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Mentoring in Visual Media

April 28, 2021

Mentoring in Visual Media

April 28, 2021

Deditos uses finger "puppets" to tell dramatized Biblical stories like Moses warning Pharaoh of the ten plagues“Some think in terms of good, Christian television. I'm more motivated by the idea of Christians...making good television. And that's not to say we compromise our priorities. It's what was modeled to me in high school, watching HCJB (now Reach Beyond) musicians and teachers who worked to honor God through their craft, their professions. It was not a place for substandard work.”

John Gowan has spent the majority of his life as a missionary creating videos to engage hearts with the Gospel. As the teenage son of Reach Beyond missionaries, he participated in some of the mission's earliest television productions.

“A lot of the missionaries were involved with programming. And seeing what they did was my first taste of it. I knew I wanted more.”

After graduating from Biola University and then teaching college theater for 6 years, John and his wife Sharon began serving with Reach Beyond in Quito, Ecuador. John was quickly immersed in writing, directing, and editing TV projects as well as translating for U.S.-based ministries including Charles Stanley and Adrian Rogers.

The early 2000's found the mission regrouping and refocusing their media strategies. An opportunity opened for John to go to Guatemala to teach and mentor younger video producers and assist various Christian video ministries in the region.

Reach Beyond missionary John Gowan mentors and gives direction during a recording session of Deditos in Guatemala.One of those, Deditos (little fingers), came to him for training. He ended up joining their team full-time as both a mentor and dramatic director. Deditos is a series of
engaging videos that retell foundational Old Testament stories with personified human fingers. It's clever, fun, and appeals to kids as well as adults.

"There's such a void of good Biblical material for children around the world. That's one of the big appeals of Deditos. Another is that, by design, it works just as well when translated into other languages." Deditos has been translated into several major and tribal languages and is being used in churches around the world. John's eye for upholding international best practices in video production and helping younger visionaries to embrace them to be better at their craft is something he's come to be known and respected for. COVID-19's impact has reduced his travel but has also opened the door to teach virtually in international seminar settings.

This year, John heads back to Ecuador to work shoulder-to shoulder with Radio HCJB's Ecuadorian production staff, including a former student of his who is producing dramatic feature films with purpose for theaters. "The films present what it can look like to follow God's way, and they work hard to avoid falling back on formulaic Christian clichés or simplistic answers. The vision is to present Christianity and life with God in a faithful way by engaging and moving wide audiences with quality, visual storytelling.”

Children in Colombia watching Dedidos programs at home. FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS

Amidst the COVID-19 lockdowns, churches worldwide have been working to figure out how to minister to families who may not be able or allowed to come to their church building. Cruzada Christiana is a church in Bogotá, Columbia that started using Deditos as a core way to equip families in their homes through their YouTube channel.

The pastor of the church sent a letter to the producers saying, "You could not have imagined, years ago when God inspired you to produce this incredibly valuable material, that God would use it for a time such as this…"

Around 700-1,000 children are watching Deditos each week, especially throughout North and South America.