The Visual Advocate Blog

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Help-Portrait was a blast!

I can’t believe how fast this week flew by! I had great ambitions of writing a blog post right after the Help-Portrait event last Saturday and then somehow a day turned into a week. Anyway, the event was super fun and a real joy to be a part of. Time and time again I heard from the participants that they were so blessed to finally get some good pictures of themselves and their  families for free! The day after the event I got a text from a friend who brought her neighbor, this is what it said: “Thanks so much. Nikole my neighbor was kinda dumbfounded that u guys did this service just as a free service. It really touched her and us!”

Though I had a blast doing the shooting, I think one of my favorite memories was sitting next to a single mom as we looked at pictures I just took of her son in Lightroom 3. As we scrolled through the images picking our favorites, she just kept saying, “Oh, my gosh,  these are so good,  I can’t believe this!” As I sat there with her, I was just as blessed as she was because I got to be part of helping her in a small way. It may seem like a small thing to have good pictures of your family to those of us who can do this whenever we want. But I realized how even the smallest acts of service can make a difference. So get out there and use what you have to be a blessing!

Corvallis Help-Portrait photographers and volunteers

Jennifer and her son, David, were blessed to get their picture taken.

One of the many participants that was blessed by our Help-Portrait event.



Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater

One of the many news vans parked outside the local mosque in my city.

I didn’t plan to write this post until last night when I found out that someone tried to set the mosque in my city on fire because the 19-year old Somali immigrant who tried to detonate a bomb during the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony at Pioneer Square in Portland, Oregon occasionally worshiped there.

As soon as my wife and I heard about this we called our Muslim friends to tell them we were praying for them and ask if there was anything we could do. I ended up going to the mosque to talk and eat with the leaders as a sign of my friendship and support.

I arrived right before evening prayers began so after chatting briefly with a few of my Muslim friends, they took their place in line to pray and I sat in the back and waited for them to finish.

After the prayers ended we went downstairs to eat and talk more about what had happened at Pioneer Square and why someone would try to burn down the mosque.

Remnants of Qurans that were not totally destroyed by the fire.

Everyone I talked with shared the same thing; they didn’t want people to think that this terrorist represented them, their mosque or the global system of Islam. Having spent a lot of time with these guys as well as with Muslims around the world, I knew what they were saying is true. We must not believe the major media that makes it seem that terrorism is a foundational part of Islam. The reality is that only about 4% of Muslims world wide are the fanatical types behind acts of terrorism like what happened in Portland.

Flowers and notes outside the mosque demostrating support for the Muslims in our city

So I just want to end with this. Please don’t let fear stop you from taking the steps to reach out to Muslims you know. In our post 9/11 world we must not let fear drive up to believe stereotypes and biases about people that are not true. Yes there are people in the world who call themselves Muslims and are doing horrible things. But the reality is there are people from every religion in the world doing things that dishonor God and perpetuate hateful stereotypes, biases and prejudice that divides peoples and cultures. Let’s not let our lives be ruled by fear.