Promoting Mission from a Distance - Haiti

Luke Gartner (Redwood Falls, Minnesota, USA)

Archived discussion

About the presenter

Luke Gartner lives in Redwood Falls, Minnesota, and is a senior at Minnesota Valley Lutheran High School. He has a passion for missions, went to Mahahual, Mexico, last summer to teach Bible stories to children, and plans on going to Martin Luther College to major in History and minor in Spanish.

In November of 2016 we were in our regular 6th hour class of Desktop Publishing when Mr. Jaspersen, our teacher, starts to tell us about his new GoPro.

The GoPro

Christian (Chip) immediately starts to bring up the idea of buying a GoPro for our Desktop Publishing class. Mr. J. told us all about the amazing world of Thrivent Action grants. He told us that if we had a good cause and wrote a good proposal Thrivent would give us $250 to make our project happen. So in no time Chip was writing up a request. It wasn't long after that Chip's request was approved. Now we had just less than three months to do something great with the GoPro to prove to Thrivent that we deserved it. Luke's part in this project was handling all of the communication. He was more or less in charge of all things WELS communication for our class, so this job seemed fitting. He was also working with our 2nd semester World Mission project, the orphanages in Haiti . We decided that we wanted to send the GoPro to Haiti to get footage of the orphanages. Luke emailed the missionary that spends the most time there, Terry Schultz, to see if he would take the GoPro on his next visit. Terry Schultz informed us that he was already in Haiti and that there was no way that he could take the GoPro. Hope seemed somewhat lost until Luke discovered a lady who has been to Haiti several times as part of the WELS program. Her name was Linda Petersen. Linda saved our project. Luke emailed her and she loved the idea from the start and on Christmas day Chip mailed Linda the GoPro. For the next week we had no idea what to expect. We had never met this lady. We had given her instructions on how to use the camera but something can always go wrong. We were so nervous that whole week until Chip got the GoPro back some two weeks later. When Chip plugged the camera in, we could see the amazing footage that Linda got. She explained the mission well, she talked and interviewed kids, and she even got a video of the children singing "This is the Day the Lord Has Made" in English.

Now we had to take this raw footage and turn it into an informational documentary. We decided to bring Keegan into the project because of his talents with video editing. So Chip and Keegan worked long hours, day and night, while Luke looked for places that they could send the video in hopes of getting the word out about Haiti and the help that they need. He found a couple of places, one being Martin Luther College and the other being the Speechless Film Festival hosted by Bethany Lutheran College. Though we were too late to get the film entered in for judging, the people that ran the festival showed great interest in our project and were kind enough to give us our own showing time. This film festival set a precedent for the Desktop Publishing class and was a highlight of our year. This project helped our school raise funds for Haiti. We had raised more money than any other year in the past. We believed that without the video Haiti was seen as some far off land rather than our brothers and sisters in Christ in need of our help. When you see the faces of the children and you hear them sing, the Lord works in us. He instills in us a heart of love and a heart of compassion which solidifies itself in our donations to these children in Haiti. Though we, at Minnesota Valley Lutheran, have a new mission this year we continue to keep Haiti in our prayers especially with the recent Hurricane that just went through.

To watch the video click here.

Teacher Jason Jaspersen, Luke Gartner, Keegan Jeffers, and Chip Hennig at Bethany Lutheran College's Speechless Film Festival

Luke Gartner lives in Redwood Falls, Minnesota, and is a senior at Minnesota Valley Lutheran High School. He has a passion for missions, went to Mahahual, Mexico, last summer to teach Bible stories to children, and plans on going to Martin Luther College to major in History and minor in Spanish.

Keegan Jeffers, from Mankato, Minnesota, a senior at MVL, has made several videos for his school and in the future wants to go into media arts.

Christian Hennig (Chip) was born in Orange California, and since 7th grade has lived in New Ulm, Minnesota, where his father teaches at Martin Luther College. He is a senior at Minnesota Valley Lutheran High School, and plans a future in technology and media publication.

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Julia Wagenknecht (MLP Missionary Wife) 2017-10-22 5:18:40pm
Hi Luke,
I enjoyed viewing your GoPro video on the work in Haiti. Great to see and hear your group's enthusiam for sharing Jesus with souls in Haiti. It was great to see some dear friends, Pastor Rona Abram and Missionary Terry Schulz. May God bless your efforts wherever he leads you!
Luke Gartner (MVL) 2017-10-30 9:11:32am
Thank you for visiting our presentation, we really had fun doing it and working with such great people as Pastor Abram and missionary Schultz.
Chris, Chase, Javion (WLC) 2017-10-24 11:34:27pm
Hello Luke,
Your GoPro video is a very helpful video to the eyes of society. Haiti is home to my family. What you are doing to promote such a positive cause is very admirable. Best of luck on your mission.
Luke Gartner (MVL) 2017-10-30 9:12:59am
Thank you for your comment and for your support. May God bless your family in Haiti, and may he keep them safe.
Jessa, Reese, Eric (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2017-10-27 11:35:49pm
Hi Luke,
Wow, what a wonderful video! You and your team did an excellent job with this. I commend you all for your hard work; a lot of people don't have the ambition or drive to come up with a creative service leader project like this and carry through with it. I was especially taken by your comment regarding people viewing Haiti as "some far off land rather than our brothers and sisters in Christ in need of our help." I would definitely agree to that; I find that ignorance and apathy are two of the most prevalent inhibitors of action. If something is not occurring right in front of one's face, then it is irrelevant and unimportant to them, as it is foreign and unknown. This is why informing the public about the happenings in the world is essential for providing assistance to people and places that need it, as well as spreading the Word of the Lord. And you're right, technology like this is an important means by which to accomplish this! In what other ways did technology help you with your project?
Luke Gartner 2017-10-30 9:09:40am
Thank you for your comment. Technology was used all throughout the process. It was used with the GoPro, the editting software, and often unnoticed in the contacting of each other. All three of us live in different cities, so we had to make sure everyone was caught up and on board. Whether it was on a Snapchat group chat or if it was on google hangouts we were all keeping each other up to date on what was happening.
Elyse Kipfer (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2017-11-01 2:39:01pm
I think that is amazing how God works. Overcoming the different challenges were incredible on everyone's part, but shows me how God can overcome anything. I hope that each of you who have been God's workers will continue to see the fruits from your labor for years to come as the missionary work grows. I hope that you will all be able to hear how this has impacted the particular children living in Haiti through writing or another video. I wonder how many believers are being added to the Christian church? God bless you mission work locally and internationally.
Luke Gartner (MVL) 2017-11-01 8:25:52pm
Thank you for your comment and for your support. It it very rewarding to watch the Branch Lutheran Schools grow in Haiti, though we are not the reason they are where they are at, we are happy to see that they are growing. Thank you again.
Elyse Kipfer (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2017-11-06 2:28:03pm
Dear Mr. Gartner:

I want to say that I am very impressed by your thoughtful comments to the responses from the public. It might not mean much coming from a college student, but I can only imagine the respect you have from others to keep on using your time to respond to the different comments. I am also glad to read how rewarding it is to watch the Branch Lutheran Schools grow. God bless you and your colleagues.
Anna Barkholtz (Martin Luther College) 2017-11-01 3:20:04pm
Dear Mr. Luke Gartner,

This is such a creative and wonderful idea for outreach - especially for a student project! Your contribution to the conference was a fascinating read and I’m sure it’s going to be incredibly influential in the lives of so many others. Fantastic work!

While reading over the logistics of your project, I really appreciated the segment where you talked about wanting to get the word out. You could have just used the information you received from Mrs. Peterson to make the film for your school, but you instead searched out ways to get your video out there, namely at Martin Luther College and the Bethany Lutheran College Speechless Film Festival. This was an extremely admirable effort and I’m excited to see what you and your friends can do with your talents in the future!

After reading your quick promotion and viewing your video, I was reminded of the WELS Connection videos that our congregations show to inform us of where our donations to church are going. Your video did, essentially, the same exact thing for your high school. Do you think that our church’s mission efforts could benefit from trying to create more videos like this and getting them into venues like you and your friends? Places outside of the churches themselves? How do you think we could go about that?

You should be extremely proud of your accomplishments, all of you have such good hearts. Thank you, again, for your contribution!
Luke Gartner (MVL) 2017-11-01 8:23:01pm
I definitely think that videos like this are the future of church mission outreach. One of the largest problems with getting people to donate is giving them a good enough reason. By creating a video with the faces of the people you are donating to gives the donor a face for their donation. And about venues like us, We have entertained the idea of doing other churches projects for them, but it also comes down to the fact that we are still in high school.

I also believe that this project has a more worldy use too. I think that a person could post a video like this in a secular setting and gain traction from anyone who would like to help some children in need. That then becomes a wonderful mission opportunity.

I think that a church could do this same project by applying for a thrivent action grant, buy a durable camera, contact a missionary and ask for their help, edit your footage, and watch your mission form. These are just the steps that we followed. There are countless other ways to do mission work.

Grace (Martin Luther College) 2017-11-02 3:17:19am

Luke Gartner,

Wow, thank you for sharing such an inspirational story! I greatly admire how you and your friends were able to utilize your technological resources to aid those in Haiti. This article was a fantastic contribution, and a true joy to read!

I especially loved your closing statement: “We believed that without the video Haiti was seen as some far off land rather than our brothers and sisters in Christ in need of our help. When you see the faces of the children and you hear them sing, the Lord works in us. He instills in us a heart of love and a heart of compassion which solidifies itself in our donations to these children in Haiti.” It is so true that sometimes we seem rather disconnected with missions that are far away, and it takes a more personal experience to draw us into the cause. As I thought about this concept, I realized that I really wish that more people were doing what you did, bring mission work in foreign lands to the forefront of our attentions.

I couldn’t help but wonder: what was Thrivent’s reaction when you showed them what you had accomplished with the GoPro?

Luke Gartner (MVL) 2017-11-02 6:32:57pm
Hello Grace,

Thank you for checking into my presentation and for your kind words. I am not exactly sure what the reaction from the Thrivent team was but the email that they sent us just explained that they were proud of what we did with their money and that they would like to help us again or anyone else interested in this type of project. Thanks again for your comment, God's blessings on the rest of your year.
Cora M. ( Bethany Lutheran College) 2017-11-08 10:24:45pm
I had to work during your showing at the Speechless Film Festival so I was very glad to see it posted here. I loved how your video highlighted ways that we can be of help to our brothers and sisters in Christ from here. Even though I have always wanted to go on a mission trip to Haiti to help out, it's important to know that going there is not the only way to be of service. Thanks for your wonderful video!
Luke Gartner (MVL) 2017-11-13 7:04:22am
Thank you for your help at the festival and for checking in to read this post. I think that mission trips are amazing but sometimes it’s just too difficult to make it to that country on your own. Thanks again for checking in and leaving a comment.
Emily Reitz (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2017-11-12 2:17:23pm
Thank you for your presentation on Missions in Haiti! It's so encouraging to see students with a heart for missions, for spreading the Gospel, and for living your faith! Do you ever plan to go and do missions after high school or college? If so, how much do you anticipate technology will play a role in that work? If not, are you looking to use technology in your life to further share your faith with others around you? God's blessings to you in all of your future endeavors!
Luke Gartner (MVL) 2017-11-13 7:09:24am
I do plan on doing more work with missions after high school. This past summer I was in Mexico, and I wish to go back as soon as I can. I think that technology can always play a part, just maybe not in the same way as this Haiti mission. I would predict something more along the lines of a PowerPoint. Thanks for your comment and for your kind words.
Eric Pascutti (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2017-11-13 12:47:03pm
Hi Luke,

Incredible video put together all around, especially with the footage in Haiti. I admire your drive, passion, and work ethic. Those are three great traits go a long way in life and it definitely shows in your work. I think what you and your friends did with raising money for your school was not only remarkable, but also for a great cause, not to mention you happened to raise more money than any year prior to this. Continue spreading the word of God and being an influence to so many people around you. It just goes to show, anyone can make a difference in this world with the help and faith of God.
Shawna Abbott (WLC) 2017-11-13 3:53:50pm
Beautiful video. Many times I reflected back on the mission trip I did in 2013 to Zambia. Witnessing the poverty in some areas yet how grateful the people were. I think that this is something that will stay with you forever and I am happy that you were able to have this experience as well as the other mission trips you have been on. I pray that you are able to continue growing in your faith and helping others grow in theirs. Blessings to you as you prepare for college and the next chapters of your life.