“No way!” thought Samppa Muchenagumbo, an 11-year old Adventist student at St. Thomas Moore Catholic School in Blaydon, England.
It was an ordinary day that changed when his Religious Education teacher announced that the class would watch a short video. The teacher, himself an atheist, wanted his pupils to use the ideas in the video to expand their worldview.
Muchenagumbo often struggled with some of the ideas presented in class that conflicted with his beliefs and prepared himself. The teacher then explained that he found ‘Holy Island and Aidan’ from the Lineage Journey series on Youtube. Muchenagumbo wondered if he had heard right.
As the video played, Muchenagumbo could barely stop himself from blurting out, “I know the speaker on that video! He’s Adam Ramdin, a pastor at my church!”
Ramdin is the North England Conference youth director based in Nottingham, England. He and Clive Coutet, an Adventist filmmaker, have a burden to create educational resources that delve into Adventism’s spiritual heritage and show the connection between the past and the present.
They and their team have spent several years developing the Lineage Journey. This video series explores the often-little-known connections and backstories in the development of the Seventh-day Adventist Church as well as the growth of Christianity itself.
While majoring in film & video production at the University of West London, Coutet noted a lack of modern-day resources available to young people on Christian and Adventist church history.
“I’m a creative and passionate about digital evangelism through the gifts God has given me,” shared Coutet. “Whilst I was reading The Great Controversy,I really wanted to visualize some of the places. I struggled to find quality materials on these topics and felt the burden to bring some of this amazing history to life. The spark was lit in my mind and I guess you can say that the rest is history,” he added with a smile.
In July 2016, Coutet and Ramdin, along with their wives and families, toured the British Museum in London. Afterward, Coutet asked Ramdin if he wanted to do some filming in the British Museum and various historic places around London that are mentioned in the Great Controversy.
Ramdin liked the idea and quickly the idea became a project that grew.
God brought the right people at the right time to join the team. At first, the team was small. Coutet’s father, an experienced cameraman and photographer, assisted Coutet with filming. Coutet’s friend Ashley Bloom, a professional photographer, agreed to photograph the sites they filmed.
For Ashley, it was also an opportunity to combine two of his greatest interests: ministry and history. “I have always been passionate about utilizing media to educate and minister to people. And as someone who is deeply interested in the history of our church, I felt very privileged to have a chance to work on this project,” he said.
On the second trip, Jasper Iturriaga, a videographer and photographer from the Philippines, joined as the second cameraman – even though he had never met anyone else on the team. Instead of strangers, he found a media family who shared his ministry vision.
Iturriaga explained, “It has always been my passion to visualize the history of the church as a way of reaching young people in the most relevant and engaging way. I believe that by providing them with resources they would actually watch, vital questions like who we are as a church could be answered.”
Later on, Anton Stewart volunteered his audio recording and social media expertise. “Working on the episodes and promotion has shown me how much of a void exists for content such as this in our church,” remarked Steward. He now serves as head of Social Media and Audio to help fill that void.
Others sought out Coutet and Ramdin as fans who became invested in the series and wanted to help in any way possible. Such was Sukeshinie Goonatilleke’s experience. “I heard about Lineage from a friend of mine. She recommended that I watch it because I love history,” she commented.
“Just before I watched the video, I had prayed for God to open a new ministry avenue, something that would give me an opportunity to engage in ministry in a different way and that would allow me to use different gifts in service. When I saw Lineage, I really resonated with the vision of the project. I related to the idea of using history and The Great Controversy as an educational tool and means of drawing people to have spiritual and meaningful conversations,” she recalled.
Inspired by the project, she offered to write a website article. Soon she was writing articles, blogs and regular posts. She now serves as the website content manager.
Rounding out the team are Assistant Editor Charlene Coutet, Head of Translations and Assistant Producer Aiko Ramdin, and Behind the Scenes Producer Eden Matheson.
Everyone on the team is a volunteer and has sacrificed much to produce what has been done thus far. This level of commitment was needed in order to launch the project and continues today. Perhaps this is one of the many reasons the team is so appreciative of the feedback they receive about the series.
“When the first video was released, we didn’t expect the response,” noted Coutet. “On Facebook the video was shared hundreds of times, all over the world. Some of the feedback mentioned that they appreciated the short format, the high-quality editing and production and the appeal at the end.
One of our earliest comments on Youtube came from a European blogger who wrote, ‘I don’t care about religion, but this is interesting to watch!’ It wasn’t long before people started to contact us and ask if they could translate the videos either with subtitles or with dubbing,” he added.
Season 1 focused on the story of Christianity from the time of Constantine through to the end of the 1700’s as the Reformation waned. “We followed a chronological journey showing how the truths of the Reformation were slowly rediscovered and the sacrifice and dedication of the reformers,” explained Ramdin.
He continued, “The idea behind season 2 was to show that Seventh-day Adventism didn’t form in a vacuum but rather it was a continuation of the discovery of truth that had begun in the Reformation. As a church we stand on the shoulders not just of our own pioneers who forged a new movement but also the reformers who stood for God in an age when it was not popular or expedient to be a Bible-believing Christian. We wanted to show this connection between the Adventist church and the Reformation.”
While their audience ranges from children under the age of 10 to grandparents, the core group among their 3,000,000+ online views defies marketing assumptions.
“Our largest demographic of viewers on Facebook and Instagram is between the ages of 18-35 which is quite extraordinary,” noted Ramdin. “Some anecdotally say that young people are not interested in the past, but these figures strongly disprove that. People do want to know where they come from and what their spiritual lineage is.”
“In addition, the largest demographic of those who engage with the Facebook and Instagram pages are young males between the ages of 13-17, once again disproving a common societal myth that history or religion is not interesting to the younger population,” he concluded.
Because each video is short and engaging, the series is a resource for both the Adventist church and secular audiences. Pathfinders, youth groups and Adventist schools use the videos as history and religion supplements. Churches find that the short length makes the videos ideal for a Bible study, small group or entire congregation.
As shown in Muchenagumbo’s experience, non-Christian institutions and individuals are utilizing them as well. The potential to reach the unreached is unknown at this point, but the feedback is exciting.
Whenever Coutet and Ramdin host a booth at an Adventist conference, people like Muchenagambo share the many unexpected ways God has used Lineage Journey. Recently, an Adventist involved in prison ministry shared how the series is used in small groups and Bible studies to great effect. According to the user, the series keeps the prisoners’ interest in ways that other resources haven’t.
Now the team is looking beyond their original idea. “In the future we plan to film another series that will cover the Old and New Testaments while telling the story of God’s people and the battle between good and evil through time,” shared Ramdin. “This will involve filming in the Middle East and we envision that it will excite even greater interest in the Bible.”