The story within - Pete bergren
The road of dreams
I have dreamt a lot of dreams over the years. Some dreams I have given up on and some dreams that have really captured the deep longings of my heart, I have been chipping away at for quite awhile now. I have had dreams that you have when you're younger like being a doctor or a professional football player. Those dreams were just more ideas, but then there are those dreams that have lasted because someone (aka God the Father) has dreamt these dreams for me even before I was born (Jeremiah 1). God knows that those dreams don't just have to be ideas, but when we partner with Him, He brings those things into reality (Matthew 19:26).
God has put in my heart the dream to be a missionary from the age of 17 and from then on, I have been set on doing just that. I have always known that that's what He's wanted me to do. I just haven't known how to do it or the tangible steps to take. Ever since then I have been working and going to mission schools because I thought that there was only one way to fulfill the purpose God has for me. As I have been growing up, maturing and dreaming, God dropped in my lap a gift that would become the centrepiece of all His dreams that He put in my heart. In 2011, after awhile of going on these mission trips and doing mission and not getting anywhere, I found photography or maybe it found me.
The gift and the pursuer
Over the years I have had experiences that have made me doubt God's love and my self worth. I won't go into details, but generally those experiences had to do with being rejected. So growing up I have had this view of God that He's a God of rejection and judgement rather than inviting and freeing. Overall, my view of God has made it hard for me to receive God's love. So, in August of 2011, I took a camping trip by myself to the Keweenaw Peninsula in Michigan's upper peninsula and that's when God made His love known and real to me. I had received a gift card to get a camera for my birthday in July and I decided to just take pictures for 4 whole days up in the Keweenaw. It was a trip to remember! I took pictures of everything from waterfalls to the rocky shores of Lake Superior, from lighthouses to flowers and plants. The nature was amazing, but what was even more amazing was God speaking His love to me. Throughout those 4 days I had a real strong sense that in the midst of my sin, in the midst of my junk, that God is always pursuing me and pouring out His love and grace. When I watched the sun go down on Lake Superior or took in the colors of a beautiful flower, I sensed God saying, "I love you!" I still doubt God's love sometimes, but He always brings me back to this experience and lets me know that this was a stake in the ground and not just a temporary thing and His love will never leave me and He's always pursuing me. Ever since then, I have loved photography and nature and have never looked back and I always look forward to getting out and breathing the fresh air that nature provides!
The gift that keeps on giving
God has given me a heart for muslims and for Middle Eastern refugees in the last couple years. I have realized that following Jesus means that we actually follow in His footsteps and do what He says like, " love God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." Through watching the Yazidi genocide in 2014 play out and watching the Syrian war being played out, my heart just breaks for the millions of people fleeing their homelands and especially for the children who have tremendous trauma due to seeing their friends and family being bombed. I have decided not to just sit back and do nothing, but to use photography and other gifts God has given me to help heal the children who have felt the effects of the war. God has used photography as a healing tool for me emotionally and He can use that for the refugee children as well. I went to Jordan in September of 2016 on a mission trip to talk to and pray for refugees from Iraq and Syria first hand and soon hope to go back to Jordan to create a photography therapy program to bring healing to children's hearts and minds because of the war.
So, all in all, God revealed His love for me and pursuit of me through photography and nature and now I want to give that back to Him by doing the same for others.