Phase 1: “The First Step”
I remember feeling burdened when I first learned about the project we had to do. The burden was not because of the work that it involved, but because of the many social issues we had that needed awareness. I had a hard time deciding what to do. I wanted to just extend my hand to everything and be involved in the movement for change. At first, I remember that I wanted to address the problematic increase of bullying at schools. I was heart-broken when I found out many students were committing suicide due to this problem. I was also aware that my younger brother was getting bullied at school and there was no one reaching out to help him. There were just too many problems. I felt lost.
That is when I realized that I could do something about Ebenezer Mission Church. This was a community centered on God and a community with hearts that reached out to the world. As a Christian, I found that Christianity offered more than just a purpose to life. That it reached into every aspect of my life and as it is written in Psalm 139: 1-4:
“O Lord, you have searched me/ and you know me./ You know when I sit and when I rise;/ you perceive my thoughts from afar./ You discern my going out and my lying/ down;/ you are familiar with all my ways./ Before a word is on my tongue/ you know it completely, O Lord.”
I have found that there is someone who knows me inside and out – someone who cares enough to understand who I am and someone who has compassion and sees the struggles in my life…and that someone was Jesus. So this was the first step to the beginning of my project; to break the boundaries and predisposed notion of who God is, of what Christianity is, and of whom we, as Christians are.
Phase 2: “Gathering Information”
“The word has soul as well as body…it is a living thing of blood and fire, capable of infinite beauty and power…the most potent instrument known to man.”
–Salvador P. Lopez, “Literature and Society”
As I embarked on this journey with eagerness and determination, there were many concerns that tumbled around in my mind. Would I be able to portray God or Christianity rightfully? Would I be able to capture the essence of Ebenezer Mission Church, of the community? So I prayed and I have found the way to approach the project. (Yep! It was that simple.)
Pastor Jae stated:
“The whole purpose of church, the way Jesus first instructed his disciples, was to go into the world and be the salt and light. That means we’re called to go into the community and make a difference and help people in the community. We as a church want to reach out to the people in the community who are suffering.”
So I have found that this was what I was looking for and that EMC as a community was the central part of my project. I will document Ebenezer Mission Church as a community (for some reason, I haven’t viewed churches as a community until now). I will document and redefine and discover the truth behind the words “Christians,” “church,” and “Jesus Christ.” I will also show the community from an angle not often seen, such as people who may be your neighbor, a classmate, a friend, or the person sitting next to you, like you or me, but with a purpose in a community called church, as Christians.
During my process of documenting EMC, I have learned and rediscovered that literature is truly powerful. And as Lopez stated, it is “the most potent instrument known to man.” I have seen how much it has affected us, and how much it has taken root in us. For Christianity, we have the Bible, which speaks truth and reveals to us more of whom God is. And through the Bible, through the Word, people are moved and changed. Bible Study teacher, JP declares:
“I find a lot of purpose and meaning not only for my life but I see it and I try and communicate it to the youth here because a lot of them are very misguided and live life on their own not knowing where or who to turn to and here, we’re like mentors, brothers, sisters, and family and we’re friends…”
In the process of documenting my fellow friends and colleagues, I have learned the impact of words and of the steps it takes for social change. I was able to see that though there are many issues, that with patience and with hearts for others, we are slowly making a change and a movement.
Phase 3: “Reflection and Conclusion”
When I looked back at how I worked on the project, I felt I have gone through a journey. Some obstacles I faced involved rightfully portraying the community and also, the method to which I go about doing this. And a strategy I developed was to document the community as they were. So in my head, I had a fancy studio camera with the wheels that I could use to record smoothly when I moved around, a cool newsboy hat, and a moustache with curled ends drawn on with a black marker to emphasize my director-ness, while in reality, I ran around with a small pink digital camera. 😀
After creating my documentary, I realized a flaw in it. While I proclaimed it was a multi-ethnic community, I have failed to interview different ethnicities. I realized that the interviewees were all Asian (but not of the same ethnicity. They were Taiwanese, Korean, and Chinese, though I doubt it would have been noticeable). And I also regretted that I was not able to record the Spanish Congregation or interview them. What I would do differently is interview more people from different ethnic backgrounds, and include them all speaking in the clip.
Another thing I wish I could have done was to put in more pictures and videos of events and fundraisers we did for our missions and our causes. There was so much we did, but for some reason, I was not able to find them. I think it would have shown and better clarified what the interviewees were speaking about.
Often times, I feel that people view Christians as hypocrites, liars, unintelligible people, and those who are weak (I also speak from personal experience as I was verbally attacked by a classmate who claimed that there is no God and rudely declared that I didn’t know what I was talking about). And it frustrates me to have to encounter this sometimes when I bring up that I am Christian to people. There is also that predisposed notion of who Christians are and should be and I found it unfair. So I guess another thing I wanted to do for the project was to show that we are also human and have flaws and make mistakes, but we are not unintelligible people who follow things blindly. There are so many layers for this aspect though, and I guess this was another obstacle to which I found no solution.
However, I would say I am proud of taking a step to show who we, as Christians, are. I was happy I could show that we are a community that cares for each other, whether they were a part or outside of the community. I was also happy that I could share a wonderful part of my life that made such a huge difference.
If there were others who were interested in my area of experience and expertise, I would invite them to experience the community itself as to telling them what it’s about and how to go about understanding it. I would invite them to become a part of the family. And with departing words, I leave you with these messages:
“We are very mission driven, which means that we go out there to share the love of God and to impact people and make a difference in people’s lives” – Joan H.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men.”
H., Joan. “Ebenezer Mission Church Documentary.” Ebenezer Mission Church. Oakland Gardens, NY. 6 December 2010.
L., Pastor Jae. “Ebenezer Mission Church Documentary.” Ebenezer Mission Church. Oakland Gardens, NY. 6 December 2010.
Lopez, Salvador Ponce. “Literature and Society.” Manila, Philippines: University Publishing Co., Inc., 1941. Print.
New International Version Bible. Seoul: Word of Life Press, 2004.
Y., JP. “Ebenezer Mission Church Documentary.” Ebenezer Mission Church. Oakland Gardens, NY. 6 December 2010.