A simple four-word prayer changed my life.
As a wedding photographer for many years, I longed for “more.” I still loved documenting love stories, but I felt called to use the photography skills God had blessed me with to make a difference. I had no idea how to do this. And so, I prayed a simple prayer: “Use my camera, Lord.”
That prayer was uttered in November 2011. In December, while doing some volunteer photography at the Ronald McDonald House in Toronto, I met a young girl who stole my heart. Little Miss Meera was two years old and courageously fighting cancer. I connected with her mom, and before long I had blurted out, “Can I document Meera and her journey for the next year?”
Over the course of 2012, I photographed Meera and her family once a month during doctor appointments, birthdays, her last chemo treatment, her “Chemo’s done” party and then when her cancer came back and drastic surgery was required on her face.
At Christmas, the family was overwhelmed by the response as strangers donated gifts and funds to shower them with love. One of my favourite responses was a group of college guys who called themselves the “Knights of Princess Meera” who raised support for a toddler they had never even met but had fallen in love with through my camera lens.
“Use my camera, Lord.”
In the winter of 2012, a friend shared a photo contest Watoto was having looking for images to go with the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Three winners would be chosen to go to Africa and document Watoto’s work alongside mentor photographers form the National Post. I entered an image from my journey with Meera and was shocked to receive a call, telling me I had won!
Traveling to Uganda in June 2012, I was moved by the stories I heard first hand from former child soldiers, women with AIDS and children orphaned or abandoned. I knew I had to do something to support and raise awareness for these people, but I had no idea how or where to start.
Upon returning home, I wore a necklace I had purchased that was made by the women of Watoto. Everywhere I went I got compliments on it and people asking how they could get their own. I knew someone coming back from Uganda who could bring some necklaces for me, so I asked on my photography blog if anyone was interested in purchasing a necklace.
Nov. 1, 2011, a friend and myself launched JustOne, an organization that purchases items handmade by vulnerable people worldwide and sells them to offer support. In November, we traveled to Uganda, Kenya and South Africa to purchase items, but also to sit and hear the stories.
We were overwhelmed by the need and by love.
Our goal is two-fold: first, to support the people of Africa financially by selling their gorgeous creations here at home. And secondly, to raise awareness of their needs. Each item is packaged with information about the people who made it. Home parties allow people to see the photos and hear the stories. And we ask people who purchase from JustOne to share the story as they’re complimented on their unique jewelry.
As 2012 drew to a close I stood in awe, looking at how a simple four-word prayer changed my life. A photo of a young cancer patient in Canada led me to Africa, which led me to starting a business to support vulnerable people long term.
As 2013 begins to unfold, I encourage you to pray what is on your heart without knowing how God will answer; just knowing God will answer!
Dear SheLoves sisters, we’d love to hear:
- What four-word prayer is on your heart to pray: “Use my __________, Lord.”
- When have you taken a leap of faith and trusted God will answer?
- How did that prayer change your life?
Krista loves to laugh. Enjoys board games (Scrabble anyone?). Can’t get enough of Modern Family. Dreamer. Jane Austen fan. Smitten with my college sweetheart (married 16 years). Frequently offer my voice to Barbie and My Little Ponies (mom of two young girls). Quirky. Tells stories with her camera. Sells jewelry to change the world. Lover of life.
All images by Krista Jefferson.