Old and New Media Partner for Compelling Congo Story

By Stan Friedman

CHICAGO, IL (January 18, 2013) – The new children’s video for Covenant Kids Congo powered by World Vision combines the use of modern technology and a familiar, but older medium – the stalwart Sunday school flannel graph.

“We wanted to do something special for kids,” says Joshua Havens, manager of the Media Center of the Evangelical Covenant Church. “We began to think what can we do with our software that could make this (Congo story) come alive for kids.”

Havens and Luke Johnson, digital media producer, considered multiple options that included flip books before striking upon the flannel graph idea.

After considering flip books, they were struck with the flannel graph idea. “It also kept the expense down,” Havens said. “Stewardship really came into this.”

Havens and Johnson also hope the video will inspire local congregations to make use of affordable resources to further their own creative projects. The video can be downloaded or streamed. A limited number of DVDs are available for churches that lack the technological capability to play videos from the web. To request a DVD, email Peter Cisneros, manager of Covenant Kids Congo.

The pair built the presentation based on the World Vision “How a Community is Transformed” tri-fold brochure that includes a pictorial narrative illustrating what happens in a community when life-altering resources are made available.

Pairs of hands are in constant motion as they place and remove pieces from the board (actually a flat-screen TV). The 12-year-old daughter of Reesheda Washington, Covenant Kids Congo project director, narrates the story and also helps move the pieces.

“We wanted kids involved in the process,” says Havens.

The process took about three weeks. World Vision already had scalable graphics of each piece. Johnson spent a day printing them on heavy paper and cutting them out.

Former elementary school teacher Kim Crawford adapted the brochure’s text for the video in a way that kids can better understand. “She took all the concepts and made them very concrete,” says Havens.

Crawford also brought her expertise as the associate director of Mission Mobilization and Connection for the Department of World Mission.

Music from The Music Bed website backs up the story-telling. The site hosts compositions of independent artists. “It’s a great site,” says Havens. “The music is royalty-free, so it doesn’t cost as much.”

The filming actually went quickly. “We rehearsed for about half an hour, and the filming took less than two hours.”

Using the flannel graph idea brought back memories for Havens, who recalled his own childhood education in the church. “It’s a shockingly effective way to communicate,” he says.

He’s not surprised that the flannel graph, once thought as too old-school, is coming back. Especially for young adults, “Everything old is new again.”

Covenant Kids Congo (CKC) is the historic undertaking by the Evangelical Covenant Church, World Vision U.S., World Vision Congo, and the Congo Covenant Church to focus millions of dollars in Gemena, Democratic Republic of Congo. The funding will enable a holistic ministry that will provide water, health and hygiene, food and agriculture, education and literacy, and economic development.

Covenanters that include children’s groups already have sponsored more than 3,000 Congolese children since the project had its official kickoff last October. Organizers hope to see sponsorships increase another 3,000 by this October.

Click here to download the video.

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