He sits buried, encamped by the screens of his computers, staring intently at them with piercing focus. Every moment or so, stopping to adjust his glasses and resharpen his gaze at screens.
This figure is Ozni Torres. Many have seen his work thrown about on our social media pages. Many have come to admire his creative genius, but few have seen the man in his dimension and heard the story of his dedication to supporting the ministry here at B.C.E with his prolific abilities to create media and propel his vision for this particular ministry forward.
If we are to begin learning the story of the vision, that is captured through the media department at B.C.E and its growing needs, we must begin by capturing the sight of a man whose journey was to create and support the ministry with these creations.
I felt it was only natural to start the journey at the inception of his creative nature. And so we began by speaking of what drove his passion for creating and bringing that drive here to B.C.E. From the very beginning, Ozni started serving at his church and fueling his creative nature at the same time. Which eventually led to him coming to serve at B.C.E.
“From an early age, early teen let’s say 15 I kinda grew up in the church…From 15 to 25, that’s a 10 experience I got from serving in leadership in the youth group. I was trying to use what I have; like my education. I went to UB and did my bachelor’s in I.T… So by that time[when he started ministry], there was this thing of like social media and videos…We said let’s do a Facebook page and post and we’re noticing how can we keep inviting the youths…we can message everybody and we can do pictures post ads you know this Saturday movie night or worship night talent night and it will be a bit more fun for them. And then after that, we can take pictures and we can post them. From that early age of a teen, I started doing not even knowing that liked it.”
I poked about his coming to serve here at B.C.E, he recalls the circumstances, “…there was an opening, kind of. Because the guy that was doing media, Aaron had to leave for Canada so they had no media guy… He [Alexander] went to see me and talk to me about what was happening here. I had no idea what I was getting into. At the time I had already graduated from UB[University of Belize] two years had already passed from graduation and I couldn’t find a job. And I applied [to] so many places while I’m still serving at church [and] here comes Alexander [and at] that time I’m struggling thinking, in my heart, I was thinking I want to serve God full time.”
Ozni in many ways- in my opinion- was prepared for what God had in store for him. He took his ingenuity for creating media and made a step of faith to serve God full time at B.C.E. He talks about how he came to make that decision, “He [Alexander] talked to me and said what these guys do. And what he wanted me for, like in the part of media. And his idea of media and how it’s been done. I kinda do that and it sounds interesting and it hit me at the moment that ok, maybe this God answering my prayers, [it] is an opportunity where I can get to use what I kinda know and serve God full time… He said to come for two months and I came for 2 months and after those two months I knew this what I wanted to do”
Of course, that is not all of his story. We also discussed part of his process here at B.C.E as well. It started with a man capable, not always fully equipped but keen on taking the challenge to bridge the gap of what he has and what needs to be done. He recounts part of his process of growth, “…it was hard because the pictures that I took – they weren’t good pictures. I remember those two months there was an afternoon program with the youths right you know, and Ms. Blanco said I need you to make me a video of all the pictures you’re taking. of all the footage you have taken this summer from the young people. A cool video so they can see it and they can share it. …I did it. I did the first one. It took me a while to do and I put it all together. Then I showed it to her, and she was not impressed at all. She told me everything she thought was wrong with it. It was just not to the standards that she was expecting. So I had to do the video, but the next week she challenged me to do something to come out of my comfort zone. And strive for something higher. I am comfortable doing this because it’s so easy. She challenged me and said go higher and above. And ever since then it has always been a reminder to push and to try to do something better” Ozni was humble enough to know where he stands and what is ahead of him in terms of growth and pursuit of excellence, something that is strived for here at B.C.E.
This pursuit drives the innovation of the Media department. There is a point where this pursuit of excellence drives the need for better, faster, and more equipment. So we began the conversation on how the needs of the Media department are growing and how he has done the best with what he has been given. He reminisces the circumstances, “When I got here, the media department was just me. There was not a studio, a space did not exist. I used to work in the office just like everybody else. when we needed a voice, we used to have an old big sponge shotgun mic a Rode shotgun mic and we…it didn’t sound like the best audio in the world… and there was no space and so we would say everybody stay quiet in the office [or] we try to find someplace to go. There was one time we had to make a video during the summer about the harvest and with literally recording a girl’s audio in the minivan… so there was no space but there has always been a need…So I would never tell them you know I can’t do this because you guys don’t have this; you need to get this first”
Imagine a mason eager to construct wonders. Also, a carpenter ready to chisel the wood and make a myriad of furniture from plain planks. Imagine these people now devoid of the tools that allow them to pursue their craft. Or worn and rusty tools, from the era, long gone. Maybe if they are geniuses and virtuoso in their field they still can create. But Imagine what more they can do with the finest of instruments. Maybe you can deduce which is Ozni based on what has been said about him thus far. Yet intrinsically, there is a portion of me compelled to say ‘here take the few that I have and pursue your craft.” And so I sit here typing this story. About a man that dreams and knows how crucial his work is because he gives light to how others are working here at B.C.E and humbly says this of the purpose of the Media department: to show the world the work being done. He dreams of one day having his team working around the clock. To not leave not one ministry work unsaid or unheard of.
He is convinced that having a dedicated studio space will serve the ministry at B.C.E better and sees it as a crucial part of the growth of the ministry. He explains“ it helps to have the studio building that we can then – 100 percent kind of move on our time…the thing is, if we have our studio building, we can record almost anything that we need in there when it comes to audio and when it comes to video… But the quality would improve [based] on [how] we’d have so much more workspace to dream… Imagine how much more the possibilities will be when we have [the studio] A story about one of the dreams that we had last year before the year ended, with Miss Blanco. We wanted to start, [a] podcast, not just audio, but video, a live podcast Right. [unfortunatley] we don’t have any space. But imagine how amazing it would be if we have the studio building. We have a dedicated area for the podcast”
With Children’s ministry productions in full swing, and having to borrow a studio space in Belize City to complete our work, we hope to begin construction soon on a studio building and grow this area in ministry.
My hope is that in hearing this story you have been inspired to say like Ozni ‘Let me use what I know and what’s in front of me,’ in being a part of the vision of Belize Changing Belize.