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EU Alumni Perspective: Denise Godwin

Name: Denise Hartman Godwin

Graduation Year: 1989

Major: Communications

Current Position: President, International Media Ministries (AG missionary organization and 501c3 nonprofit)

City and State: Madrid, Spain

 

Tell us about your career and what you do now.

I started my career as a journalist at a weekly newspaper in Kansas City, Missouri three months before I walked the line at graduation. I had already married my husband Kerry and finished my class schedule in December. It was so exciting to actually get to do what I’d studied. (Thanks, Mrs. Shedd!)

 

I’d heard about short-term mission trips (Missions Abroad Placement Program MAPS) at Evangel and Kerry and I wanted to do that one day, but we put it on the back burner to just pay the bills.

 

After a few years, a missionary came to our home church and described us: writers, photographers, graphic designers! We knew it was time to pursue a mission trip.

 

We went to International Media Ministries as MAPS workers on a short-term 2 year assignment. We lived in Brussels, Belgium. Other EU alumni were there during our two years. It was an incredible experience and we added a lot of video and production design skill sets to our resumes. Certain kinds of missions really segue with your career and give you a chance to build a resume while also building up the kingdom of God.

We came home thinking it was too hard to be missionaries and that we would not choose that path permanently. We resumed secular media jobs in the Kansas City area, but thought in seven years we would consider another short-term mission trip. We worked in magazine, video production, graphics, marketing of eye surgeries, book design, and various communication-related jobs.

 

God showed up in a big way almost seven years to the day later to call us very clearly out of our comfort zone. We had many excuses why we couldn’t be missionaries. We’d never pastored or worked at a church. A missionary in our church listed the reasons they thought they could not be missionaries and they were exactly the same as ours.

 

We knew one thing—whatever media and missions work we did would be sharing the good news into Islamic parts of the world. Nearly every ministry in the world seems to be looking for help in communications. We eventually gave in to God’s call, gave the rest of our careers as media people to Him, and decided that we would work with International Media Ministries again.  IMM actually blankets many parts of the world and much of the media work is for closed regions, including Indonesia, Iran, and Arabic speaking regions. In this one place, we would have a chance to touch nearly the whole world.

 

After jumping through a lot of hoops to become missionaries, we took our media skills to the mission field permanently. While we were in that two-year process, IMM had to move from Belgium (where we had spent our two years) to Madrid, Spain, due to visa issues and crack downs on international residents after 9/11.

 

We arrived in Spain in 2005 and joined the production team of IMM. Initially, I was doing production assistant and associate producer work, but I also worked with the promotional and development aspects of IMM. Later, I would coordinate the production department as production manager. God was preparing me to understand all the various aspects of the work of IMM, but I had no idea.

 

Communication skills aid you in so many aspects of business, production, development, and public relations. I’ve always been glad I chose that major. Through attrition and the inevitable changes that occur on the mission field, I was eventually asked by the IMM board to step into the lead role. I accepted and have served IMM as president for the past 7 years. My husband has served in many roles as well, including set design, historical research, art direction, video compositing, and the many, many other production positions necessitated by ever-changing team members.

 

We are always looking for more people to join the team and have had many EU alum as part of our IMM family over the years. The work at International Media Ministries is to share Jesus on every screen possible in the world, be that TV, phone, computer, satellite access, social media, etc. Through the years, hundreds of millions of people have seen programs to learn about hope in Christ.

 

We have also trained people all over the world to use media in their own cultural context. We know that the work expands beyond many borders. Dedicating our lives to missions is both the best and the hardest thing we’ve ever done. We are so glad we made this choice.

 

 

What is your favorite memory from Evangel?

Hanging out with my friends in the dorms (we were supposed to say residence halls!!!!) was so much fun. We ate so much popcorn. I also loved skipping chapel to get donuts (only once in a great while!) and Scott Hall Live (it was like Saturday Night Live)…one of my favorite songs for life came out of that night. We were building community and didn’t even know it.

 

How did Evangel help you identify/develop your calling?

I was very clear about becoming a writer via communications when I came to Evangel, but the communications department put it into a practical form and gave me ways to practice it. I learned that short-term mission trips were available through the Assemblies of God World Missions program from chapel and other students. I had no idea it would change the entire course of my life!

 

How did your experience at Evangel prepare you for life after graduation?

I did a work-study and had different positions on The Lance for several years, including Managing Editor and Photo Lab tech—back when you developed film!

 

These ended up being things I’ve used in my work nearly every day. The device I typed on changed, the software mutated greatly, and the “film” is now invisible and can be in your pocket on your phone, but all the principles have served me well.

 

What advice would you give a current student preparing for the workforce?

 

I always tell friends going to college to make sure you get internships. I asked my first boss why he hired me and he said it was because I’d interned at two real papers (Springfield Business Journal and The News-Leader). On-campus experience is good, but work experience is even better.  Evangel made that very accessible for me. Those internships didn’t pay me as a student, but they got me a job later.

I also say make sure you have some fun. It sounds crazy, but there aren’t really many times in life you can just skip something without a lot of explaining. College is a unique time. Occasionally skipping a class with no harm to your grade on a sunny day to build memories and friendships is a great delight. Those are the memories that will stick with you and probably friendships that will last a lifetime. Do study hard, but know that very few professions want to know if you got a 4.0. Get those internships to prove you’re learning your field, build your resume, and try not to stress out.

 

What would you look for if you were in a position to hire new graduates from Evangel?

Flexibility; willingness to adapt, learn, and collaborate in a team environment; and willingness to give the local culture a pass on the things you don’t understand, whether that is corporate culture or the place you live.

 

Too many people in the arts and media industry are “experts” and it ends up being really hard to incorporate them into a team. Collaboration is so important for us since we can work with people in up to 20 different language groups, depending on the year. It cannot be all about our opinions, especially as missionaries. Dedication to serve others and serve a higher purpose together is hard but fantastic when it works.

Categories: Cultivate