Melissa Mott butters the toast with precision.
It’s just toast, some may say. But this time it’s a little more than just toast and Mott is in charge of all the little details and wants to make sure it looks right.
A small prop used for a morning scene at the breakfast table, this toast is placed next to a cup of hot chocolate, sitting delicately on a saucer.
The actors pull up a chair.
The scene is set.
Places everyone. And action.
Welcome to the making of a My Hope training video.
“It’s just a video,” said BGEA’s Greg Matthews, director of the My Hope Zambia video. “But it goes out to tens of thousands of people.”
Yes, in many ways it may seem like just a video, a 15-minute tutorial that gives pastors a clear picture of what a My Hope night will look like on Dec. 1, 2 and 3.
But the impact is far-reaching and that is not lost on Matthews, who knows that in a very real way, eternal lives may be at stake in how the final production turns out.
“We’re working in a huge country that stretches from Tanzania to Namibia so the video is the primary means of training,” Matthews said. “We’re trying to demonstrate what it is to be a ‘Matthew.’ ”
And that “Matthew” concept of inviting friends over to your house, taken from Matthew Chapter 9, is the foundation for all My Hope projects. This training video puts an image to the concept and brings it to life.
“We want the pastors to have a prominent place in the project,” Matthews said. “This allows us to create a sense of standardization.”
But creating that sense takes a lot of planning. And thought. And prayer.
Sensing the Holy Spirit’s direction is a key element in making the video and that’s not lost on the video team.
Sure, details like perfectly-cut toast on the breakfast table, or buttery popcorn and chips in a neat bowl as the evening guests arrive for the My Hope broadcast may seem like mindless minutia, but there is a greater purpose.
It’s about casting a vision to pastors and church leaders. It’s about giving them a clear picture of this My Hope concept where one may not exist.
“The idea of a training video was developed for the India project (in 2005),” Matthews said. “It was such a big land area, there was no way to do this without a video training.”
The concept worked and has been apart of the project ever since, each video customized to fit the particular country, translated into the appropriate languages.
The My Hope Zambia training video will be translated to English, Bemba and Nyanja, the three most prevalent languages in a country comprised of 72 different dialects.
But first, there is a video to shoot. And on the first weekend of May, at a modest middle-class home in Lusaka, it was an all-consuming project.
It started at sunset on Friday night, as the video team and a full assembly of tall spot lights and shooting equipment went through the paces, ready for the first take, when…
A power-outage, aka load-shedding, hit just as momentum was kicking in and no generator in sight.
It was just the beginning of an intense 48-hour span that included 24 hours of video shooting.
“That’s part of doing business (in Africa),” Matthews said. “Load-shedding. Cable-swapping. There’s different power connectors. The U.S. has a different connector than Zambia, which has a different connector than South Africa.”
Two Christian videographers, Hein Schlebusch and Warren Brown were excited to be involved with such an eternally-impacting project.
“Our mission statements are very similar – to turn Africa back to God,” Schlebusch said. “I like that it’s a personal thing.”
The My Hope project will give Zambians an opportunity to reach their friends with the Gospel of Jesus, then get plugged into a local church, using a 26-week follow-up discipleship materials.
“That’s what we’re called to do,” Schlebusch said. “To make disciples.”
But first, there’s a video to finish.
And after all the technical snags, set changes and scene retakes, the bulk of footage had been shot by the end of the weekend. Just a couple additional voice-over shots were left.
“We’re a little bit tired,” Brown said. “But it’s a nice tired. A satisfied tired. We’re still excited.”
The final editing touches are currently being mastered and the training video will then be sent out to My Hope Zambia coordinators, who will use the video to train pastors, who will then train potentially 60,000 “Matthews” in their churches throughout the country.
“And beyond My Hope, they’ll be able to use their testimony four years from now,” Matthew said. “It’s a long-term effect. We’re throwing seed over the entire country.”