Meet Valeri and Valentina Seleznev—two of the most amazing, godly people I have ever had the honor to get to know. They are the In Touch Ministries employees selected as the March 2015 Faces of In Touch special feature, and I was blessed to be able to sit down with them to hear their story and to share it with our readers. I knew the rough outline from talking to folks around the ministry, but when the Seleznevs filled in all the blanks, I just sat with my mouth hanging open. Talk about guts!
Valeri Seleznevis a man you can’t help but look up to—oftentimes because, as the senior maintenance technician at In Touch Ministries, he’s perched atop a ladder, changing a light bulb or repairing HVAC fixtures. But no matter what he’s working on, Valeri never fails to wave or say hello to passersby. His warm smile and openness make it hard to imagine who he was 20 years ago—an official in the Communist party who was labeled as disloyal to the Soviet Union. Eventually, he knew it was no longer safe to stay in his home country. And so he fled to the West with his wife Valentina, unsure of what awaited them in a new land.
A few weeks after the Seleznevs learned they were under suspicion, they boarded a plane in Moscow for a 10-hour flight to New York City. And they were up in the air—both literally and figuratively—every minute of it. Their paperwork had been acquired through back channels, and they weren’t sure if it was even valid. When they landed, the couple would either be allowed to enter the United States or be forced back to the country they loved but had to flee….
One of the many wonderful things about my job is the fact that I get to work with several hundred very passionate, talented people. There are so many wonderful folks at In Touch, so many wonderful stories, that we decided to make it a running special feature called “The Faces of In Touch.” Gary Longenecker, our Director of Photography, was the first person to grace the pages of our magazine, and it was my honor to interview and write about him.
Gary Longenecker stands triumphantly in the doorway, a battered rake in his hands and a mischievous glint in his blue eyes. Everything had been set—the subject in place, video and audio crews ready to record—but Longenecker hesitated. To him, there was something wrong with the look of the scene.
When you’re working on location, anything and everything can happen. Sunlight that shone perfectly through a window one minute can spoil a shot the next. That’s where creativity comes in—something Longenecker, In Touch Ministries’ Director of Photography, has in ample supply. He straps the rake to a hodgepodge of grip equipment, adjusts the angle, and the light filters through it, creating a pleasing shadow on what had previously been a blank wall.
I was honored to share the story of Liberty Baptist Church, a small congregation in Fulton, Kentucky, in the June 2014 issue of In Touch magazine. This amazing group of generous people gave enough money to send ten Messengers in Ticuna (a language spoken only by people groups in the Amazon) into the mission field. And their gift has yielded tremendous results in the lives of people they may never meet this side of heaven.
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Here’s the newest multi-author article I was privileged to play a part in writing for In Touch Magazine! May’s focus is on the church as the body of Christ, and this piece is meant to be a list to help folks who are looking to join one. Dear reader, I’ll give you one guess as to which piece is mine. 🙂 If you enjoy this, please leave feedback here and on our homepage. Also, you can get your own free copy of our magazine each month by visiting our subscription page.