Liberty Alumni Leverage Their Video Talents For The Great Commission
His first time out of the country, Ryan Portnoy went to the slums of Mexico. He was there to do manual labor, pouring concrete foundations and painting cardboard walls white so families could see any scorpions crawling on the sides of their homes. But when he realized that no one had family portraits, he pulled out his camera, grabbed a translator and walked to each home asking to take their family photos.
That trip in 2011 set the path for Liberty alumni Ryan and his wife Kelly to found The Good Story, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping missionaries through storytelling, in April 2015.
At the time, they had kids and were both working as professional photographers in the wedding and commercial industry. But Ryan and Kelly had always felt a call to do something in the missions field, and Ryan’s trip, followed by a trip the couple took together two years later to the same location, confirmed the pulling on their hearts.
After witnessing two of their best friends go through the process of becoming missionaries and working to raise support, they had a vision of where their place in missions could be.
“We watched our best friends struggle, running themselves ragged,” Kelly said. “They were only 19% funded and needed more support.”
They drew from their talents as graphic designers and photographers to help their friends, offering professional prayer cards, brochures and video footage. In a short amount of time, their friends’ funding increased dramatically.
“Because of the change in communication of information about the mission, we were able to help our friend get 80% funded,” Kelly said.
Kelly and Ryan launched the idea of their nonprofit to the church to see if others would want to help bridge the communication gap that exists for missionaries.
Now, The Good Story offers a plethora of services to the goers — those that God has called to deliver the gospel to the ends of the earth. The Good Story’s services are all centered around supplying those in the mission field what they need to creatively communicate their ministry’s purpose effectively.
“We provide whatever they need, via print or web, so that missionaries are more connected,” Kelly said.
Their mission centers around storytelling because of the way Jesus utilized the power of story.
“Jesus was a storyteller in his ministry, we should follow after that example in how we communicate,” Kelly said.
Team members of The Good Story travel internationally to film documentaries and short support films for missionaries. Through the films, The Good Story sheds light on the stories God is continuing to tell. In 2016, four members of the team filmed a gathering in Hungary for the documentary “We Are Here,” telling the story of the Roma people across Europe that have experienced a recent Christian revival.
“Everyone has a voice, sometimes they just need a microphone,” Kelly said.
The Good Story also helps those in the mission field by holding workshops and coaching, which includes options for newsletter writing, storytelling and social media coaching. The goal of having these sessions is to train missionaries to have the skills necessary to show the world what their ministries do.
“Our main passion is turning missionaries into storytellers through proper forms of communication,” Kelly said.
Because of the financial struggles that many missionaries face, Kelly and Ryan provide all of their services either for free or for a reduced price.
All team members are volunteers who are devoted to giving their skills and time for the Great Commission. Ryan and Kelly are particular to choose people who are talented in communication and who will do the work from their love of Jesus.
A more long-term goal for The Good Story is a full-time staff.
“The organization being a nonprofit is what makes things difficult. All ambassadors to the company are volunteers,” Kelly said. “We need full time graphic designers and videographers. We want to continue to grow staff-wise so that we can serve more people, not to grow for growth’s sake, but to be able to reach more people.”
More information about The Good Story can be found on the organization’s website.
Olivia Hallacker is a Feature Writer.