2016 Testimonies

I was challenged to grow in my belief in God and His action on behalf of His people. I have grown up in the church, and it is so easy to take God for granted. Sadly, God can begin to seem stale and predictable having known Him all my life. However, I was so renewed and refreshed by the Holy Spirit during the Guild. I saw God in action in so many ways and in so many lives. I can say that I truly was transformed in my awe of God and my trust and faith in Him was strengthened day by day. Wow!! I cannot remember the last time I was on the edge of my seat (literally) to see how God was moving in a situation or person's life. I also realized that the ONLY way for those things to happen is for me to trust and move out of my comfort zone knowing that God will be out there with me. I was most touched by Mark's lesson at Letchworth in the evening, talking about trusting God with the plans He has for us and taking the gospel out to the people in our town/neighborhood/paths. I came away from that sesssion both humbled at my past apathy and excited and encouraged about ways I know I can begin to serve God in my own home, my town, my workplace.

 I loved getting to see Lamplighter and the bindery; being there at the heart of the ministry was  very special. 

-Heidi Rand

 Being surrounded by so many people brimming with the Holy Spirit gave me a new sense of what it's like to have fellowship with other believers. My selfishness was also tested this week, always being around others and sharing a room with two other boys. This week made me think of others more than I ever had. 

Mr. Powell challenged what I've been taught in acting, teaching that you should learn the character but not become the character. He also helped institute real collaboration with fellow actors when on stage.

-Noah Howard

I know God was at the Guild, touching many of our lives. My life has changed since then, and is still changing as a result of the Guild. I now have a new passion for God and sharing His wonderful creation in the arts. I loved meeting my fellow students and growing with them, in our craft and in our walk with God, over the week. I loved that we were able to talk with the masters, even if we weren't their class. Being able to learn from them was an amazing experience. I learned so many things from fellow students, the volunteers, and the masters. These people challenged me to grow in my craft and, most importantly, my walk with God.


I was so encouraged by Mark Hamby's vision for the advancement of the kingdom of God, both through discipleship and edification of the church, and through reaching out to the lost. The highlight of my week was Teri leading Christina to the Lord - What a complete JOY!!! I praise God for the work He has begun and is faithful to complete through this ministry. Mark and Bob really took time to encourage my sister, my friend, and I. They took time to look at our creative projects and offer input and affirmation. We need that from others, and they really lifted us up!

There were 3 masters that really stood out to me: John Fornof, Patrick Powell, and Rob Jorgensen. 
John's classes were AWESOME! I believe that I receieved the most beneficial information specifically in his mini seminar about 'Producers'. I really appreciated his attitude towards people and situations. Patrick was so personable. He went above and beyond to be kind and caring. What a true example of God's greatest commands. Rob included people so well into his classes. I got to sit in a little bit, and it made me wish I had taken sound design. He took time for the students, even though they were crunched to get everything done.

Seeing an audio drama completed from start to finish professionally was also a HUGE benefit to me as I continue with my friends and family to record and share audio dramas in my little part of the world. I believe I will be able to reach a higher level next time round with the information I received at the Guild.

-Heather Peterson

I loved the way Pastor Colin Smith taught. Personally, I came to a fuller knowledge that God doesn't just use the few paragons of virtue in the world. He also uses the average people, and even the really messed up people. I learned that even if you don't have a plan for God's story in your life, God has a plan for your life in His story. 


Mr. Powell is an incredible teacher who can take someone even like me and kindly show them just what they're doing up on the stage. I have immensely boosted my self-confidence just in those five days. Also, I have learned a great deal about voice acting. I have always felt that my calling has been in theater, and that getting up on stage and telling a story with others has been the easiest way for me to spread the Gospel. Now I feel that I can do that much better.

-Peter Rand

This week helped me to find the beauty of God's creation all around me and to glorify Him in everything. I often take for granted the blessings that God has given me and keeps giving me, but this week at the guild opened me eyes to strive, more than ever, for my Lord and Savior. I now have a fervent desire to seek out God in everything and to continue in what He has planned for me with dedication, hard work, and non-stop prayer. The guild has helped me to completely surrender myself to God and trust in Him for everything. 


The fellowship with the masters and other students was especially enjoyable. I loved being able to learn more about each and every one of the people there and hear how God has worked in their lives. It just helped me to glory in God's grace even more. I made some incredible life-long friends.

-McKenzie Short

I learned to truly trust God. It was a stretch to go out of my little comfort zone but it was a good stretch. 

 Kim is incredible! Not only did she teach us stuff with photography, she taught us how to live for Christ in the field.


Favorite parts...Getting to sit at a table with Mark Hamby and John Fornof. I loved hearing their stories and I gained wisdom from both of them. Going to Letchworth state park. It was so beautiful. Meeting new people who are on fire for God and making friends with them. 

-Elizabeth Kupper

I am very much an intorvert, and this trip caused me to step out of my comfort zone and see others' needs as more important than my own. I grew closer to God as well, learning more about Him and myself and what He made me to be me, and that I should stop comparing myself to others and just keep my eyes fixed on Christ. God helped me to understand that I was not doing this alone. This was just my personal journey with Him. God helped me to understand that His will may not always be what I want. I also learned that you don't have to become the character. Good actors see how they can bring more of themselves into the character.

Being able to see where all the Lamplighter books are made and being a part of the final drama presentation were pretty awesome! Mount Morris felt like it was the actual center for the Guild. Because that is where Lamplighter Ministries has now made their headquarters, it only seems fitting. I honestly feel like I went to the Exploratorium!

-Jamey Woodbeck

God had to show me over and over again that it wasn't about me, it was about those around me and how I could encourage them through their theatrical fears. He made me humble when others succeeded and I didn't, and also showed me how to resist the Devil when I was being filled with jealousy. God brought me low to build me up! I was allowing the Devil to fill me with self-pity and bitterness when I didn't get the part in the bookends. It came to the point when I had to cry out to God to take away all the negative feelings. I truly believe I touched the Divine that week, and God touched me back!

Mr. Powell was amazing! He paid attention to each student, and made each one of us feel loved and encouraged. He taught us that we cant let the disappointments keep us from being who God created us to be. Not everyone is going to think you are a superstar, but don't let the "no's" stop you from keeping on. He influenced me in ways I never could have dreamed, and taught me the importance of encouragement.

The intimate feeling of being at the headquarters made it very special to me. I got to see the personal connection that Mr. Hamby had with the town, and I appreciated that.

-Abigail Simiele


 The Guild is a week of wonder, learning, and creativity—framed in a setting of beauty. I learned more of the importance of just leaning on God, and trusting Him. I learned a lot about the art of story, and how to write a compelling story. I also learned about the power of collaboration. Over the four years I have come, I’ve seen the Guild in different settings, with different people, and different emphases, and I have loved them all. At Mohonk they were magnificent, at Letchworth it was beautiful, at Mount Morris, cozy. I would have to honestly say that, every time I have come, the quality of what has been made by the students and presented at the end of the week has gotten better and better each year.

It would be difficult to pick one year as best; however, if I had to, I would say this last year at Mount Morris was my favorite. Since I was an intern at Lamplighter two years ago, having a Guild at Lamplighter headquarters felt like coming home. While it did not have the grandeur of Mohonk, it also felt much more familiar and comfortable than the castle. Since we were so close to Letchworth State Park, we were able to visit, and did not miss out on that beauty and loveliness. Also, just having the familiar Lamplighter staff and buildings around left me feeling at home and very comfortable in the surroundings. A second thing that made the Guild better this year were the people. It’s always fun, seeing people you know from past guilds. However, this time, there were so many new faces that one was obliged to meet new people. Since I tend to be on the shy side—and if given the chance, I will just retreat to those people I know—I enjoyed being obliged to meet and talk with more new people, as I feel it helps me grow as a person. Also, there were many younger people who came with a parent as a chaperone. It was delightful to see all the parents supporting their children, and learning with them. Probably the most important reason I feel that this was the best Guild I have attended was because of how the masters (and myself in understanding) have grown in how they teach. This is certainly true of John Fornof, who has attended every Guild but one, as a master. He is an amazing example of a gracious and God-fearing man, and he’s always been an amazing teacher, but I feel that each year, he has been better. Also, this year, there were three new masters, who were absolutely amazing. Every time I come to the Guild, I am able to get more out of it—which is why I have returned so many times.

-Sarah Slagle

 I realized that I was not seriously seeking to touch the Divine and even more so allowing the Divine to touch me. I came back with a better understanding of who God is and who I am. I have come to comprehend that I needed to ask for healing, a kind of healing that only God could  provide. Through that week making the short film: Touching the Divine, I became aware of God's deep love for me. I can simply allow myself to be loved.


Bob Garner combined years of practical experience and then spiritual aspects of working as a team on a project that was ultimately God's, not ours. I had the opportunity to explore areas of filming that I never really gave time to before (photography and storyboarding). I would never have thought that I would be good in those fields but at least I was given a chance to experience something new.

-Olivia Del Boccio

My spiritual growth was tremendous this week. God certainly used the Guild to stretch and grow me. Colin Smith was fantastic in all of his sessions. I definitely learned the most through his teaching. He shed a unique light on passages, allowing me to see God in ways I hadn't before.

-Rebekah Sayre

I grew spiritually during the week in so many ways. Most prominently however, was my growth in reaching out to others outside my comfort zone. The conversations I had with fellow guild members and the interactions I had with the townsfolk while handing out concert fliers was an emboldening experience. I was also given a boost to my spiritual morale just by the large number of people around me that shared a similar interest and faith. 


I have become a more prepared and knowledgeable writer in the past week, and I feel ready to take on my projects, both academic and personal, with more vigor.

-Nathanael Williams

During my first year (at the Guild), I was super introverted and socially anxious; I was in an emotional and physical state of mind that was toxic and negative. To put it bluntly, I had a feeling that God just did not care about me or had a plan for my life. Because of my time at the Guild I started realizing what God had called me to do in life. When I came to this year's Guild and the theme was Touching the Divine, it made me look at how much the Guild has been a catalyst for my spiritual growth. While we were conceptualizing the underlying emotion of the woman in the film, Bob Garner kept coming back to this idea of “If I could just”... "if I could just touch his robe I will be healed." This idea stuck with me, as I’m now trying to reach out in faith more because of the Guild. 

My favorite part of the week was being able to learn from such knowledgeable masters and gain from their insight. Also, being able to see how the entire collaborative process of making a film is played out. I was challenged this week to look for the emotional story arc and the desires of characters, in order to tell the story better visually. Despite his years of experience working in and on film, Mr. Garner allowed us to shape the project ourselves, and only came in if he saw that we needed more guidance. Accordingly, I personally felt that he showed us servant leadership while also enabling us to shine and put forth our own creative spin on the project. 

-Bojeung Leung

Being able to work alongside Godly men who are passionate about their craft was spiritually enriching. It inspired me to strive for excellence in all that I am doing for the Lord. It became very apparent early on why these teachers were called "Masters". I have been working with sound engineering the better part of my life but I was blown away by the depth and level of detail that Rob Jorgensen puts into sound designing an audio drama. The Foley techniques were fascinating. The sound designers art of editing the audio and adding the sound effects, Foley and music is arguably perhaps the most important part of producing a radio drama. I was inspired and challenged to see the art of sound design at a deeper level than I had ever seen before. Working with and being a part of the process of producing the two bookend dramas with John Fornof, Mark Hamby, John Doryk, and Rob Jorgensen was an almost indescribable experience. Proverbs 22:29 says "Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings; they will not serve before officials of low rank." These masters are truly skilled in their work and it is clear to see they serve the King of Kings! Truly inspiring!

-Lee Stang

I came home praying and seeking God way more than I did before.

-Sarah Kate Sammons

I felt I grew in a deeper knowledge of God's character and how he uses his creation to speak to and guide us! I just loved the morning sessions! Getting up with the sun and hearing a great message in the church or sitting in the woods with an awesome devotion was such a great way to start the day!

Patrick Powell's passion for his gift, friendliness, and spiritual fervor were qualities that inspired me throughout the week! I have become a little more confident, and a little less afraid of criticism. Not to mention I have gained so much love for the arts with storytelling in particular.

 I just loved getting to know my fellow students, sharing laughs and telling stories. Also working with the other classes was great! Going to Letchworth State Park was so awesome. I think my heart skipped a beat at all the overlooks we went to and especially that last waterfall!!! That was definitely a favorite! There is such a feeling of God at work in Mount Morris, and a community beginning to form! Everything was absolutely beautiful! I can't wait to see what wonderful things are in store for the years ahead!

-Aynsley Weiss

I learned about the true grace and love of God and how He really is our joy in life. I believe the guild left not a single student untouched by His loving hand. My favorite session of the day was the Bible study first thing in the morning. I had never heard the Bible read and explained in such a way before, and it filled me with such joy I had never really experienced that I could hardly contain it! One thing that really stands out was the fact that people showed me the true love of Jesus even though they hardly knew me. It surprised as well as touched me greatly. 

I attended the writing, and I loved it . . . but I also got to see and participate in other classes. Truthfully I loved them all, because they were all different aspects of how we can glorify God and spread the love of Jesus. I learned how to better develop characters and story lines through teachings and activities. Then, throughout the week, all the knowledge and ideas in my head began to click!

 I found the humble, welcoming home-like atmosphere of Mount Morris worth more than every penny I paid to attend. Also, to see where the Lamplighter books are printed, recording in the organ, and witnessing miracles in the very streets of NY were too amazing to describe.

-Isabela Godoy

My greatest asset coming into the Guild week was my desire for God to grow me and thinking the best of everyone from before I arrived. For one morning devotions I chose Angela's group and let me tell you, it was one of the sweetest experiences. Angela shared her heart with us, she brought us not just "into His gates with thanksgiving" but she showed us the value of also "entering His courts with praise". 

During an evening session, Colin Smith shared with us that one of the most dangerous Christian pursuits was to be aware of God's presence in everything. Involving and acknowledging God in every area of my life is something I had been striving for, but it was never presented as a danger. I got to thinking, there is more responsibility and accountability when I pull God into my every day....but you know, anything less wouldn't be God's will. He is our Abba Father, he knows every swallow in the world and every star in the heavens.


 I did visual arts with the fantastic Lisa Mistiuk and it was a worthy experience. I really was challenged and encouraged. I walked in with very little knowledge, all will and instinct. Lisa led me every day into something new and untried. She has a heart for God and really has a gift for connecting with her students. She was determined all week long to be our cheerleader and to strengthen our work and God relationship. She even made a class devotional booklet for the entire week!

Having the Guild integrated into the town of Mt Morris was a really neat way to be a light to the community. All the pleasant and long walks back and forth allowed the town to interact a little with us.

-Emily Roy

Colin Smith was amazing all week! I was really challenged by the session on Genesis 50 where we looked at the end of Joseph's story. The entire story turns on the war between good and evil. Joseph tells his brothers, "You intended it for harm, but God intended it for good..." Colin asked the question, "Who decides what is 'good' and what is 'evil'?" He made the point that you could not be an artist and not know what is 'good'. The question is whose definition of good and evil am I going to live by. This is such a pivotal thing to remember going into the creative disciplines: God needs to be my Standard in every aspect of my life -- art is not in some independent category of its own.


When Pharaoh asks Joseph to interpret his dreams, Joseph's reply is, "It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer." That first line, "It is not in me," became my personal theme for this Guild. As an oldest child, I am used to being able to take charge and have a large say in how things go. As a homeschooler, I am used to being able to tackle a project from my own angle at my own pace. As a writer, I am used being able to mess with stories and characters without anyone else's input. Working on a project at the Guild very much shattered all those me-centered approaches. At first, I was frustrated. After all, if we didn't have to work with so many people on this short little script, we could have gotten it finished a lot sooner. But God had something else in mind for me. Over and over again, He was showing me that this was about much more than getting a script written. And over and over again, I found myself repeating Joseph's words. Three different character and plot ideas for one story: "It is not in me." Trying to type ten people's thoughts on one keyboard: "It is not in me." Listening to fifteen actresses do the character I had written fifteen different ways: "It is not in me." And the amazing part was, at the end of it all -- the story, the characters, the recording -- it all came out so much better than I could have imagined on my own. I think Mr. Hamby and Mr. Fornof called that sort of process and result where two individual ideas give way to a third option 'Tertium quid.' God used the script-writing process to show me His hand in much bigger ways than I could have conceived on my own.

 I loved the quieter setting in Mount Morris and the more direct connection to Lamplighter's work -- especially getting to see the bindery and recording studio. 

-Rachel Kimzey

God was teaching me that it's really not all about me. All week that was the theme for me. He was teaching me that the best way to learn and grow is to help others to do so, and to come alongside others and help them in their journey. We all have struggles and difficulties, and together we can help each other bring those to God.

I loved learning from Bob Garner! He was so wise yet humble, and was a part of our team instead of just looking on. He not only taught us about all the different aspects of filmmaking, but he showed us what it really takes: love, respect, hard work, and humility. I learned that mostly it takes the attitude of hard work and to never give up. I learned that working with a team of like-minded people who share the common goal of accomplishing God's will for each project is an irreplaceable experience, and I'm so thankful that it was mine.

Spending the day at Letchworth State park, getting to walk around and see the mountains and waterfalls was amazing!

-Emily Mann

It was an amazing week for me, and I really felt as though I was touching the Divine when we conducted our devotionals. Pastor Colin Smith gave me a TOTALLY different perspective on who Joseph really was, and his teaching was both biblical and mind-blowing. Mr. Jorgensen was an amazing teacher. As well as teaching us the aspects of sound design, he taught us to glorify God with our talents. Each master was so adept in their skillset, and you could really feel their passion for it. This passion leaked out, and now I've acquired some of it! 


Mount Morris really had a great "homey" feel to it, and I loved being in the chapel, as well as being out and about in the town. I would go back in a heartbeat!

-Max Nichols

How do you describe something that was not only physical and emotional but also spiritual? Trying to explain what Lamplighter Guild was like to people who weren't there is nearly impossible, for it wasn't just the teaching, or the food, the accommodations, or the atmosphere; it was all of them together and so much more! In order to understand, you have to experience it for yourself. When people talked beforehand about how it would change my life I honestly had a hard time believing them, but it did! I can't pinpoint a certain moment or event, but coming back I am not the same person. I beheld the glory and majesty of God in a whole new way, and I was amazed. He spoke to me and taught me as He never had before. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I was touched by the divine during that week, and not only once, but many times.  

How does one continue life as it was before after seeing, feeling, and living what we did? We are changed, and there is no going back, but there is something better - living life in a new level of relationship with God and with others. He who has been loved much loves much! If you were to ask me to describe the Guild in one word I would use "Pure"!  The conversation, the teaching; it all had a level of purity that is foreign in our society today. I was surrounded by likeminded individuals who longed to serve God with all their hearts, souls, and minds! No matter where I was or what I was doing I never felt out of place or unwanted. Everyone was so welcoming and humble. The teachers displayed such a desire to know and care about everyone there that it warms my heart even now. They didn't just care about you in the terms of one week; they cared about what your dreams were and where God could someday lead you! Thank you, teachers, for your interest and investments into our lives.  

I remember sitting on the plane coming home and feeling as if it had all been just a dream. It was very much the feeling of coming back from a place such as Narnia. Such a place shouldn't, couldn't exist! Thinking back on all that happened: the classes, Letchworth State Park, the incredible people I met, and what God taught me nearly brings tears to my eyes. I thank God over and over for allowing me to go, and I pray that I will be able to attend next year. 

To all the teachers, staff, and students who made Lamplighter Guild what it was, thank you! You have all been a part of who God is making me to be.

-Rebecca Peterson

Lisa Mistiuk was a great teacher. She is a great encourager and was patient with all of us. What captured me the most was the realization that visual artists capture a moment in time, something that will never come again. It helped me appreciate the now, the moment I am in. 

This was my first guild and I had a wonderful time. I loved seeing the Lamplighter Headquarters. I think that made it extra special, knowing that this is the "heart quarters" of the ministry. Plus, we spent an entire day at Letchworth State Park. How great is that!?

There were so many wonderful things about this week. But what impacted me the most was witnessing how Mark Hamby dedicates himself to guiding this generation into serving God with their whole hearts with mastery and excellence in the gift He has given them. I so appreciated his teaching of the Scripture.

-Cindy Dozpat

God prepared me for this week and then blessed me with awesome brothers and sisters in Christ that confirmed, expanded and humbled me. Our family in Christ grows. The masters are all blessed with the Holy Spirit and tended our souls very, very well. A lot was packed into the week, just as Mark mentioned was packed into Christ's short earthly life. Work while it is day.


I see clearer why God gave me the overlapping gifts of art and engineering. Engineering made simple is a lot of work, fine detail and very creative, as is art. Are they not one in the same? I am blessed to have God show me this.

-Leslie Dibble

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Mount Morris, NY