Cydil Waggoner, missionary in Albania with husband, Nathan, and kids, Ellie and Reni, loves taking photos and has a great eye for capturing special moments. When the Waggoners moved from the capital city of Tirana to a small village, they wanted to find a way to get to know their new neighbors. As anyone who has moved to a new place knows, the task of getting to know people and building relationships can take a long time. Cydil had the idea to offer each family in the village the gift of a photo session and a canvas photo mounted on a stretch frame. Thus, The Portrait Project was born.
With over 100 families living in the village, the Waggoners began to make contacts, visit homes, and take photos. Within one year, they had visited over 50 homes and matched each family with a ministry partner in the U.S. who had committed to pray for the Albanian family. At each photo session, the family was also given a personal invitation to the programs and services at the ministry center where Cydil and Nathan serve.
Partners in the U.S. who committed to pray for a family were given a postcard-size photo, with names and prayer requests written on the back. Many of the partners also contributed $15 to cover the cost of the canvas print.
As Nathan and Cydil have made their way through the village, they have come to realize that, for the families, even more meaningful than the physical gift of a family portrait was the realization that they are being remembered by their prayer partners in the United States. One lady from a neighboring village, in tears, said, “I wish I lived there so I could be part of The Portrait Project!” When Cydil assured her that they could take her family’s picture, too, she replied, “I don’t care as much about the picture. I just want someone to pray for my family!”
And that’s what The Portrait Project is all about.
ACT: Create your own portrait project. Ask to take photos of the families in your neighborhood so that you can pray for them. Then print the photos, and each night for the next year, commit to pray as a family for your neighbors.