June 17, 2003
BRANSON – Ten students from First Baptist Church, Branson, memorized a total of 567 Bible verses this past school year through faithful participation in a junior high photography club.
The Awana group had a student-to-teacher ratio of 2:1. The directors of the group, professional photographers Dave and Ginny Cain, were joined by Secretary Cindy Kershaw and volunteers Merrilyn Fish and Carolyn Lilley. Memorization was encouraged one-on-one this way.
Photography became the means by which the students grew in their faith. They learned about technical aspects like shutter speed, composing, manual focusing and selective focusing. Above all, they learned about the beauty of God’s creation in light and people.
A local photo lab provided the film and developing free of charge. Students are given a roll of 36 exposures and told to use their 35 millimeter cameras to meet a particular challenge. That leads to a teaching time for their next session.
“The following week the students receive their pictures back, along with a lot of praise for jobs well done,” said Ginny Cain. “On this evening the photo lesson is used to make a spiritual point. Scripture is shared and because the lesson is laid along side of pictures the students took themselves and lessons they learned hands on, lasting and life-changing impressions are made.”
One week the students were told to take 36 different pictures of the Taneycomo Bridge. Eli Langford said it couldn’t be done. But as Anna Wilcox said, “We started out on top of the bridge, looking at it the way we’re used to seeing it. Then we went under the bridge and it was all new.”
Other weeks were spent taking pictures of the large stained glass window at First, Branson. Classic cars and lights on businesses in downtown Branson were also photographed.
A photo exhibit in May in the church’s Fellowship Hall brought the photography club to a close. Each student had nine photographs, one from each of the sessions, enlarged and displayed.
“The whole church showed up in support of their efforts,” Cain said. “What a way to encourage teenagers!”
Plans for next year’s club are already percolating. Sky Yugo wants to take pictures of water. Christine Kershaw aims to shoot flowers up close. Julia Bryant intends to take beach photos and Kelli Meyer wants to capture the warm color of sunsets.
Getting close to God’s creation is one thing. Getting close to His Word is the greater objective. That is what the 567 memorized verses represent.
“Now that’s focusing on the truth,” Cain said.