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.

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)


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.

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.

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

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.

Significance in the Marketplace

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.

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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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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