Missions in the media
Ted Rurup demonstrates how missions and a career in directing, filming and producing can coincide.
by MCKENZIE VAN LOH | Web Editor
Ted Rurup began his career with On Field Media in the mid-2000s by directing and producing short films for African Inland Mission. These films are shown around the world with the goal of changing hearts and minds of people who watch them as well as to report on what God has been doing for the churches of Africa. One of the largest films, The Distant Boat, was produced to motivate the African church to pursue a life of missions.
Can you tell me about how you got to where you are today with Africa Inland Mission?
“I started as a pilot, flying a Cessna 206 in a rural flight program on a volcano in Northern Kenya with AIM AIR. After six years we stopped flying and started AIM’s On Field Media department in Nairobi, Kenya. We then did media production in Africa for the next seven years. In 2013, we returned home to care for aging parents, and took on a Mobilizer position with AIM.”
“There is simply not any other movie like this in existence.”
How did you see The Distant Boat impact the African church?
“The impact of the movie is still in its beginning stages. When we launched the movie, in a large church with 300 Kenyan pastors attending, the response was overwhelming, saying that all of the excuses the churches use were addressed in the movie. There is simply not any other movie like this in existence. Not only was the movie intended to inspire Africans to go into missions, a big part of the storyline in the movie was about the church realizing its need to support and not discourage those inspired to engage. We’ve had pastors from Nigeria who’ve seen the movie on the in-flight entertainment systems of Ethiopian Air and have contacted us to distribute the movie there.”
“Jesus was a storyteller, and it is only natural for not only the work of missions to involve storytelling, but to produce incredible stories that can inspire others.”
What advice would you give somebody who is interested in combining missions with telling people’s stories?
“Missions and storytelling have always been inherently linked, for the gospel itself is a story of good news! Jesus was a storyteller, and it is only natural for not only the work of missions to involve storytelling, but to produce incredible stories that can inspire others. The work of capturing these stories is hugely fulfilling, and can be done in a variety of different contexts. My advice is that this is a rich and diverse field, and excellence in storytelling can plug you in to the very front line of the Great Commission and the Kingdom of God. Focus on excellence and go for it.”
Ted Rurup had a unique role working for Africa Inland Mission that is intriguing. His job consisted of two parts: a filming portion and an editing portion. The team would go on a few-week trip to complete the filming, and then return home to edit. I expected his job would have involved more time filming, but instead it involved more time editing footage. Even though working at a desk does not sound appealing, I was encouraged to hear about the outcome of the films.
At the end of the interview, Ted prayed for me and the path God has been leading me down. I found it inspiring to find someone whose career is a mix of media production and missions. I have an understanding that this sort of job is rare but necessary for the hurting world around us.
This interview has been edited and condensed.