What is it all About?
It can be hard to keep up with technology and what’s trending, however Jacob Smith over at Pilgrimage Films wants to use YouTube as a way to share the gospel. By using topics related to Taiwan culture his channel is not only informative for those less familiar with Taiwan but also has been able to teach natives more about what the folk religions actually believe and teach. It can be a great resource for learning more about Taiwan and religion in an entertaining fashion.
Listen to the Interview
Kyle Campbell interviews Jacob Smith about Pilgrimage Films on TMF’s podcast “Missionary Mindset”. If you don’t have time for a listen you can read below to get a summary of the conversation.
Who is Jacob Smith?
Jacob Smith is from Seattle. He is the field coordinator of Word of Life Fellowship Inc. Taiwan. Word of Life is known in Taiwan for its program called SYME. SYME is an English immersion program with a heavy emphasis on teaching the Bible. “When you run into Taiwan on the elevator they are to afraid to talk to a foreigner but they’ve studied for 12 years.” SYME helps Taiwanese get over that fear. But the main ministry Jacob Smith is involved with is his YouTube channel called “Pilgrimage Films”.
Pilgrimage Films is a YouTube channel that creates engaging content for students and families. By engaging with the culture around us like Taiwan folk religion and common subjects/questions in the church. Many people have little idea of what goes on around them or even what they believe. Some people found that even though they were raised in a specific religion they didn’t know that’s what it was about or what they really believed. At Pilgrimage Films they don’t compromise with Christianity, they share about what different folk religions represent and compare it to the gospel.
The name “Pilgrimage” comes from the idea of having a spiritual discipline of going to another place and having a spiritual experience. So the name represents being able to take someone from the west to take a journey to see what’s going on in the East to be able to understand more and vise versa.
Challenges of Running a Cultural YouTube Channel
You’d think that some of the biggest challenges would be with Covid-19 and preventing traveling to locations to film different religions festivals or stories. However, Jacob explains that the biggest challenge is all the research that goes into each video. Taiwan folk religion often doesn’t have one set of beliefs. Taiwan’s religion is really a mix of religions with a thousand year old history. You can imagine the complications this would cause. For example “Journey to the West” was once known as a fictional character who is now considered part of the pantheon. Jacob explains that they have a person who has studied folk religion to help guide them with having correct information. “Every script gets torn apart.”
Jacob shared some other challenges when the channel was first getting started. The team traveled all around Taiwan to film clips for stock footage and for their trailer. While traveling their vehicle broke down causing their deadlines to get pushed back on the whole channel.
A big process in starting a YouTube channel is also learning all the programs for editing the video, audio and making graphics. The team has no former training but has utilized YouTube videos to help them learn as they go. When you first start making videos you think “this sounds pretty good.” but then when you give it to a trained ear they’ll think its terrible. It’s a process and takes time to learn.
Other Ways the Channel is being Used
Pilgrimage Films YouTube channel isn’t just airing on YouTube and then its done. Jacob wants to see their videos used as actual tools. He shared about how content is also being used at Word of Life’s SYME program to discuss topics like idols. He would love to see people be able to use the content in youth groups or churches among other things.
The Future of Pilgrimage
It’s Jacob’s dream to take Pilgrimage Films beyond YouTube and someday be able to make Christian movies and documentaries but he explains that, that vision is far down the road to be able to do something like that.
Where to Watch?
You can watch the videos made by Pilgrimage Films over on YouTube by clicking the link.