Light For Japan Productions (L4JP) is the production ministry of Karen Ellrick. Karen and her husband Dan came from the United States to Japan as missionaries in 1996 – you can read about their missions ministry at proverbs2525.org. Before that, Karen had been a systems engineer, technical support engineer, database developer, technical documentation designer, semi-pro musician, photography hobbyist, and various other things that the Lord used to prepare her for the things she is currently doing. In 2002 she began to do video, first with teaching DVDs of Bible messages (both church sermons and studio-style) and training DVDs for short-term missionaries, and then branched out to weddings, baptisms, seminars, interviews, and a variety of other things. She came to especially enjoy making collages of video footage set to music – one such collage can be seen on the front page of the Osaka International Church (OIC) website.
In about 2004, she and Dan were investigating resources for equipping the small group ministry at OIC, and one resource they especially liked was the Life Together Worship Series (no longer called that, currently repackaged under other titles), which provided an assortment of popular praise songs along with video of nature and other scenes to enhance the meaning of the songs. We provided the DVDs for the small groups, and they were a big hit, and when the church’s book cart started stocking copies of the DVDs for sale, they sold well until we had sold out all the online outlets we could find. Sometime while this was happening, Dan said to Karen, “Why doesn’t this kind of resource exist for Japanese songs? Karen, you do video – why don’t you make it?” Thus, the journey began. She had already been enjoying filming nature when she had a chance, but after that point she made more of an intentional effort to gather the kind of footage that would be useful for this, even taking her camera equipment with her to places like Hawaii, Thailand, and Israel. At first she felt the copyright hurdles would make it too hard to produce her own DVD using copyrighted music, so she planned to start out using only songs by Noah Music Ministry, which allows free use of their music and recordings for Christian purposes. But in 2007, when she only had one song completed, she had an opportunity to show that song to the staff of Michtam Music Ministry, the first and most prolific producer of contemporary praise music in Japan (and Karen’s favorite). They liked it, and for the next year Karen selected 36 Michtam songs to be a series of three DVDs that Michtam would handle as their product, and prepared video for the 12 songs that would be on the first DVD. But in early 2009 she and Michtam discovered that their visions differed too much to do it that way, so Karen decided to try doing it as her product rather than theirs, and to include music from other music ministries besides Michtam for variety. The copyright hurdles have been indeed challenging, but the Lord has been guiding her through.
In July of 2009, Karen formed Light For Japan Productions as the legal ministry “business” for producing and selling these DVDs and other resources in the future. Her vision is to use the gifts God has given her to encourage the Church in Japan, helping them grow in their faith and reach their nation for Christ.
Besides video, Karen likes web development – she has built and maintains seven websites of various churches and ministries in Japan, and has written two online database applications that help ministries to be more efficient and accurate: KizunaDB and another, yet-unpublished one for worship leaders to manage songs. She also works with print media, having produced countless flyers, posters, tracts like The World’s Best Bread, booklets, and even a book. She is currently one of the designers for Japan Harvest magazine as well. Besides such resource development, she also helps lead worship at her church, maintains the sound equipment, and other support ministry when needed. These are all activities that Karen considers fun, and she counts it a blessing that the emotional line between work and play is so blurred in her life!
For you techies or video buffs who want to know: Karen uses Adobe software on Windows: Premiere Pro and After Effects for editing, Encore for DVD authoring, Audition for audio editing, InDesign for print media, and Illustrator and Photoshop for graphics. All those applications were used in making Japan Video Praise a reality. Her primary video camera at that time was a Canon XV2 (called a GL2 in the U.S.), and her second camera (for two-camera filming situations or trips where she can’t carry much) was a Sony DCR-HC1000. Now she has moved into HD but still likes a big bigger camera for more control, so she has a Canon Vixia HF G30. Besides tripods, she also enjoys doing walking shots and other things with a Steadicam JR stabilizer, which she even used inside a helicopter over Hawaii!
For KizunaDB and other web-based applications, she manages her own web server (hosted VPS) using PHP for the web interface, MySQL for the data, and LaTeX to create PDFs.