign for a permanent church home so they don’t have to meet in various halls.

“Tavis and Amy did a beautiful job,” Williams said. “It’s fantastic that they got great photographs, and it’s fantastic for what they did for that ministry.”

The Guilds’ experience in the country was uniformly good. “It was very safe,” Amy Guild noted. “We felt instantly comfortable there.” Zambians were friendly, and church members treated them warmly.

“We feel very connected to that church,” Amy Guild said.

 

• Jane Gargas can be reached at 509-577-7690 or [email protected]

 

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