The Urban Web Link caught up with Adam Tillman-Young, a recent film graduate of Temple University. A videographer, Adam was often seen in Philly with a camera… be it at a wedding, a Cross Movementphoto shoot, or just taking candid shots. So we were surprised to find out that Adam took a little detour from his plans to write movies for Hollywood. He’s on a ranch in Texas milking cows, among other things, and he’s doing it for Jesus! Adam also addresses Christians working in the film industry.
UWL: Hi Adam, thank you for taking the time to let the Urban Web Link interview you.
Adam: My pleasure, I’ve been a big fan for years.
UWL: That’s right! You found out about Amtrak discounts in our resource section back in the day. We love informing saints of helpful information.
Adam: At the time, I was still in college and believe it or not, seeing TRAIN DISCOUNTS in the resource section was what really impressed me about the Urban Web Link. I was happy to see that there was a service that was genuinely interested in providing that kind of valuable information to urban Christians.
UWL: Cool. We are interested in providing resources and interviewing interesting people doing interesting things, which brings us to you! What have you been up to these days?
A videographer, Adam is often seen behind the lens of a camera.
Adam: Some people may know me as photographer and a digital filmmaker from Philadelphia, but I’m actually doing something a little different these days; I’m living and volunteering on a 114-acre Christian ranch in Seguin, TX.
The ministry I’m with is called Genesis Christian Church, and we’ve recently relocated here from the east coast. The main arm of the ministry is to provide TUITION-FREE Christian education to any child who wants it. Our unofficial slogan is: “Nobody should ever offer a Christian education that Jesus couldn’t have afforded to attend.” My main job is to complete a documentary about the school so that it can be distributed to any other churches worldwide to show that it IS possible to empower communities for FREE with the Word of God.
UWL: Wow. That sounds like you are apart of an amazing vision. What types of things do you on the ranch day to day?
Pictured above, Adam Tillman-Young milking a cow.
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Adam:Since the school is free, we’re currently developing side enterprises whose main purposes are to help support the ministry. One of those ventures is a raw milk organic dairy. One of my jobs is to milk the cows and the goats in the morning, and I’m generally responsible for making sure that all the animals stay healthy, and (since the milk is raw) that everything is done as sanitarily as possible.
UWL: Did you ever think you’d be milking cows and goats one day?
Adam: Absolutely not! When I first started, I kept having visions of people I know from Philadelphia laughing their heads off at me. I’d milked one cow before at a petting zoo, and I’d watched people milk goats, but I NEVER imagined that I’d be helping to run a dairy of a dozen Jersey cows and over 40 goats! And we don’t believe in milking with suction machines! We milk each one of those jokers by HAND!
UWL: It sounds like you have a lot of thinking time on the farm performing tasks like that. What types of things are you thinking of as you milk cows? Definitely a change of pace for you.
Adam: Who are you telling! I’m used to a cell phone that rings non-stop and schedules jam-packed with photoshoots, videoshoots, busy subways, people, Starbucks and overwhelming messages from popular culture and the media.
Here on Everything Jesus Ranch, it’s QUIET (aside from the occasional moo of a cow, or the galloping of a horse). God has really used my time here to help me learn His “still, small voice”. I love the city, and part of me can’t wait to get back, but I think that everyone should take time off like this. In the city, sometimes it feels impossible to hear His voice amidst the blaring music and the street fights and the general brusqueness of everyday city life.
As an “Urban Believer”, I worshiped an “Urban God”. Living out here in the middle of nowhere has allowed me to see a part of THE SAME GOD which totally transcends culture and location. The same Jehovah who reigns supreme on Broad Street also reigns supreme on the banks of the Guadalupe river, or in the southern pasture with horses galloping all around you. You see a different side of our Father out here.
UWL: That’s awesome, and it sounds like it was quite a sacrifice for someone like yourself who had just graduated from Temple University with a film degree. You are also a well-known photographer & videographer in the Christian Hip Hop community, among other things. What actually made you decide to participate in this venture, and how long have you committed to it?
Adam: I may sound gung-ho now, but in the beginning I was very reluctant to commit the first year, and now the following year until June ’06. The ministry was founded by my parents Gina Tillman-Young and Edward D. Young who approached me after I graduated and “asked” me to help them start the church/school in Texas. It was NOT what I had planned, but I could recognize the genuine need for committed believers to lend a hand. It’s not a glamorous post, I’m not in the limelight, and I’m not engaged in something that will necessarily promote MY name and MY agenda. Nevertheless, I prayed about it and felt that God was calling me to assist.
UWL: Fascinating. Have your parents always been in full-time ministry?
Above, Adam films a baptism at the ranch.
Adam:My parents are the most amazing people I know. They’re both very accomplished, Harvard-educated, creative professionals who have decided to obey Christ and dedicate every last resource they have to the advancement of His Kingdom. My father is a retired corporate attorney and my mother (also an attorney) has been an ordained minister since before I was born, and has been pastoring Genesis Christian Church for the past 12 years or so.
UWL: Ahhh, so you are a “PK.”
Adam: The secret’s out.
UWL: I knew there was something special about you! (Laugh.)
Adam: I can also do a cool Kermit the Frog voice.
UWL: So you’ve committed to give two-years total to the ranch? How is the documentary going? And what do you plan to do after this particular assignment from God is over?
Adam: We just had our one-year Texas anniversary in October, and we started our first experimental year of school in September, and I’ll be here until the academic year is over in June. Incidentally, I’m also the Language Arts teacher!
The documentary is going very slooooowly. My finished product needs to be under an hour long, and I’ve already recorded over 300 hours of footage! Editing this thing is going to be a beast, so pray for me! After the documentary is finished, I’m going to be doing something VERY uncomfortable–I’m moving to Los Angeles to pursue screen and television writing full-time. I’m trying not to be anxious about the move, but it’s really got me spooked. Hollywood is very intimidating ground for me, and I NEVER EVER EVER thought that God would lead me there. I’d always envisioned opening up a studio of my own on the east coast. That’s still my dream, but for now I believe that God is taking me the LONG way back to the east coast (laugh).
Right now, I’m in the application process to a Christian screenwriting program called “Act One” in Hollywood. Act One is designed to help Christians in the entertainment industry produce top-notch quality work without losing our call to be “salt and light.” The program is geared specifically toward writers who want to work in the mainstream.
UWL: You are really on the move for God, Adam. Literally.
When you say you want to pursue screen and television writing full-time, what type of genres? Romantic, Horror films, documentaries, all of the above?
Adam: All that and more! In my free time (what a joke!) I’m writing a romantic comedy, a drama, a political thriller, an experimental short, a “tragicomedy”, I’m planning future documentaries, and the ideas never stop coming. I’m also developing an original television sitcom, and I’m collaborating long-distance with Philly’s own Jessica Padilla on a teenage television drama series.
UWL: Amazing. your story reminds me of how God had Moses in the wilderness before He started really using Him and putting his gifts to work. Then when it was time, Moses saw burning bushes, frogs, hail, and all sorts of things popping off by the power of God! I’m glad to see that God is filling you up with nonstop ideas. And we hope to see some of your work on TV or on the big screen some time soon, Lord willing! We need more quality films made by Christians.
Adam: I think it is the Lord’s will to see just that. Hollywood isn’t evil in and of itself, it’s a city with businesses that hire based on skill rather than faith. If a Christian is the most skilled, or if Christian is the best director, or if a Christian has the best story, then a Christian will be hired. That’s how Christians need to approach the call to minister to and from Hollywood. Unfortunately, too many Christians think that their faith is a greencard which releases them from the responsibility of studying a craft and being excellent therein. We praise classical music, art, and literature for it’s skill, but we often overlook that most of those same artists were CHRISTIANS who first dedicated their life to being creative like God. God, our Creator, is the ultimate source of beauty and creativity! We need a new renaissance. I hope to be a part of that.
UWL: I believe you shall be, Adam, and believe that you actually already are!
Adam: Thanks for the kind words.
UWL: We’ll I’ve really enjoyed this interview. How is it that you are logging on from a ranch? There’s Internet access there? And any last words you’d like to share with our readers?
Adam: Yo! Our lonely little remote ranch uses a high-powered wireless satellite to connect–in other words, we have a fairly fast connection. The other day, the dish went down, and we called our provider to see what was up, and they were like: “What do you expect? Your church uses the MOST bandwidth in the city!”
Even more than the library and other businesses! That gave us all a laugh; we do use the Internet quite a bit.
Thanks for having me, June! The pleasure has been mine. For anyone still interested in seeing some of my old college video projects, feel free to visit my website http://www.hillcityparable.com and click on the ugly baby!
UWL: Is that how people can get ahold of you too?
Adam: Yes indeed! My email: firstname.lastname@example.org. And for anyone interested, Genesis Christian Church is always looking for strong believers to volunteer! Get at me!
UWL: Cool. Well thank you for giving us your time and a glimpse into what God is doing with you. I know many will find this story inspiring. Stay encouraged!
Adam: UWL is doper than cream cheese! Keep it up!