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Cameraman heads church’s media ministry

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Uplifting the congregation: Jonathan Rogers has produced a series of short videos higlighting positive stories in the church community

No matter what your gift or talent, God can use you.

Case in point: Jonathan Rogers, a former ZBM cameraman who also worked for international stations ABC, CNN and NBC, now heads the media ministry at First Church of God, North Shore.

His latest project there is Hallelujah Headlines, a series of short videos played during the Sunday service highlighting positive stories in the church community.

“We actually did something similar in the 90s, but it didn’t have the same pizazz as it does now,” the father of two said.

“Last June we relaunched Hallelujah Headlines as a nice way of getting our church announcements out there to the congregation. My eldest daughter Khylah was the host before church member Dwain Smith took that over when she went back to school.

“We use video to share updates or milestones achieved by our church family. For instance, we’ve shared the story of Marcus Stevens who grew up at our church and is now a private in the British military, serving in Cyprus. There are so many stories we just don’t know about and this is a way to share people’s lives and testimony. I’m sure Marcus is going to have more stories that we are able to report on in the future.”

Traditional news can be grim; Hallelujah Headlines aims to give people hope and share the “good news” of Jesus Christ as Saviour.

“That’s the best news in the world,” Mr Rogers said. “So while the Biblical message hasn’t changed, how we present it has changed dramatically and we have to become consistently aware of who our target is — the world, people lost without a saviour. That’s where Hallelujah Headlines comes in, it’s good news in a troubled world.”

Mr Rogers came up with the idea but it was Bishop Vernon Lambe who pushed for the church’s media ministry more than 20 years ago. He saw TV as an important tool to embrace.

The church also films its weekly messages and posts them on Lightsource, a Christian streaming site similar to YouTube.

“I always say Bishop Lambe is camera-ready,” Mr Rogers said. “His preaching method is so timely and his words of inspiration are very much appropriate for this day and age. He provides useful concepts for living by taking Biblical stories and scriptures and allowing people to live them out practically in their everyday life.”

Mr Rogers started working as an intern at ZBM at the age of 14. When he was saved 25 years ago, he had no idea how he would use his skill for God’s glory, but over time it became more clear.

“I got saved the same day Nelson Mandela got freed from prison on February 11, 1990,” he said. “He was freed and so was I.

“Alana [my now wife] invited me to a service back before we were married and I said, ‘OK, I will do it. I will come’. Bishop Lambe was preaching that day on God and breaking free from things that hold you down and was quoting Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King. It made so much sense and I had to ask myself, ‘What’s holding you back?’ “That day I said, ‘Lord, I surrender’ and I just gave my heart to Him right there and then.”

Since then God has been showing him ways to use his gifts and talents for the Kingdom.

“Before I was saved I used to drink and party, but God had a better plan for me,” he said. “When I first came here there was no TV ministry. We started it way back then — it was done with a lens cap swinging from a VHS camera — and now we have a team of 15 members in the media department.

“I feel God has called me to be some kind of a 21st-century scribe, electronically recording and documenting what happens at our church and in the world.

“Video has become such a big part of our mainstay with internet, cable and other visual entities, and it’s still as powerful or maybe even more powerful today because of social media. Now everyone can take pictures or videos of their highlights and send them in to us and we can upload it in a short time to include in the service or online.”

By being obedient to God’s voice, many opportunities have come his way. When T.D. Jakes, the bishop of non-denominational American megachurch The Potter’s House, came to the island in the 1990s, God opened up the door for Mr Rogers to work with him.

“The biggest lesson for me has been learning to stay in prayer, continue listening and to stay alert,” he said. “I had been to one of T.D. Jakes’s conferences in the US and met a TV production manager there. I introduced myself and said, ‘I’m Jonathan from Bermuda’. I wanted to see what it was like behind the scenes and the production manager showed me around and took my number. Months later he called me up and said, ‘T.D. Jakes will be coming to the island, will you film some footage with him and his wife?’

“That day I took my video camera and, on a whim, I decided to take my still camera with me as well. We shot the interviews down on South Shore and after that was done his wife was looking around worried because the photographer who was supposed to take their pictures was not there.

“I said, ‘I have a camera’ and she asked me to take their pictures. Lo and behold those images made their posters and other promotional materials. That all happened because I was prepared and ready. It just reminds me to be equipped because you never know how God is going to use you.”

•See the latest Hallelujah Headlines on Facebook: Official First Church of God Bermuda

Jonathan Rogers(Photograph supplied)