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I Didn’t Sign Up For This

Jeff Raymond on November 20, 2016 Comments (1)

The parallels between our decisions in the recent US Presidential election and the decisions we’ve faced at our home church are uncanny.  Confronted with a choice between two flawed solutions, believers can become conflicted, antagonistic or obstinate. As an American, specifically, but more generally as a member of the human race, one of my biggest struggles is submission.  Since the first two human got this gravely wrong, how am I to get it right?  It just goes against our grain to be submissive to the leadership God has given us, primarily because in our culture, we define submission as “brainlessly...

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Portugal Workshop Wrap-up

Jeff Raymond on June 5, 2014

The smoke is finally clearing, having put the last photo student on a plane one week ago this morning.  After a couple of days off (and big birthday celebrations for Josiah and myself), I’m back to all the follow-up work from the Portugal trip – financial paperwork, finishing photos and videos, and having meetings in preparation for the next photo workshop (somewhere in the world)! The final exclamation point on the trip was the push toward Wednesday’s premier showing of the six student videos.  With video production, you are never done, but there is always a deadline.  After the pressure of...

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Stretching Experiences

Jeff Raymond on May 24, 2014

As we head into the final day here in Portugal, we are all being stretched to complete the videos.  We’ve lost a lot of valuable time away from the Lisbon Training Center (LTC) where we do our production work.  Last night, missionaries Doug & Sharon Fry took us on a wonderful excursion into downtown Lisbon for dinner. There was a major soccer championship, so roads were closed and crowds were thick.  But the wait at the restaurant for our unique dinner of “Steak on a Rock” was worth it.  (It was a hot “rock” that we cooked on.  I did...

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Rich in Content

Jeff Raymond on May 23, 2014

Portugal has a wealth of culture and history, but our focus early in the week has been on our video projects, and on the individuals whose stories we are telling.  Students are getting 4-5 hours of sleep each night, and instructors more like 2-4 hours as we prepare content for the next day of teaching.  We are adjusting on-the-fly as we see specific needs that students have. I have been blown away by the level of teaching and coaching that our students are receiving.  Stanley Leary and James Dockery are incredibly knowledgeable and gifted at teaching, as well as devoted...

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Expect the Unexpected

Jeff Raymond on May 20, 2014

Descending on a new culture, with new people and new places, you would expect our team of workshop students to stumble upon the unexpected.  That's exactly what's happening (as expected). Our days begin with team devotions led by one of our ABWE missionaries.  Today, church-planter Andy Cook shared with us.  He related some of the trials faced by his family as they committed to serving Christ in Portugal, and how God created a trail amidst the obstacles.  Then, after he shared with us, the unexpected happened.  In a powerful moment, the Spirit led the team to surround Andy for an...

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Portugal Workshop - Day 1

Jeff Raymond on May 19, 2014

Our "home" for the week is ABWE's Lisbon Training Center (LTC), high on a hill overlooking Portugal's capital.  It's provided a beautiful backdrop for photography students who are working around the campus on their projects.  The LTC is a beautiful facility housing both the Greater Lisbon Christian Academy and guest facilities.  So we are able to stay here, eat here, hold classes for our students, as well excellent work areas for computer and camera equipment. One of the first cultural experiences for the team is taking them to a local cafe.  Portugal is famous for it's coffee and gourmet pastries. ...

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Photo workshop students head to Portugal

Jeff Raymond on May 18, 2014

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Photo workshop students head to Portugal

Jeff Raymond on May 18, 2014

ABWE’s first International Missions Photography Workshop kicked off this week.  Students arrived here in Harrisburg, PA from all over the States to receive hands-on visual storytelling training. Our goal is to introduce students to the idea of a missionary career as a visual communicator.  For years, Jeff has had the desire to begin training photo students overseas on location, working alongside our missionaries.  Jeff left with the team of six students today to head to Portugal where they will meet up with one other student and two co-instuctors. We spent the last three days here at ABWE's Home Office &...

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Celebrating Who?

Jeff Raymond on April 15, 2014

I don't know if you watch March madness or not. You have the nation’s top college teams battling head-to-head in game after game of single elimination basketball.  Imagine getting to the final game – the national championship.  Millions are watching.  The broadcast announcer calls the entire game without one reference to either of the two teams who have worked so hard to earn their spot in this definitive event.  No reference to any of the individual players.  No mention of the coaches’ names.  Sound ridiculous?  The whole purpose of the national championship game is to celebrate the teams and players...

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Destination: Portugal

Jeff Raymond on November 20, 2013 Comments (3)

Western Europe Regional Conference, Madeira, Portugal - we've been invited to teach 120 missionaries who gather for their bi-annual conference.  Our training will help these servants of Christ add to their skills in visual storytelling and support-raising strategies.  Missionaries attending serve in Ireland, England, Germany, Italy, Spain, France, Norway, and Portugal. In addition to teaching throughout the week, we’ll have plenty of time to interact with our missionary families, as we will all be staying at the same conference center.  Regional conferences are a time missionaries can unplug from the pressures of their regular ministries, so we have found it...

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New Life in Costa Rica

Jeff Raymond on October 20, 2013 Comments (2)

Ana arrived on Monday morning with mixed emotions.  As member of Fuerza Publica, the national police force in Costa Rica, Ana was excited to receive police training they’d never been given, yet maybe a bit uncertain, even inadequate.  She didn’t have much confidence in her tactical skills, and didn’t receive much respect as a woman nor a police officer. But these Americans, for some reason she couldn’t understand, were taking their time to travel to her country to offer free help.  It was puzzling, yet exciting. As a lieutenant in her precinct, Ana was sent along with a few of...

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Costa Rica Chronicles, Day 8

Jeff Raymond on October 5, 2013

Saturday, Oct 6 With the week of training over, today was a day of team activities before everyone heads home tomorrow, leaving the difficult and on-going job of following up with new believers to our missionary team.   "Team TACTICA" consists of missionaries Ryan and Gretchen Rought and their two daughters, Jon and Joni McGinnis and their four children, and Mike and Arlene Armstrong, all of whom live full-time in Costa Rica. By Friday night all of us were so fried that we couldn't even think straight. I didn't even pack up my equipment after finishing the graduation ceremony - just...

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Costa Rica Chronicles, Day 7

Jeff Raymond on October 4, 2013 Comments (1)

Friday, Oct 5 This was a day I’ll never forget.  It was a historical day and a day of eternal impact.  It was a day of celebration and of difficult farewells. The highlights are easy to summarize… The first ever use of the TACTICA Ministry Center – the new home base of operations Many Costa Rican officers making the decision to follow Jesus Conclusion of police training and final exam Festive graduation ceremony to commemorate course completion …but the stories of each played out as a continual manifestation of God’s hand at work. I expected that as I started the...

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Costa Rica Chronicles, Day 6

Jeff Raymond on October 3, 2013

Thursday, Oct 3 Yesterday ended and today began with a big question mark as to what I’d be doing today.  It was either another day like yesterday at the prison shooting range, or a Women’s Conference.  One began at 5am, the other at 9am.  One was outdoors in the sun and the mud with endless action, the other was indoors in low light with not much action at all, but with audio recording requirements.  Both required me to get gear to some other location…somehow. These logistical uncertainties made it impossible both to pull together the equipment I needed, and to...

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Costa Rica Chronicles, Day 5

Jeff Raymond on October 2, 2013 Comments (3)

Wednesday, October 2 As the powerful Creator of the universe, nothing God comes up with to reach into hearts and draw them back to Himself should surprise us.  When people look at TACTICA and say, “Wow, that’s a unique ministry,” they are usually referring to the fact that these missionaries teach the use of street fighting and weapons in order for police officers to perform their duties.  But I just have to tell you that what is happening here is Costa Rica is so much more than that.  The hearts of the missionaries, and of the team of law enforcement...

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Costa Rica Chronicles, Day 4

Jeff Raymond on October 1, 2013

Tuesday, October 1 After a late night finishing up photos and unloading camera cards, getting up this morning was really tough.  I shot video all day yesterday, and video takes up a LOT more storage space.  The card I left importing overnight still was not finished when I woke up.  Fortunately it finished about 5 minutes before we had to leave. Shooting video and taking still photographs are different animals.  The equipment set up is totally different and the thinking is totally different.  Since I have to transport all the gear each day, my plan was to shoot only video...

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Costa Rica Chronicles, Day 3

Jeff Raymond on September 30, 2013

Monday, September 30 4:45 am – Alarm.  Wow, up before it gets light, which is 5:00 Pack up a large amount of video gear 5:45 am – creatively insert said gear into Mike Armstrong’s VW and head for the TACTICA Ministry Center where I grabbed some oatmeal.  Actually I put it in a bowl and grabbed a spoon.  Mike and I didn’t stay there with the team, we had to head over to Dos Pinos (Twin Pines training site) to meet guys delivering chairs and porta-potties, both very important. It’s a beautiful sunny morning and very quiet as nobody else...

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Costa Rica Chronicles, Day 2

Jeff Raymond on September 29, 2013

Sunday, September 29 Not sure what equipment to take to church – photo vs video – because I’m not sure what will happen at the church we are visiting that is related to the video project I am here for.  The logistics of hauling equipment are challenging as I cannot just take everything with me.  First it has to fit into a 1964 VW Beetle, then be transferred onto a bus full of police officers. Today everyone arrived in full dress uniform from their various police, SWAT, FBI, etc. assignments at home.  With all the shiny medals these guys have...

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Costa Rica Chronicles, Day 1

Jeff Raymond on September 29, 2013 Comments (3)

Saturday, Sept 28 Unusual shower – The shower here has one knob.  There’s only cold water, and the shower head is the heating element.  As the water passes through the head, it’s heated.  The way you control the temperature of the water, is by how hard the flow is.  (You can get decent water pressure if you take an ice cold shower, or you can have a warm trickle). But it wasn’t working right today, so this morning I got a really cold shower anyway. We have three ABWE missionary families here working with TACTICA ministry to police officers -...

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Keep Looking Down

Jeff Raymond on August 15, 2013 Comments (2)

I'll never be bored.  Being a detail person provides an endless supply of potential activities.  Things are further complicated by the fact that I'm also a perfectionist.  But that's a good thing right?  We serve a God of order Who has put infinite detail into everything He's created.  He orchestrates the movements thereof.  Christ is the perfect example of how we are to live, so emulating perfection is a good thing, right?  Sometimes.  Sometimes not so easy. I tend to notice things others are oblivious to (details).  We have a gravel driveway, and I’m forever noticing the little weeds popping...

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An Eventful Easter

Jeff Raymond on April 2, 2013

Easter brings an overabundance of emotions as I consider the depth of meaning of Resurrection Sunday.  It also brings back deeply-held memories from 17 years ago, when my father passed into glory.  What a day to enter the presence of the LORD, on Resurrection Sunday. To make the day even more momentous, my daughter, Abigail Grace (Abby), had her 9th birthday.  So this past weekend we have been celebrating a life lived, a life given, and eternal life restored...all in the same day! The morning began with a worshipful celebration of Christ’s resurrection as Becky and Abby both participated in...

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Wet Rag Races

Jeff Raymond on November 1, 2012 Comments (1)

We were sitting down to the dinner table this evening, and Becky warned me, “Watch where you walk in the kitchen.  The kids made a mess of jelly and the floor has some VERY sticky spots.”  Becky’s back has been in pain today, so my first thought was to have the kids wash the floor after dinner. Bursting forth from some creative depth, found all-too-infrequently in parenting, came an interesting new idea.  Informing the kids, I said, “After dinner we can all help mommy with the dishes, then play WRR!” Knowing their intrigue for acronyms, Abby and Josiah were abuzz...

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Keeping My Focus in the Fog

Becky Raymond on October 15, 2012 Comments (1)

Anesthesia and I are not good friends.  I’ve always been one to avoid it at (nearly) all cost.  When I go in for dental work, I decline the shot and gut it out because I hate being numb all day.  When I recently had to undergo an outpatient procedure, I was told that general anesthesia was required.  I hadn’t been put to sleep since I had my wisdom teeth pulled in college, so I really didn’t know what I was in for. I guess the good part is no pain.  That’s about the only good part.  I very much disliked...

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Lessons in Armor

Jeff Raymond on May 28, 2012 Comments (1)

We recently found a way to enrich our tradition of “Family Fun Fridays”.  At a recent Christian homeschool convention, we bought a couple of books full of ideas for meaningful family nights that go beyond just fun, and teach a hands-on Bible lesson.  This past week, we tried the first lesson: putting on the armor of God.  It was so much fun to watch the kids race around the house searching for the perfect examples of each piece of armor, which we used to arm soldier boy Josiah for battle.  The lesson also included an object lesson with water, paper,...

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Fear of Commitment

Jeff Raymond on April 13, 2012

Hangups about leaving missionaries hangingPotential partners are often hesitant to commit to giving a "monthly amount" to missionaries.  We've found that people have one of two main concerns.1. Unable to Give MonthlyMany people have an irregular income flow that makes it difficult to give a set amount each month.  Others simply don't want the hassle of remembering each month.  Well, we have good news.  ABWE allows donors to send gifts monthly, quarterly, annually or even irregularly.  This works great for a number of our partners who get annual bonuses or tax returns, or for people who handle their finances quarterly.How...

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Go, Go, Grow

Jeff Raymond on March 24, 2012

Go The Raymond family are no strangers to being on the road for a month solid.  However doing four back-to-back trips that add up to a month is a whole different experience.  It’s much easier to stay on the road, then to get back on the road.  Michigan – 10 days, 4 meetings + move my mom (Photo Gallery)  Texas – 5 days – 2 conferences (Photo Gallery)  Florida – 10 days, 12 meetings (Photo Gallery)  Washington DC – 4 days, 1 conference (Photo Gallery) Go In fact, just about everything about the past month has been a new experience. ...

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Little sacrifices

Jeff Raymond on February 7, 2012 Comments (2)

Life is about choices.  The things we are able to do, achieve, and experience are dependent on the choices we make in the use of our time, thoughts, and resources.  As a creative person, I’ve been astounded lately as I hear of the creative ways God’s people are finding to give to missions.  While Becky and I have compiled a list of non-cash ways to give to missions (see Creative Ways to Help), some of the sacrifices and just plain clever-thinking we’ve heard about from other missionaries has been eye-opening.  Here are some recent examples: Combo meals cost at least...

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Ode to the Bench Warmer

Jeff Raymond on January 15, 2012 Comments (5)

Creative people have to have “think time”.  I need to download my brain in a location where I do not see other projects around, and that tends to happen in one of two places – in the shower and on my bike.  Bicycle that is.  While riding the other day, I got thinking about the fact that most of those we have built friendships with have happened in recent years.  Most of you only know the missions / ministry side of me.   Sports plays a key role in my pre-ABWE life.  Professionally, much of my photography career was covering...

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23 years - 1000 prayers

Jeff Raymond on October 31, 2011 Comments (2)

“I must have prayed for you a thousand times over these years,” came the startling words from a man I had had no contact with for many years.  John and his wife of 23 years, Jennifer, were one of the very first weddings I had photographed back in my days of portrait studio work in Michigan.  Although I was struck by the families’ vibrant Christian testimony, it was a business relationship, and we had no reason to stay in contact after the wedding. Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;...

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Just because I said it doesn’t mean they heard it

Jeff Raymond on October 25, 2011

Those words echoed loud and clear within the walls of the ABWE Training Center today as I listened to Dave Arch teach a group of missionaries and ministry leaders.  Dave is one of the nation’s leading experts in creative training techniques.  “Moving Beyond Lecture” is a course I’ve taken twice in past years, but this year was asked to create PR photographs during the class.  So, I’ve been working…and listening.  This class has revolutionized the way I teach.  People do not learn by listening, they learn by active involvement and by having time to process and store information into long-term...

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God of the Infinite…and Infinitesimal

Jeff Raymond on October 21, 2011 Comments (2)

“We can see what God is like through the universe He has made,” I explained as I read to the kids at bedtime tonight.  We talked about His power and wonder.  “He made the earth by His power; he founded the world by his wisdom and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.”  Jeremiah 51:15 I reminded them of the night in Oklahoma a couple of weeks back, when our host – an avid astronomer – set up his telescope for them to gaze into the heavens.  He began pointing out the immensity of the universe, the complexity of the...

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Home at last!

Becky Raymond on October 20, 2011

Phew!  I feel like we just traveled the world and back, but we were ONLY in 13 states and drove 4,900 miles.  Sometimes I think Jeff wants to break the record by having supporters in every single state!  We had a great 5-week tour through the middle of the United States, but it is so GOOD to be home.  We have been amazed and delighted as we have entered each and every home, that no matter the economic status, customs, background, styles & preferences, whether old friends or perfect strangers, we have experienced a wonderful bond with each family, that can only be...

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I can read, but...

Jeff Raymond on August 5, 2011 Comments (1)

Friday Family Feature It’s so fun to watch a beginning reader that is so literal start to read everything in sight.  Josiah has become a pretty good reader, which really increases the number of entertainment options for him when we’re traveling.  But it also provides some great entertainment for us as we get a window into his 5-year-old understanding of the world. Seeing a ‘No Loitering’ sign, he declared, “Hey, that’s NOT how you spell ‘Littering.’   As our son quietly read the label on a sparkling juice bottle, ‘Alcohol free’, he suddenly exclaimed, “Hey, this says it’s FREE!”  ...

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Tentmaker: To be or not to be?

Jeff Raymond on August 1, 2011 Comments (1)

Monday Ministry MomentBeing a creative professional, I am never without amazement at the creative ways God funds His work.  Scripture gives no set formula.  There are countless ways in which ministry needs were met.  As we meet with people to explain our ministry of Visual Communications, many excellent ideas have been suggested on alternative models of funding.  One often-suggested idea is the idea of “tentmaking” – that is, working an outside job to generate funds for ministry.  Which begs the question, under what circumstances (if any) should a missionary self-fund their ministries through “tentmaking”? Paul is the premier Biblical example...

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Using established media to communicate the innovative

Jeff Raymond on May 18, 2011 Comments (3)

Who better to recognize the power of media for use in missions than a life-long media professional?  While speaking at a church in upstate New York, I met a radio talk show host who was thrilled to hear how we are using visual media to share world missions.  Dan Dunn related some of the ways he has seen radio touch the lives of those searching for truth, and even more the potential impact of visual media in a very visual generation.  This interest led to an invitation to conduct a radio interview to be featured as a two-part series as...

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Sharing the Joy of Easter

Jeff Raymond on April 25, 2011

  On Easter Sunday, our family was blessed to take "church" to the residents of a local nursing home. (View Photo Gallery here)  This is a place we minister to monthly when we are in town, so we're getting to know the people fairly well.  With this visit falling on Easter, many from our church that usually go with us were not able to.  So, the whole service was our family.  Becky's mom played piano, while Becky led music.  Abby and Josiah sang and played piano, and Jeff delivered an Easter message.  The kids were also busy Saturday making Easter cards...

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A Flood of Activity

Jeff Raymond on April 19, 2011

  Warily making our way through the mountains of western PA all day Saturday in a torrential downpour, we arrived home safely at the unusually early hour of 4pm.  Usually we get in late and have no time to get unpacked.  But this time we were determined to unload the van, empty the suitcases and get our tired bodies to bed early.  That is until, we heard curious sounds out front of our house.  This was about 9:30pm.  Exploring the source, we saw rising waters that soon encircled our house.  Cars attempting to pass through the waters covering the road...

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Arrived from Texas in Two Pieces

Jeff Raymond on March 24, 2011

We are safely home from our trip to Texas and Oklahoma, but it didn’t come without another unforgettable incident to add to our memoirs.  After an event-free week, the last day brought a curve ball as we set out to travel home.  Awaiting take-off on our flight Thursday, March 10th, from Dallas, the pilot had just announced a 45-minute wait.  Josiah started complaining of a severe headache, then began vomiting.  The pilot decided to return to the gate so we could seek medical help for him.  Becky got off the plane with Josiah, while Abby and Jeff stayed and flew...

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