Darkness is an unsettling presence in our world today – pervasive always, disregarded often. So many of us turn a blind eye to the hunger, the disease, and the violence that breeds in every corner of the globe. There are some, however, who choose to enter into these shadows and engage them.
Before reaching the age of 25, John and Shannon left the country looking for a way that they could make an impact on the world. Soon, they discovered the need of Venezuelan street kids and they were all in. They started getting to know these kids who were sniffing glue, hooked on cocaine, parentless, and hopeless. These eyes were the future of Venezuela. These mouths, the ones to rebuild or destroy. These hands, the ones to kill or bring life. These young kids would grow to be either leaders or drug dealers. Faced with all this darkness, John and Shannon had to do something about it.
After years of dedicating their lives to these kids, their hard work has truly paid off. My friends, Kevin and Davis, and I sat across the table as John and Shannon shared of young boys who grew up on the streets, became gang leaders, were transformed, and now act as leaders of their Venezuelan organization, Ninos De La Luz.
I wanted to help. I asked them to send me a link to their website, quickly dismissing the thought of how I would tell my parents I was ready to sell everything, pack up, and move to Venezuela. I opened the link and clicked on one of their videos with excitement. Within one minute I was confused, bored, and uninterested. Their inspiring story dissipated into slow, outdated media sliding across my screen.
This wasn’t the first time this had happened. Countless times I have sat through dull presentations, lackluster slideshows, and unprofessional films. Blurry old photos and shaky films would mask the beauty of a remarkable story.
As Davis, Kevin, and I began to examine the skills and passions we have been given, we realized there was a different trajectory. We began to ask ourselves if we could leverage our passion for film to raise organizations like Ninos De La Luz into the public eye. What if we made a compelling and professional film for an organization that told their story well?
Let’s say a film inspires people, and the organization raises $100,000. With that money the organization drills five wells, which in turn impacts 5,000 people each day. Through one film, we could not only inspire people here but also transform the lives of thousands each day. I began to see the power of film as exponential.
Quickly, however, I found that most organizations lack the ability or funding to hire a team of filmmakers. What if we could just give this away? No questions asked and no stake in the game.
Our eyes for film and hearts for these organizations has developed into Join the Lights, a non-profit which uses media to discover, empower, and share these remarkable stories. To launch Join the Lights we decided to hunt down more stories like John and Shannon’s.
We are embarking on a twelve-month journey, visiting twelve organizations in twelve countries, and creating films for each one. We will be raising funds through personal finances, donations, and various platforms such as IndieGoGo (our campaign ends Sunday). In November Join the Lights will leave for its first organization on the tour – Ninos De La Luz. At the end of the month, we will give them a new film to help share their story, grow their mission, and continue to be a light in the shadows.
This is just our way of using our skills and talents to further bless people. We hope more than anything that you are inspired to take what you’re good at (because I know you are amazing at a lot of things) and use it well.
Above is a compilation of films over the last year including some narrative, documentary and commercial work.