Survivor of... By inSpire with Hannah Banks

Photo: Hannah Banks
We asked Hannah Banks about her journey into creativity and the impact that photography and videography has made on her life.

inSpire - Hannah, you have been instrumental in creating some powerful videos and are big into photography. We want to hear more about this, but before we do, tell us about yourself. What is your background and how did you get into the creative arts?

Banks - My life story fuels my passion for ministry and life in general. I moved a lot as a child and never really established who I was or where I fit in. I was outgoing, athletic and was always into something. I made average grades and excelled in sports. My life changed from that spunky little girl when I was 13 years old. I was raped. After that, I struggled with depression, self-mutilation, drugs, alcohol, men and eventually suicide. I was in and out of psychiatric hospitals and group homes for years to follow. When I was 17, a man from a church came and visited the group home I was in. He talked about a man named Jesus who could heal my heart and change my life. I was intrigued at the thought of my life being changed. He showed me how easy it was to talk to Him. That night after he left, I prayed fervently for the first time in my life. My life has never been the same. That man became my foster dad, I got baptized, graduated high school with honors, met my future husband, graduated college with a degree in elementary education, became a teacher and had a beautiful baby girl. I take no credit for where I am today. God fought for me and now I'm using my story to fight for others.

My love for photography came about when I inherited my great uncles old Pentax camera after he passed away. I was never interested in photography before then. I decided I would photograph my church's black history program which was coming up in a few weeks. I worked hard when the day came. I was anxious to develop the film to see how I did. I was devastated when I saw the photos. They were either too bright, too dark or blurry, but there was one photo that changed my life. It was the clearest, most perfectly lit photo of an elderly woman crying with her hands raised in the air. I don't know what she was going through, but I knew I was able to capture that moment of her life. It was the first time I fell in love with photography. I haven't put the camera down since.

inSpire - The moment we find our place in life, or find that new passion that we sense God is calling us toward is riveting! So you discovered photography and began to learn how to take good photos. What kind of photos do you like to take most, and why?

Banks - I mostly do portrait photography. Capturing the emotions and facial expressions of others is very remarkable. I also love creating thought provoking photos which will make people reevaluate their own personal relationship with God and what's going on in the world.
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inSpire - You have some really nice photographs and we are happy to be able to introduce you to our inSpire audience. Now, you also shoot video and have produced some powerful clips. How did you break into this medium, and how often do you shoot?

BanksSurvivor of...ministry is where I was introduced into the art of doing videos. We ministered at our church one Sabbath. Weeks following, people from all over Kansas City began asking us about our ministry. My little brother suggested we record our testimonies so we could spread God's Word, not just to individuals at church, but to others struggling in the world.

inSpire - So, tell us more about Survivor of... ministry. Is that the name of your ministry? And what's behind the name? Is it descriptive of people who are survivors of ministry? What does it mean?

Banks - Survivor of... is a ministry we started a couple years ago. Every Friday night a group of young adults would come together and have a vespers. The topic was "From test to testimony". Each individual told their story of how God brought them through a test. It was amazing to see the willingness of young adults to discuss their situations. Each person talked about how God brought them through their trials; abuse, health problems, doubts, insecurities, financial debts, rape and so many other struggles. It was such an authentic and transparent experience that needed to be seen and heard by others. One thing turned into another and a beautiful ministry was born.

inSpire - I like that a lot! Very nice. How are you telling other about this, and what kind of response have you getting?

Banks - We are getting the word out about our ministry through social medias such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. We also have Survivor of... t-shirts that we wear to start conversations. People have been very receptive to the movement. We've heard stories from people after our service that blew our minds. That's the beautiful thing about this ministry, everyone is a survivor of something. It's just a matter of if they are ready for the spiritual journey.

inSpire - I love it! In closing, is there anything you would like to say that we haven't touched on? Also, is there something that you would like our readers to respond to, or participate in? 

Banks - 
Just know that God will never fail you. Go out and tell others what God has done for you. Everyone has a story. You are a Survivor! For further information, please contact me at

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This interview was conducted by Rich DuBose, Director of Pacific Union Conference Church Support Services and the inSpire project. All rights reserved © 2013 Click here for content usage information.