The Runyons, Co-Founders and Team Leaders
For all of you considering applying for our upcoming Media Mission, we just wanted to let you know...you'll be in good hands! A former Media Mission team member (whose work you can find here!) wrote up this incredibly kind article about our Team Leaders, and co-founders, Whitney and Nick Runyon. When coming on a Media Mission with T.A.P you'll experience intimate community with complete strangers. You walk into this experience expecting to have fun and take a few good pictures, but you leave a Media Mission, filled with life, transformed world views, knit together with a new creative community and stories that could change someone's world! We're announcing our next Media Mission TONIGHT, so stay tuned! But for now, read the words by Kendell of Hey Sunshine, to find out with whom you're getting involved!
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I’ve can’t quite put my finger on it, but I’ve never really loved the phrase ‘ power couple’. I mean, I get the gist of it, but I think the term lacks intimacy, vulnerability, assuredness in God, and the comfortable strength that couples who are truly influential exude. But, I’ve never thought of a proper replacement. That is, until last week. After adventuring on a Ugandan Media Mission led by Whitney and Nick Runyon of The Archibald Project, it came to me. The upgrade. In fact, it was impossible to watch the fervor for their ministry unfold and not seek a different set of syllables altogether.
So, I submit for your approval a fresh label for a new generation of inspiring leaders and purposeful activists…the ‘Intentional Dreamers’.
Observing Whitney and Nick it was clear to me that you can’t have one part of speech without the other, at least if you hope to stir effective change, that is. Dreams crave intention, and intention rests solidly on bold imaginings. Modern missionaries need purpose, focus, goals, and deliberate vision; but without crazy dreams, wild freedom, and creative thinking, the symmetry is profoundly lacking. Luckily for my team, and anyone who has ever come in contact with Whitney and Nick, their balance is pretty on point.
First off, it’s probably advantageous to know where this genius ministry began. In August of 2011, Whitney (working as a professional photographer at the time) and Nick traveled to Bulgaria to document the adoption of a seven year-old boy, Archie Eicher (the namesake of The Archibald Project), with Down syndrome. In love with the experience, but not overthinking it, they were astounded to find out how much of an impact those images created. The pictures not only evoked important conversation but later inspired another couple to adopt as well. God was planting seeds in the Runyon’s hearts. Seeds that would most certainly bear fruit. There was just a little more work to do.
In January of 2012, The Archibald Project officially became a non-profit and started to ground itself in a bigger truth. Even after the initial, wildly efficacious, Media Mission in March of 2014, leading a team of nine artists to an orphanage in Jinja, Uganda, I don’t think the Runyon’s were fully anticipating what was to come. God was asking more of them. Much more. Fast forward to later that year, despite flying planes since he was a mere 13 years old, Nick intentionally walked away from a successful career as a pilot. Whitney stopped accepting potential clients. No income on the horizon, and only loose plans to base their future on, they leapt. Who does that?!? Yep, you’ve got it,Intentional Dreamers do. After Christmas, they packed up the essentials and moved to Uganda. Blind faith, anyone?
The first four months of 2015 have seen them leading three separate teams of creative artists on Media Missions and educating the social media world about the orphan crises, orphan care, and family preservation in Uganda. Even though you think that would keep them busy enough, on the sidelines they craft time to reflect, evolve, and plan for the future of The Archibald Project, to expand beyond Africa. Their sincere desire to tell stories, advocate for orphans around the world, and inspire people to action for the fatherless is evident in every choice they make.
The incredible team of faith-driven artists I had the privilege of traveling with all came to the same conclusions about this gregarious duet. Their leadership is effortless, safe, and organic. You feel like you could grab a good beer with them and change the world, all in one night. Whitney and Nick value artistic freedom, humanitarian sensibility, gospel truths, genuine change, and real relationships. Watching them interact with one another you’re (just a little) sickened by how much they love each other, yet it’s that love they’ve poured on that allows them to empty the overflow onto their collective vision. The Archibald Project stretches people, takes them out of comfortable reality, and gives them permission to use their art to love. They desire to see the orphan crisis eliminated. And, I believe they will. Because? I believe in them.
On the surface, you’d undoubtedly surmise that Nick in the Intentional and Whitney is the Dreamer, yet I’m going to go out on a limb and speculate that one only appears so because of the confidence instilled by the other. They’re travelers, they’re creatives, they’re foodies, they’re grateful, they’re conversationalists, they’re followers of Christ, they’re perfect for each other and their mission. Move over power couples. They’re Intentional Dreamers.
And, it’s so good.
Seeking the sunshine with you,
(Above photo by Media Mission team member, Katie Jameson)
(Above 2 photos by Media Mission Ashley Essig)