Media and Mission in the Inland Empire

Historically Adventist Christians have correctly recognized film as a tool with the incredible power to influence the acceptance of ideas and shape thought and have opposed anything to do with the movie industry. However in a culture where the currency of conversation is often drawn from stories told on the big screen, and in a world where film is only the first of many stops in a distribution cycle that includes Internet, cell phones and personal media players, the times demand storytellers fluent in the language of modern media and committed to creating images which prompt an openness to God's Spirit.

Jason Satterlund—Christian Filmmaker

Enter Jason Satterlund: An award-winning filmmaker and committed Seventh-day Adventist Christian who, along with his wife Michaele, recently returned to his roots in the Northwest with his company, Big Puddle Films.

Jason recently reflected on a loving mother who prayerfully protected him from the potentially evil influence of movies in his youth, while nurturing the creative gifts given to him by God—gifts he now uses to tell stories every day. "Now my Mom is my biggest fan," Jason says with a sheepish grin.

Having worked and traveled extensively as a filmmaker in conjunction with the Josh McDowell ministry, the most recent film Jason wrote, produced and directed is entitled The Human Trace, which won the Cedar Rapids Film Festival. Although Big Puddle Films has produced Christian music videos and a media resource for worship services called Droplets (available through AdventSource), the audience this long-time youth Sabbath School teacher most frequently addresses is the general public.

"We are called to do more than preach to the choir," says Jason, "If we produce movies…well-crafted…as good or better than everything else that is out there…with Christian values, and place them in the public marketplace, then that's one less movie with terrible values that people will watch."

Jason, who has a gift for narrative and who is meticulous in his attention to detail, produces television commercials for Northwest companies that have the quality of national market commercials with much larger budgets. He believes movies for Christian audiences should be made with no less quality than for the general public.

"Satan has ruled the [movie] industry for a long time," says Jason. "Why aren't we ruling it? As believers, we should all be doing work that is better than anything the world is putting out in any industry."

When asked what kind of movies he thinks the Adventist Church should be making, he simply says, "We should be making movies that show just how good God really is."

Volodymyr Nesteruk—Reaching the World

While some may think it preposterous to imagine a small Slavic congregation in Spokane, Wash., as home to a groundbreaking international media ministry, closer examination shows it's true.

The messages of Volodymyr Nesteruk, pastor, can be seen and heard on a number of media outlets, making it possible for The Three Angels' Message to have an unprecedented reach into the homes of Russian- and Ukrainian-speaking viewers in various parts of the world.

Volody, as he is called, produces two TV ministries: Open Book Evangelism, a 60-minute Russian language series of 24 episodes; and Truth for Today, a half-hour series in Ukrainian with 30 episodes. He had already been seen on the Seventh-day Adventist-run Hope Channel–Europe, when he was contacted by management at CNL–TV, a non-denominational group that airs programming over four satellites covering Europe, North America and Australia.

CNL is the most popular Christian television channel in the countries of the former Soviet Union. Already airing his Ukrainian series for free, Volody is negotiating with CNL to air the Russian language series in the coming months at $220 per week—a modest price for such an audience, yet a big financial challenge for a congregation of less than 50 members that has yet to achieve church status.

Volody and his wife, Natalia, are gifted musicians whose ministry is seen in Spokane on KHBA television. They estimate nearly 70 percent of the 25,000 Slavic community members in Spokane have watched the program.

Volody considers Victor Gill, Canadian evangelist, his spiritual mentor. While a young seminarian, Volody served as translator for at least 14 different evangelistic series conducted by Victor. On a recent visit to the Nesteruk home in Spokane, Victor recounted that he "wasn't so sure about Volody at first." With laughter the two friends recall, "During that initial series of meetings, as Volody translated the sermons he never took his eyes off his shoes."

Now, able to look directly into the eyes of the congregation before him, as well as those in countries thousands of miles away, Volody proclaims the hope of Adventism.

Editors' note: Beyond those mentioned in these pages, there are many other Adventist-owned and operated media ministries throughout the Northwest. For a complete listing go to www.gleaneronline.org. Adventist members have a stellar opportunity to support these cutting-edge outreach efforts, reaching beyond the church walls. Jason can be reached at: www.bigpuddlefilms.com or email: jason@bigpuddlefilms.comphone.

August 01, 2008 / Feature