Fourteen years ago I pulled away from our church parking lot following a van full of zealous Christians. Our mission was to save the lost and feed the hungry. We met with a team to set out on the streets of San Francisco. When we arrived I was as excited and eager as was the rest of the crew. They separated us into little groups, armed us with socks, sandwiches and a few guidelines to follow, and sent us out to change the world.
It all sounded so epic. I sincerely thought I was going to be someone’s light in a dark place. I felt I carried significance, purpose, and vision to the “blind”. We walked the streets of Height and Ashbury. We painted a mural in a crisis pregnancy center. We ministered in the park. We worshiped in the city square. It was a rush to experience the heart of God for a city. I wasn’t even put off by the homeless lady taking a pee in the street as we shared the love of Christ with her boyfriend.
However, something caught my attention after a long night of providing essential items to those in need: I found most of them believed in Jesus. They were open to prayer. They quickly took our socks and snacks. They would say “Amen” and “God bless you”. Suddenly there were moments I felt like I was being manipulative. I was offering them something they needed (food and clothing). In a sense, they felt obligated to listen to my shpeal. I searched my heart, asking the Lord for clarification. Many of those to whom I was ministering sincerely believed in Christ. They were simply trapped in addiction, self destructive behavior, and brokeness. They didn’t need to say the sinner’s prayer again. While these thoughts were rolling around in my mind, I looked across the street where I saw the polar opposite of social status.
Beautiful women in long flowing gowns were getting out of limousines draped on the arm of good looking men in Armani suites. They were walking into fancy clubs, paying cover charges that would make my overpriced coffee blush. While they caught the attention of everyone around them, I found myself staring at them for longer and longer periods of time. My heart grieved. Who had their sandwich? Who could offer them a relationship and an experience with a loving God who cared for them? Who’s mission field were they? I broke inside. Money they had. Food was not an issue. Socks may as well have been disposable as far as they were concerned.
Yet like everyone else they hungered for something more. They were successful in every sense of the word. They had it made in the eyes of a material world. Yet, they were the poor in spirit. They could eat all day long and never be satisfied. They to are sad, depressed, and alone. They also battle addictions, self destructive behavior and brokenness. They too long for a love they haven’t known, a feeling of belonging, and a genuine acceptance beyond performance.
I went back to the hostile that night and balled my eyes out, “Lord, I have no sandwich for them.” I have nothing to offer them. Why would they listen to me? What do I have that they do not? They pity me, as if I am the one in want and need. I don’t remember sleeping that evening. I spent the whole night crying out to God.
His response to me was simple… I was their sandwich. He told me to be myself, do what I love, and work hard at developing my craft. He reminded me of the words spoken over me my entire life, beginning when my mother was pregnant with me. She saw my name up in neon lights like a Hollywood sign. God told her I was going to be a girl and to name me Joy and that I would bring great JOY to this world. He reminded me of when I was an infant and the prophetic words my parents received about me saying, “Open your mouth and I will fill it.”
God then took me back to my childhood where my parents were on staff at the YWAM base in Maui. It was the performing arts base. Christians from around the world gathered there to collaborate on projects that would impact the world. I remember learning to sing, dance, perform on stage, and entertain a crowd. It was at that place that I learned to talk to God. At a young age He became my best friend.
As I grew up in the church many shunned my dreams, claiming my head was in the clouds. As both a child and a female I was taught to be seen and not heard. I suppressed my voice and my calling. I tried being a good Christian evangelist. I told everyone I could about the love of Jesus. I became a youth pastor and served as a small group leader. I put my heart into everything I did, yet God kept reminding me, I wasn’t fully alive unless I was being 100% who He created me to be.
After my experience in San Francisco I went back to school and got my degree in media communications. I began to take acting classes. I got an agent and I tried out for Esther in “One Night With The King.” I cultivated relationships in the L.A./Pasadena area and I have been a faithful tortoise ever since, persevering in the belief God intends on using me to be a sandwich to those in the entertainment industry.
After my husband Matt went to ministry school, he and I have now served as volunteers for five years in the church teaching an overview course in film along with a good friend of ours. We have produced over two dozen short films and have held three film festivals highlighting the students work. My husband Matt has also illustrated 3 of Danny and Sheri Silk’s children’s books and Kris Valloton’s latest children’s book “The Ways of Royalty.” He also works at Bethel Media as our main source of income.
All the while we pastor about 75 people in the growing film community in Redding out of our house. We have continued to build relationships in L.A. and be actively involved in our children’s lives. Our personal short films have won multiple awards nation wide, and now we find ourselves at precipice. We are gearing up for the new rung of students and plan on taking their craft to a new level. We intentional teach them to be Daniel’s and Joseph’s called to serve those in Hollywood by making them look like geniuses. We teach them to not promote propaganda, but to become good at being visual storytellers.
Our goal is to make feature length films in the Northern California area. We intend on providing sustainable jobs and resources to those in our community. Though we do not feel called to faith based films, we do feel called to partner with the church to bring entertaining and meaningful stories to life. We focus on co-creating with the Holy Spirit, operating from an identity in Christ, and living as examples. Our company is called speropictures. The word spero comes from the latin term which means “hope.” Our brand is the tree of life. Our desire is to plant seeds of hope that reproduce wholeness.
We have made connections with our county’s development department, our local Film Commissioner, a performing arts studios, and several others who are partnering with us in this journey. We have also been building relationships with professionals in their field from sound, music, color grading, editing, acting and much more who feel the call of God to be doing their craft from Redding.
What we attempting do at the moment is seek investors, donations, sponsors, and other financing options so we do not have to be over extended by volunteering, working, doing family and making a films. Plus, some of what will be funded is equipment that our students would then have access to, thereby taking their projects up a notch as well.