By Shannon Baker, BCM/D National Correspondent
COLUMBIA, Md.—The noises of the MRI machine were strangely comforting. Perhaps it was because she knew that it was taking photos of her head making sure all is well.
It also made her think of the sounds airplane engines make as she travels to take photos of what God is doing throughout the world.
Despite the risk that a brain tumor may grow back in her brain, Melody Warford continues her work as a media missionary, travelling to capture through film, photography, and graphic design how missionaries are sharing Christ with people groups throughout the world.
She operates through Global Outreach International, an inter-denominational foreign missions sending agency located in Tupelo, Miss.
Warford, a professional photographer, videographer and graphic designer who once worked with top U.S. governmental agencies, including the White House and the National Science Foundation, as well as the World Bank and Red Cross, believes that media is an important part of the Christian faith.
“Without it we would not have the letters that Paul wrote to the early church. Paul used every means of communication at his disposal to encourage, educate and involve his supporters and readers,” she notes. “As a result, millions have come to know the love of the living Christ, and become his followers.”
To this end, her ministry, Stone Soup Media, provides communications so that missionaries, organizations and individuals around the world can more effectively reach out to minister and witness.
And so that they can show their supporters back home what God is doing in their midst.
“Painting a picture of their work helps them encourage and involve others in their ministry,” she shares, adding that many missionaries have to raise their own support, but without the right media, it is difficult for them.
It all began 15 years ago, when Warford, a member of South Columbia Church in Columbia, Md., took a group of people to Kenya on a short-term mission trip.
There, the foreign missionaries had to handle all the mission tasks—evangelism, discipleship, teaching, fund-raising and communications. Warford immediately was drawn to help with their communications effort, offering to use her professional gifts to produce materials that would aid them in their ministry.
“Ah! That is such a great need,” affirmed the foreign missionaries—as well as many others since then. “We really need that!”
Warford returned home with a mission blossoming in her heart.
She later attended another missions meeting, where an African pastor shared a presentation about the work he was doing. His photos inspired her to want to give to his mission—and more than that, to go and be a part of what he was doing.
“That is the power of media,” she realized.
She quickly sought counsel from her trusted mentors and before she knew it, she was on a plane to Uganda, where she lived for two years, traveling around and producing media to assist the various mission organizations around her.
She secured missions funding that paid her travel and modest living costs, which allowed Warford to offer her services for free to the multi-denominational agencies that sought her help.
Notwithstanding, she still needs finances to cover other things so Global Outreach International (www.stonesoup.tv/participate.html) accepts donations on her behalf. Her biggest expenses are video equipment, a car and down payment on a rental home in Kampala, Uganda.
Warford rejoices in answered prayers for these needs.
“It totally amazes me how God steps in and provides at every turn,” Warford shares. “I believe that if somebody is called to be a missionary, He will provide.”
Since her beginnings, Warford has done work in Uganda, Haiti, Israel, Egypt, Southeast Asia, Mexico, Spain, Costa Rica and Ethiopia. She has also traveled extensively throughout the United States to network with other professional communicators to encourage them to be media missionaries.
Recently, doctors gave approval for Warford to return to Uganda, which will serve as her foreign base as she travels and continues her work. In addition to working in Uganda, she already has a trip planned for Thailand.
“The beauty of being in Uganda is that I can do more than communications work,” Warford says.
“In addition to doing all kinds of print, video-editing and photography, I am doing Bible studies with ladies who are on their own,” she adds, explaining that the elders in Uganda are few, so the young people don’t have many people to give them seasoned biblical advice.
“I am there for them to give them quality media,” she says. “And if I can tell their stories, I can inspire others to join in God’s work, too.”