Jesus walks on a lonely, deserted road, talking with a Nazi.
He chats with a beautiful, scantily-clad woman at the well.
In these and many other controversial photos, Michael Belk embarks on a campaign to share the Gospel in a unique and compelling way.
Belk, a former world-renowned fashion photographer, created Journeys with the Messiah as an innovative way to tell the story of Jesus and His parables through creative images.
His dramatic photos give the Gospel a fresh perspective and help people see its relevance in today’s world.
His new partnership with Global Media Outreach, a digital ministry that specializes in online evangelism, combines the Gospel with Belk’s images in a campaign appropriately called ‘Something Better.’
“The Gospel is so compelling in and of itself, but combining that with these images of Jesus interacting with modern-day individuals causes you to really stop and say, ‘What if this really did happen? How does this apply to me?’” Randy Valentine, chief marketing officer of Global Media Outreach, said in an interview with The Christian Post.
Global Media Outreach has shared the Gospel through more than two billion online presentations worldwide since 2004.
The ‘Something Better’ campaign plans to use its technology to share the Gospel and Belk’s images through multiple websites, cellphone networks, and social media platforms.
The goal, Belk says, is to present the Gospel to “every person in America” by showing people searching for hope that Jesus has “something better for them.”
Valentine said GMO has seen a steady increase in Google searches since the beginning of the pandemic from people who have fears about the virus and an uncertain future.
“People are full of fear right now, and we’ve really entered into that and presented the Gospel,” he said.
“We’re showing people that Jesus is bigger than all of the issues we’re facing and that He has the answer for all of our needs, from fear to exhaustion,” says Valentino.
Something Better is designed to deliver Belk’s images with an accompanying Gospel message to viewers based on keywords they are searching for.
“Science has proven that someone sees words and then an image attached, the retention rate is much higher than just seeing a Gospel presentation or just seeing an image,” Valentine said.
“When we combine those two things, it’s really powerful.”
Belk’s fashion photos have appeared in some of the top magazines in the world, including Vogue, GQ and Elle.
His Journeys with the Messiah images explore the modern-day relevance of the Gospel by depicting Jesus interacting with people like Nazis and prostitutes, and addressing modern-day issues like poverty, materialism, addiction, and hypocrisy.
But the photo that resonates the most with people is captioned “Rest for the Weary” which depicts a man in a suit and tie collapsed on the steps of a building with his head resting on Jesus’ lap.
“It’s showing viewers that if we come to Jesus, He will give us peace and rest,” Belk told The Christian Post.
“In America, we’re so tired, we’re so anxious. COVID is tiring. We’re discouraged, we’re hurting.”
“We’re presenting these images and the Gospel presentation to people at a real point of need.”
Something Better is already having an impact. Through October, more than 83,000 people had interacted with the website, and more than 17,000 answered “yes” to Jesus.
Valentine said the goal is to connect with more than 150 million Americans and see 30 million decisions for Christ.
The project is already offering people hope. Valentine cited examples of people going online with suicidal thoughts, and then changing their minds because of the campaign.
“We’re really excited to see these results, and we thank the Lord for it,” he said.
Belk said the pandemic has also compelled people to reach out, searching for answers about life.
“This is an opportunity to discover something better,” he said. “Our sovereign God knows what He’s doing, and we’re just leaning into that through Something Better.”
See some of his powerful images here on his website: