Teachers alike have an understanding that storytelling is one of the most powerful tools used in a classroom. As I finished my first nine-week student teach placement in 4th grade, I was frequently reminded that stories always captivate, always resonate, and always inspire. So when you’re stuck, share a story – whether fact or fiction.
A specific genre of stories that I love to listen to are the personal narratives of people I encounter in daily life. Someone’s story is a looking-glass into their soul, an intimate gaze upon their humanity, what drives them, and what keeps them going through life.
I have met some of the most remarkable people while a student at Nyack, and it would be a waste if I kept their stories to myself. So for the next few posts, I will be casting a spotlight on students, current and graduate, that have made the most of their time at Nyack and are using their place in the world, casually put, to shake things up.
For this first post, I interviewed a recent Youth and Family Studies graduate named Tyrone Taylor. While the stereotype on campus is that all YFS majors are future ministry workers, Tyrone’s story and gifts guide his life in a different direction. His story is worth sharing. At the ripe age of 25, he is what I like to call a “World Changer of Nyack.”
You won’t find Tyrone in church traditionally writing sermons or counseling its members, you’ll find him on city streets and townhalls snapping photos – and impressive ones at that (every shot in this feature is his original work).
When asked about his passion in life, he quickly identified himself as a “photographer and videographer who desires to impact the culture through the arts.”
“I desire to do this by creating photos and videos that encourage introspection. I choose this method because I’m impacted by art that displays truth and I believe that the art I present is important in this current age where subjectivity is prioritized over objectivity.”
Quite a compelling and relevant mindset, wouldn’t you say?
When asked how Nyack has prepared him for what’s ahead, Tyrone wrote this:
“Nyack has broadened my understanding of ministry. The excellent Youth and Family Studies program that Nyack provides has helped me to pay attention to how I minister to others and has equipped me with skills such as team building, public speaking, and developing a proper theology.”
“My current focus in life is to be used by God as a force that impacts culture for the glory of God. Since my time at Nyack, I’ve been working to build a collective of creatives who desire to make culture through the platforms of Film, Fashion, Photography, and Journalism. We call our ministry ‘Poiema,’ in Greek meaning ‘handiwork of God.’ We all bear the image of God, and we show that in one or another whether we subscribe to Christianity or not.”
In these months following graduation, Tyrone has been focusing on creating content for this ministry. His philosophy of ministry is to “encourage others to think twice about Jesus–the real Jesus, not some carbon copy.” He understands that people have experienced church in a myriad of ways, thus giving each of them unique perspectives on faith and life. He wishes to use their various perspectives as an advantage, to “present Jesus through a lens that encourages people to think past their previous experiences, their misconceptions, and to see clearly this Jesus we serve.”
Here are some additional questions I asked Tyrone to provide insight into how he wishes to craft the world to see Jesus in a new light.
Question 1: Tyrone, you produce some impressive photos. What is your biggest inspiration for what you capture?
I’m captivated by the fact that I get to participate with God in freezing moments in time. I’m most inspired by images that are intentional about telling a story. I read this magazine called Kinfolk; they take photos that enhance the words of their articles and elicit emotion in a way few have accomplished in my opinion. I desire to take photos like that; whether it be one photo or six, I want you to feel a story or sense of history behind each shot.
Question 2: What is your dream as a photographer?
My dream as a photographer is to engage and create culture in the same way people like Charles Spurgeon, C.S Lewis, and Rod Serling have. I would consider myself a mix of these three fellows. I want to use photography as a launching pad to delve into other art forms and bring the gospel to those places that are reached to a lesser degree.
Questions 3: How has Nyack shaped you as an artist?
It was at Nyack where I was able to strengthen my understanding that the Christian life is holistic. Colossians 3:17 says “Whatever you do in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the father through him.” I live by this.
One event that transformed my life was when I had the opportunity to attend the Simply Youth Ministry Conference with my department. During this time I had the opportunity to see so many different styles of ministry with one focus which was to bring glory and honor to the Lord. It was beautiful.
I also had the opportunity to spend some time with Walt Mueller who is an expert on how to engage culture as a Christian. It was a very important moment of my life because I was wrestling with the dichotomy of Christianity and art and I believe I was pointed in the right direction. I never would’ve experienced that moment without Nyack College. It was pivotal in my journey.
Question 4: How do you integrate your faith into your work?
I don’t have to integrate my faith into my work because my work is an extension of my faith. I don’t believe that we have to work very hard to integrate our faith because what we produce will be an outflow of our hearts, and that is very telling. What’s more important is to lay my desires and my gifts at the feet of Jesus and allow Him to do what He wants.
Question 5: What is some advice you have for current Nyack students about how to handle life post grad?
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.”(Proverbs 3: 5-6).
Post Grad life is different. Cultivate your dreams while in school and trust Him with those dreams after you graduate. The temptation will be to kill your dream in light of practicality. Don’t ever do that. The Lord is able.
It was an honor to hear more of Tyrone’s story. I am encouraged by his approach to fuse life, art, and work together. Faith, as Tyrone said, is holistic. We cannot disregard any aspect of our humanity for another. Tyrone has a good understanding of this and his life is living proof.
Stay tuned for another feature of a “World Changer of Nyack.”