EM041- How Photographers Can Help Break the Cycle of Poverty with Joshua MacLeodJoshua MacLeod of Picture the Nations is real renaissance man. He runs several non-profit ministries and is using photography to help break the cycle of poverty.

Picture the Nations, his newest ministry, connects photographers with opportunities to use their talents to fight poverty. Photographers from around the world raise their own support to photograph the people of the nations.

While they're there, they give away free high resolution images to the people their photographing. And when they return home, they use those photos to create beautiful coffee table books that they can give to ministries in that nation at cost.

With those books, ministries and missionaries can create an emotional connection between their partners and supporters and the people who are really benefiting in the fight against poverty.

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We’re created in the image of God. And we’re beautiful. Period.

We’re created in the image of God. And we’re beautiful. Period. #missions #photography #poverty Click To Tweet

Life in Ministry

Joshua started Watermelon Ministries in 2004. For 7 years, he functioned as a media missionary, capturing the Kingdom of God on film as a videographer. Now he's transitioned to operating as a full-fledged missions agency. They are equipping thousands to reach millions using videography, photography, and musical instruments.

Key Scripture

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10 ESV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 ESV)

If the initiation of ministry is surrender, the application of ministry is love. Click To Tweet
Love starts from God. I receive love from God and pour to love from God to others. Click To Tweet


Like many of us, most of Joshua's biggest challenges are internal rather than external. In our talk, he shared a time when he was consulting with someone. During their discussion, the person he was talking with stopped him in his tracks with, “You know what your problem is? You don't ask….”


Joshua shared three experiences that have shaped how he's approaching his work with Picture the Nations.

First, early on, he was on a trip to Mongolia. He had the money to go but nothing beyond that to pay bills when he returned but he and his wife believed God was charging him to go. While on a layover he ministered to a businessman he met and when he returned, there was a check waiting for him to cover the expenses that he needed to pay.

We should expect miracles but don’t rely on them. We reap what we sow. Click To Tweet
We should sow into our work and communication. When miracles are necessary, He will provide. Click To Tweet

Second, while he was photographing a woman, she began yelling. When Joshua heard the translation, it stopped him in his tracks. It changed how he approached photography ministry, always asking permission and always focusing on fixing poverty.

Don’t take my picture if you can’t fix my poverty. Click To Tweet

Take our pictures. Show the world how we live.

Finally, on a trip to South Africa, he was asking permission and focusing on loving people and another woman began yelling at him. Her plea was different. She wanted her picture taken so the world would see how she was living.

Now Joshua focuses on those things – asking permission, loving people, and showing the world how people live with the purpose of fighting poverty.

Current Ministry

God puts different passions in everybody. Click To Tweet
We’re created in the image of God. If nothing else, that makes us creative. Click To Tweet

With Picture the Nations, Joshua is able to send photographers all over the world to take photos and give away pictures. When they return, Joshua puts together coffee table books so that missionaries and missions agencies can highlight the glory of God and the beauty of the people in the nations.

See photos from Mongolia.

We’re created in the image of God. And we’re beautiful. Period. Click To Tweet
Jesus is reflected in the faces of His children all over the world. Click To Tweet
The whole ministry is about showing beauty. Click To Tweet

Significance in the Marketplace

The most important thing in any person’s life is surrender Click To Tweet
a community that’s serving together and be part of that community Click To Tweet

Level Up

Joshua reminds us that we don't realize how blessed we are until we encounter the cycle of poverty in the developing world. However, the benefit is that things often cost one-tenth what they would cost in the US. So, one easy way to extend the value of a donation is to give it to a project in the developing world.

Every gift we make multiplies by 10 automatically when we’re serving in areas of great poverty. Click To Tweet

Speed Round


  • God doesn’t have any problems with not telling you much. Mystery is fine.

Best Advice

  • More of an emphasis on kindness.

Personal Success Habit

  • Confession

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper but he who confesses and forsakes them will find mercy (Proverbs 28:13)

Internet Resource

Book Recommendation

Shifts in Society

Joshua set the stage by letting us know how hospitality often works in other countries. He suggested a few things we can do to connect and to check our hearts.

New Place

  • Look for the person of peace and stay with them
  • Be a person of peace for others

Parting Advice

The most important thing is love

  • Do I love God? (if not, no problem; say “I need to love you more, please help me”)
  • Do I love people? (if not, no problem; say “I need to love people more, please help me.”)

Contact Info

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