Fishers of Men or Watchers of the Aquarium?

From The Open Word by Pastor Michael Temple

A video version of the NPR radio show “This American Life” captured the story of a prize-winning photojournalist. At one point he soberly confessed that many photojournalists remain spectators as they observe and record the misfortunes of others. Then he told the interviewer a disturbing story about an incident in which he continued snapping pictures as a woman eventually drowned.

He says, “I was sent out on an assignment from when I was working for the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune. They wanted pictures [of a coastal storm], so I went out to nearby Plum Island. [I] walked out on the beach, and there was this one figure standing by the ocean looking out.”

The video then scans to a photo that shows a lone woman standing on the shore’s edge with waves crashing in front of her. He continues, “She was drinking a beer …. A split second after this picture was taken, a wave came in, hit the embankment below her feet, knocked the sand out, and she went sliding into the water.”

The video scans to a second photo that shows the woman lying in the shallow water after the wave had retreated.

Then he says, “I was probably at least 50 feet away from her, shooting with a telephoto lens. She was in the water either in shock or drunk or whatever. I thought about, okay, am I going to make a rescue? I already got the shot I need.”

The video turns to a third photo that shows two men approaching the woman, who has her hand outstretched.

“I turned around, and within 100 feet of me there was a lifeguard. So I continued to photograph the sequence. There was someone who was with the lifeguard who got there first. He rushed to her. [He] was ready to reach out and grab her and pull her to safety. But at the last second something stopped him.”

The next photo pictures the two men backing off as a large wave prepares to crash on top of the helpless woman.

The photojournalist finishes the story: “The wave looked to me like it was 20 feet high. Within seconds after this photograph was taken, she was covered by the wave. I realized that she was gone. The sequence of pictures received quite a bit of attention, and a lot of criticism came into the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune about their photographer, who watched someone drown in the ocean while he just continued to take pictures.”

Later in the interview he admits that he could have made a difference, but instead he chose to observe and take pictures. He now only takes “easy and fun” pictures because they are less of a burden.

My stomach tightened as I contemplated the spiritual ramifications of this video, and wondered to myself how many times Christianity has been a “spectator sport” for me. It’s a very simple process to go to church week after week; to show up and go through the motions of attending services and studies about the doctrines of the scriptures. It’s quite a different scenario however, to actually go out into the world and participate in helping to lead someone to Jesus; to be a “fishers of men,” rather than a “watchers of the aquarium.”


chitsu-3Asian Aid has determined to be “fishers of men” and we are fortunate you have partnered with us. Without your help we wouldn’t be able to accomplish a thing. Children, of all ages, are being given the chance to know Jesus, because of you.

Unlike the photojournalist you have put down your camera and have reached out your hand to snatch these children from the impending wave of destruction. Then again, when you look into their eyes, how could you do otherwise?

IMG_0070As you contemplate your year-end giving, I invite you to remember the ministry of Asian Aid… as we rescue children and lead them to Christ. If you have not completed your giving to these children through Asian Aid, in 2016, I invite you to do so now.

Gifts can be given on our website – if you prefer you can call us at (866) 569-7933.

Checks can be sent to: Asian Aid, USA

PO Box 2258

Collegedale, TN 37315

To receive a 2016 tax receipt, credit cards must be processed by midnight, December 31, 2016. All letters containing checks must be postmarked by this date as well.

Merry Christmas and thank you for sending your life saving gift, today!


I remain as always – In Christ’s service,

Robert W. Raney
Vice President for Donor Relations

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