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Portraits with Passion

Dale Stroud’s photos of NTM’s mission fields open picture windows into tribal life.

One of the hallmarks of New Tribes Mission’s communications is the stunningly beautiful, powerful images of life on the mission field. Great photography doesn’t just happen. NTM partner Dale Stroud has covered the globe visiting NTM missionaries and documenting their work among tribal peoples since 2007, when his photos of an Amazon basin mission trip came to the attention of Macon Hare, NTM director of communications. Macon showed the images to a meeting of NTM field directors and the invitations began coming, requesting that Dale visit their works in remote corners of the globe.

In a recent interview, Dale Stroud shared a few thoughts with Partner to Partner about his unique relationship with NTM.

As a photographer, what are some of the challenges you encounter when working among tribal peoples in remote areas?

Well, just getting to some the tribes can be a logistical challenge — and often brings an elevated level of risk. Aircraft weight restrictions and limited space for equipment, two or three hour canoe rides, balancing heavy gear on the back of motorcycles — to say nothing of crazy cab drivers! But it comes with the territory, so if you just roll with the experiences it adds color to the narrative.

Tribal people are still just people. When you feel the emotion of the image, you feel the light, the shot is about to happen — but then you get that over- whelming burst of negative energy from nothing more than a fleeting expression from someone off-camera. The hardest part is to pull the camera down, keep my own emotions in check and quickly rectify the situation before moving on. So the biggest challenge for me is knowing when to put the camera away. I’m in the village for only a few days, but the missionaries are there, in many cases, for a lifetime. I don’t want my selfish actions to jeopardize years of trust.

What has been the most memorable trip you have taken on behalf of NTM?

I don’t think I can place them into a “most memorable” category. There’s always a handful of missionaries you just really connect with, tribal people you meet and within a few minutes you feel like you’ve known them all your life, and countries where you stand there and say, “ Wow, how did a pastor’s kid from the cornfields of Illinois get here?” I can’t say, “Wow, that was really cool!” to any one in particular. They’re all special.

“I’m in the village for only a few days, but the missionaries are there, in many cases, for a lifetime.””
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What are your impressions of the NTM missionaries you have encountered across the globe?

The phrase “birds of a feather flock together” comes to mind. Police officers have a certain persona as do accoun- tants, lawyers or any trained field. Missionaries are no different. However, there is something uniquely different about the NTM missionary. It takes a special gift to give up every comfort of life and move into a difficult tribal situation. These missionaries are, truly, a special breed. It’s really hard to talk about these guys and tell their stories without tearing up. They’re all heroes of mine and I am humbled and blessed to be in their presence.

Why do you believe NTM is a good investment for partners who want to make an impact for Christ?

Christ said at the Ascension “... you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

The “ends of the earth” is where NTM’s work begins. As Americans we want the biggest bang for our buck, we want the best deal going, we want the most friends on Facebook and we want our name associated with numerical greatness and productivity.

In the parable of the lost sheep (Luke 15), the Shepherd went looking for the single lost lamb. NTM is searching the mountains, the plains and the jungles, searching the ends of the earth for those lost little tribes. NTM missionaries have dedicated their lives to living among tribal peoples that are few in numbers and still live in darkness. Jesus’ Great Commission never categorized people groups; He just said, “Go.” When we stand before Christ, NTM and their missionaries will be standing with a great number of tribal brothers and sisters because of their obedience.

Investing in NTM is not just an investment in an organization, but in the lives of missionaries willing to do the heavy lifting under some of the most difficult conditions for the sole purpose of bringing the Light of the Gospel into some of the darkest tribes. My pastor always says, “Someone is waiting on the other side of your obedience.”

Do you have a favorite image you have recorded that stands out against the others?

Yeah, there is always a handful of images and stories that tug your heart- strings. But for the most part I try not to get wrapped up too much in the images I produce. I’ve had the opportunity to work on movie sets, photograph dramatic performances and television programs. People always comment on how good the images look. However, I wasn’t the lighting designer. I wasn’t the makeup and costume designer. I didn’t design the set nor did I tell the actors where to stand or what emotion to evoke. I just showed up, pulled out my camera and took the picture. To take all the credit for the images that I had so little to do with would be intellectually dishonest. The same can be said for what I do in the field. I’m just there to document the beauty and dignity of the image of God. To be honest, I’m just the brush in the hand of the Artist. To quote Jason Swanson, “They’re His people, it’s His Work.”

NTM Opens Estate & Gift Design Center Planned Giving to Achieve Your Goals

Leaving a legacy is something every couple dreams about.

“How do we provide for our family, but still accomplish what we’d like to do for God’s Kingdom?” is a common question, even for young couples as they think about the future.

The answers to that question are a bit easier with the establishment of the NTM Estate and Gift Design Center, says Luke Griffin, the service’s recently named director. Planned giving options used to be the domain of the wealthy, but today’s economic challenges have made it an increasingly popular option for everyone to consider.

“We’re pleased to offer gift planning services to NTM partners,” said Griffin in a recent interview. “And we have a variety of tools available to help those who are interested to discover the types of options that may help them achieve their goals.”

Those tools can be found at, a special area of the New Tribes Mission website that is designed to help you learn about the many ways planned giving can benefit both you and the tribal peoples across the globe who need to hear about the Gospel. This easy-to-navigate site can help you learn what types of assets make the best planned gifts, as well as how to give in ways that provide tax benefits and even income for life! There’s also a handy guide to preparing your will — the most basic component of creating a legacy plan.

“My hope is that everyone will take advantage of these easy and free planning tools,” says Griffin. “The opportunity to leverage the resources God has given each one of us just makes sense — and enables us to do so much more for His Kingdom.”

POSTED ON Jan 01, 2012

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