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Innovation Stories

Charlene Bowden: It’s Just Us

Listening and telling our authentic stories through the use of media platforms
by Timothy Bowman | September 13, 2022

Charlene Bowden is the owner and founder of “It’s Just Us Productions” and a nonprofit by a similar name, “It’s Just Us in the Community.” She is based in the Atlanta metro area and through her work she seeks to present the kingdom of God to those who may never walk through the doors of a church, but also to those who have a very traditional understanding of their faith. The heart of Charlene’s ministry is getting out into the community and meeting people where they live. “I am equipped and prepared to spread the Gospel and to share the Gospel with others in a way that they can hear it and receive it in language they understand. Not everyone is going to read King James, not everyone is going to read any translation of scriptures, but many of us are walking bibles in our own words and in our own way, and I believe that translates through this production company.”

Telling authentic stories

Charlene got started in this ministry as an artist manager for recording artists, and then one day she was approached about producing a radio show. She never intended to be the host of the show, but that’s what happened! The show is a platform for people to tell their authentic stories. She has interviewed politicians, educators, foreign dignitaries, artists, and community guests who are doing great things but may not have a broad platform to share this information.. 

“We talk about many things they want to talk about because it’s a place for them to tell their authentic stories.” The radio program has also evolved into a TV program called “It’s Just Us,” which broadcasts on local TV in the Atlanta area, as well as on Charlene’s YouTube channel. These shows offer people a space to be open and express their authentic selves, which isn’t a common opportunity in public life. 

Another project her team worked on over the last few years was using everyday men and women to speak for men and women of the Bible. When talking about the men she said, “I wanted the young men to realize that many of the men in the scriptures were young, some were actually teenagers.” She wanted people, men and women, to be able to have a new look at the scriptures and say something like, “oh, they’re just like me.”

Charlene also has another show called “Living the Life I Sing About,” a clip of which can be found here: 

Why do you do what you do?

Charlene shared a project her company had recently worked on that really highlighted the value in her work. The church she attends went on a mission trip in July to Tennessee, and she wanted to document the experience. Charlene initially wanted the youth to interview the camp counselors, but after going to the work site, she shifted the interview focus. She wanted the youth to talk to the people they were working for, to know them and their story. She wanted to answer the question about why they were there. The service project was to repaint the walls in an elementary school. After having a conversation with the school principal, Charlene arranged for two of the youth to interview her. The principal shared that the student population of the school has a 90% poverty rate. She also shared her story about becoming a foster parent to children so they would be able to attend school. She wanted the youth to sit with the principal, to hear her story and learn more about the school and the community.

 “I believe our children go to school and they have all these different images of teachers, principals, and administrators, but very seldom do they take or have an opportunity to sit with the principal and say, “Hey, why do you do what you do? Is this something you’ve always wanted to do? Or whatever the question may be.” After the interview Charlene’s pastor said to her, “You don’t know how impactful it was for you to take a moment to have those children sit and do the interview with the principal of that school. That can be life-changing for those young people.”

You can learn more about Charlene and her ministry or connect with her on social media here:

http://www.ijuproductions.com/

https://www.ijuinthecommunity.org/

YouTube: It’s Just Us Talk Show

Instagram: @charlenebowden

About the Author

Timothy Bowman

Timothy is a Luther Seminary graduate, a co-pastor with his wife at Zion Lutheran Church in Stewartville, MN, and a member of the Seeds Project.

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