August 28, 2012

Reclaiming the Territory

Exposing the realities behind the fantasy worlds of such media as television, movies, and video games is the focus of Little Light Ministries, Inc. (LLM), founded and run by brothers Thom and Scott Mayer and friend Brandon Mascareñas.  

The Mayers and Mascareñas incorporated LLM, headquartered in Paradise, California, in 2009. Its subsidiary organization, Little Light Studios, and the umbrella ministry assert that their mission is “to produce and provide the most compelling, relevant, and innovative forms of media that illuminate biblical truth, expose spiritual darkness, and set the record straight about the true character of God.” They do this via: (1) the production of documentary and other types of educational and evangelistic DVDs; (2) presentations to groups of various ages at camp meetings, on school campuses, and at large youth events, such as Generation of Youth for Christ in North America and several countries abroad; and (3) media interviews.

How Did It Begin?
What led these three young men to target media ministry? For starters, they all took film studies together in the late 1990s while students at Pacific Union College in Angwin, California. After graduation they went their separate ways: Scott and Thom began lucrative careers in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles, and Brandon went on to Montana State University, where he completed a degree in architecture. Spiritually, however, they began to digress.

“We hadn’t completely given up on God as far as not believing in Him,” Brandon says, “but He just wasn’t a priority in our lives.”
God didn’t give up on them either, and the Holy Spirit began to lead them back into a personal relationship with Him. Eventually, in 2005, they reached a point where they reexamined their lifestyle—and they didn’t like what they saw.

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LLM LEADERS: (From left) Thom Mayer, Scott Mayer, and Brandon Mascareñas

LLM Leaders: (From left) Thom Mayer, Scott Mayer, and Brandon Mascarenas“We just took a step back and looked at our lives,” Scott explains. “We’d spent all that time and energy making videos and movies that had nothing to do with eternal things, and yet we had grown up believing in this war between God and Satan. So we asked ourselves, ‘What are we doing with our time?’?”

They began praying for the Lord to take over their lives and show them what He wanted them to do—and it didn’t take long for God to answer.

“After we started praying,” Scott says, “we were asked to speak at an academy youth rally” on the way Christians should relate to movies. That presentation changed their lives. 

Preparing the talk led them to study ways movie viewing affects the brain. They discovered that people’s brains switch to alpha gear (one of four brain wave patterns) when they view television programs and movies; during this time the subconscious is vulnerable to suggestion. Once that happens, Scott says, “our judgment can become impaired, and not only can images of violence and immorality flood our minds, but we may not react to them” as people would when the brain is in beta gear, a time when we are alert and able to learn, think clearly, and concentrate.

“The more we impair our judgment, the more likely it is that we will make bad decisions,” Brandon says. “And the more we cloud our judgment, the harder it gets to hear God’s voice.”

After that first presentation, requests for the young men to speak at other institutions and events began pouring in. In time, this led to the launching of LLM.

Not All Bad
The trio is quick to point out that their ministry isn’t attacking media as a whole, and say they understand “the power for good that this medium can have.” 

“Some of our videos have gone around the world, and there’s no way we could have spoken in all those countries. . . . Media has definitely been an integral part of building up the church,” Scott says.

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SHOOTING THE SCENE: Scott Mayer (red T-shirt) and Brandon Mascareñas (right)shooting a scene outside Little Light Studios for an upcoming documentary

Shooting the Scene: Scott Mayer (red T-shirt) and Brandon Mascarenas (right) shooting a scene outside Little Light Studios for an upcoming documentaryBrandon adds that “there are two types of media: one that tears you away from Christ, and one that leads you to Christ. We focus on creative projects that lead people to God—and the possibilities are endless.”

One such project is videotaping an individual’s personal spiritual journey. Brandon compares the watching of a person giving their heart to Christ to hearing “100 sermons. Instead of just hearing a sermon, people want to see it,” he says. “Our ministry focuses on documentary filmmaking.”

Scott, Brandon, and Thom, along with LLM’s seven other employees, also see a need to provide Adventist youth with creative places in which to work. The young adults are graduating from Adventist schools with degrees in film production, but they have few opportunities to utilize their talents and gifts within the church, they say.

“We’re not paying them, we’re not encouraging them,” Scott notes. 

Currently LLM is applying for grants to help fund a studio expansion to facilitate an educative and productive environment in which young adults can use their creative talents for God in lines of digital media. 

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To learn more about Little Light Ministries and its studios, go to www.littlelightstudios.tv or e-mail [email protected] This article was published August 9, 2012.

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