The top 10:

Action Team photo competition 2018

We bring you the finalists in the annual BMS World Mission Action Team photo competition.

Be warned, you’re about to be bitten by the gap year bug. We certainly were as we looked at the Action Team photos submitted by the class of 2017/18, though sadly most of us are beyond our gap-year years! If you know anyone who isn’t old like us and might want to do a Christian gap year in places like these, share this story with them! They could be our next crop of Action Teams

We loved judging these photos. And, after much debate (it went on for hours), we finally picked our top ten. They are beautiful.

Tenth place: Nepal

A mountain isin the distance, while in the foreground is a bench, with sunlight shining on it
What a stunning sight this is. We adored this photo of the Annapurna Himalayas the moment we saw it.

Rachel Paton will never forget this view from a five-day trek in the Annapurna Himalayas.

“As we got ready to begin our descent early in the morning, the sun filled the valleys with a golden haze,” says Rachel. “I was overwhelmed with a sense of how privileged I’d been to see sights such as these.”

Ninth place: Nepal

A woman in red clothing, crouches behind a statue, pinching a cigarette in her fingers
This candid shot of a woman smoking a cigarette was taken when the Nepal Action Team were visiting a temple.

This woman was begging at the foot of a temple staircase in Bhaktapur, a town east of Kathmandu. And then for a moment, she retreated behind an enormous stone statue just as Rachel Paton took her picture.

“She seemed to be hiding; weary, perhaps, of being visible but often ignored by so many people passing by,” says Rachel.

Eighth place: Guinea

Children sit behind desks as a teacher writes on a chalkboard
Children fill a classroom in Guinea, though just like in classrooms around the world, concentrating all the time is not possible for every child.

There are over 80 young children packed into this preschool classroom in Guinea. Teaching assistant and Guinea Action Team member Eleanor Hyde found space somehow to take this photo of the children’s eagerness to learn.

“They jump up to show you their work, and with huge smiles encourage you to keep teaching them,” says Eleanor. “These are God’s children, gifted and purposed.”

Seventh place: Nepal

Small blue boats on a lake with mist in the distance
This picture from Nepal captured our attention because of its beauty and the sense of tranquillity.

The serenity of Phewa Lake in the Pokhara Valley was captured by Rachel Paton (she really did take a lot of great photos!), with its stillness contrasted by what was happening behind her.

“There were tourists out for a stroll, locals using the lakeside footpath, Tibetan refugees selling handcrafted jewellery, and women washing clothes at the edge of the water,” says Rachel. “It is a wonderful place to visit.”

Sixth place: Nepal

Children in blue clothing smile and laugh as they pull on a flag
It is play time at a Nepal school, with these young children having the time of their lives.

Children couldn’t contain their excitement when this parachute was brought out at a rural school in Nepal. And Action Teamer and gifted photographer Rachel Paton was there to capture the joy.

“We had to work hard to convince them that this particular parachute was not to be used for flying, just for playing with on the ground!” says Rachel.

Fifth place: Guinea

Children in the distance wade through water
Children on a small island off the coast of Guinea head into the water in search of fish to catch.

Guinea Action Teamer Mhairi Cole was on a small island off the African nation’s coast when she saw a group of children being given a fishing lesson.

“They proudly presented their huge catch,” says Mhairi. “And then later on, we had the opportunity to try some. I would give the fish a five-star rating!”

Fourth place: Mozambique

A young child peers behind a tree in Mozambique
This adorable scene during a game of hide-and-seek was captured in Mozambique.

Who doesn’t love a game of hide-and-seek? The children Action Teamer Rhiannon Cleghorn met in Mozambique clearly do. And though this boy had only trees to hide behind when Rhiannon was playing, it meant an adorable photo of him could be taken.

Third place: Mozambique

A man and a woman walk on a beach at sunset
Along with great need and a history of conflict and colonial oppression, Mozambique has glorious beaches enjoyed by local people every day. They are even more stunning as the sun sets, as this image shows.

Living by the coast was one of the biggest blessings for the Action Team in Mozambique, says Rhiannon Cleghorn.

“Sunday afternoons were spent at the beach playing football and making some of our best friends,” she said. “To top it all off, the sunsets were always serious ‘creation appreciation’ experiences.”

Second place: Nepal

Bells of different sizes hang from a pole, with a mountain range in the background.
These prayer bells in Nepal were wonderfully captured with the contours of the valley in the background.

This is a photo that makes you want to stand where photographer Rachel Paton did. She took this photo at the iconic Buddhist temple, Swayambhu, which is on top of a hill in the Kathmandu Valley.

“We were up there as the sun was setting, and the evening light striking this row of bells caught my attention just before we started to head down,” she says.

And the winner is: Nepal

An elephant with a trunk painted with colours looks at the camera
This photo, taken in Nepal by Rachel Paton, caught our attention straight away.

What a striking photo this is, and an obvious first place in this year’s Action Team photo competition. It was captured in Nepal by Rachel Paton (who else?!), and shows the beauty of God’s work in the form of this majestic elephant, Mayabhati.

“Three men were responsible for her around-the-clock care,” says Rachel. “It was amazing to see her, just as it was amazing to learn about the unique relationship that people in Nepal have with these parts of the country.”

Congratulations not only to those in the top ten, but to everyone who submitted a photo. You’ve inspired, moved and challenged us, and reminded us all of how magnificent God’s creation is.

Do you know a future Action Teamer?

Our Action Teams programme is one of the best Christian gap year programmes out there. If you know anyone aged between 17 and 23 who wants to serve God overseas then encourage them to get in touch with us today. You never know, they might just make next year’s photo competition top ten!

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