Road to Redemption

Delight House

Emily Magers is an exceptional photographer. However, she is more than just an artist. She is someone who encompasses what it looks like to be a Christ follower, and a servant who is working to further Christ’s kingdom. Her story is one that is full of radical trust, pursuit, and transformation. I wanted Emily’s story to be heard. Her story has impacted my life in ways I couldn’t have imagined. I have had the chance to become close friends with Emily. Even though we are on opposite sides of the country, we still communicate daily, and she has transformed my life, as well as mentored me and helped me grow to become who I am today.

When I became a photographer, through Delight, Emily offered to be my mentor. Little did I know that the relationship we were about to embark on would be one of long plane rides, 4th of July celebrations, road trips, and a deep connection. Emily is always there for me. She is always checking in on me, and following up with my prayer requests to see how God is working in my life. She is someone who exemplifies a Proverbs 31 woman, and is always striving to do better than she did the day before. I have been personally impacted by who Emily is, and I hope that you can be encouraged by her as much as I have been. I can only imagine it will do the same for others. I had the chance to ask Emily some questions about her road to redemption, and I wan tot share her answers with you.

What events led you to a relationship with Christ?
“Growing up, I never knew Christ. My family was atheist and the only thing I knew about God was that my grandma, who is catholic, always talked about this guy named Jesus and that we should never be afraid to die because of some place called Heaven. Fast forward years and years of still not knowing Christ, until high school started. A good friend of mine started asking me to go to church, and we all have those friends that don’t give up on you, that keep asking even when they know you will say no, just incase one day you say yes. Well after all the times I continued to tell her no, and that I didn’t have an interest in “church” or “religion” she told me that I should at least come to the high school group because there were free donuts, fun games, and kids our age. So as tempting as that was (if only you knew my obsession with donuts) I still didn’t feel good enough. I thought people would judge me, and would make me do weird ritual things, and that I would say too many bad things they would look down on me for. Sure enough, my friend pulled up MySpace and showed me all who went to this high school group and there was an attractive boy, so I said, “OK, I’m in.” Oh teenage me, but praise The Lord for cute boys or I probably would have never shown up! That Sunday I went to the high school group and as soon as I walked in, something moved within me. I remember everyone being so nice, the message being so captivating, and yes, that boy was still cute. So for the following few Sundays I continued to go to this high school group, I then said it was for the cute boy, but really, it was because I couldn’t stay away. I had to know more about this Jesus guy, and what He did for me. I had to ask five million questions to make sure I understood it right, and I had to sit and listen to those worship songs again and again. The Holy Spirit was alive in me, and there was no denying it.

Backtrack a few years to when I was twelve; I was in a horrific accident with a golf club that left my facial bones shattered, and my teeth missing. I hated being in photos because I didn’t have teeth to smile, so I always ended up taking the photo. This started my passion for photography. I fell in love with telling the story, other peoples story, not my own. I loved messing around with editing for my friends new MySpace profile picture (we were so cool), and directing from behind the camera. Five years and twenty-five surgeries later, I got my final surgery that restructured my mouth and gave me my new smile, teeth and all! It was the best day and those five years and all those surgeries were some of the hardest years, but even though I didn’t know Christ at the time, He was working in me. He had a plan for my life and this accident, although not FROM Him, was just apart of it. I continued taking photos for friends, which turned into couples, which turned into weddings, which turned in to me starting my photography business as a hobby at 18. Fast forward to my junior year of college where I was working my way to my degree in Psychology, when I stopped one morning and prayed for clarity. I didn’t feel right about going into a career that I wasn’t the most passionate about. I believed the lies Satan would throw at me that to have worth, I had to have a degree, a job, and a bunch of money. So I prayed. I asked God where He wanted me and what I should do. God answered. To this day, that was the second time in my life where I had heard Him speak so clearly on my soul. He told me that He wanted me to pursue photography full time. I laughed in His face, out of fear of course, and told Him maybe once I finish my degree. He had other plans. He told me that He wanted me to pursue it now. As in, leave college, dive in headfirst, and embrace the challenge. He told me that He had a ministry for me and wanted me to trust Him. Oh, trust. That was a hard concept to grasp for me. But knowing the truth about God and that He is who He says He is, I listened. I left college mid semester kicking and screaming, and pursued my business full time. It was the most terrifying thing I had ever done, and also the best decision of my entire life. The very next day, God blessed me with inquires, and has ever since, that keep my business running, my bills paid, and the clients He hand selects that walk into my life become friends forever. I get to bless people every single day with a gift He has given me, but more importantly, I get to tell their stories, to encourage them in their lives, to meet them where they’re at and DO life beside them. Eleven years ago when I was lying in a hospital bed after my accident, God had a plan. Like He says in Jeremiah 29:11, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future.” Looking back from today, I see His plan coming into fruition. I see His hand in my life more than ever, and I trust that if He can lead a sinner like me, who comes from an atheist family growing up with no knowledge of His son, to accept Christ into their heart and have a relationship with Him, then I can trust that even when He calls me to crazy things like leaving school to pursue a hobby I thought could take me nowhere, He will sustain me and never leave me. Today I am thankful for that accident eleven years ago, for cute boys at church, and for God who sent His one and only son, Jesus Christ, to the cross to die for our sins so that we can live a life that is full, and good, and redeemed.

What were the top things you struggled with the years before coming to Christ? And since coming to Christ, what things 3 things have been most transformed about you?
Before coming to Christ I struggled with acceptance, worth, feeling good enough, and feeling like I would never be worthy of love. I came from a past of divorced parents, being mistreated by men in relationships, feeling left out of friend groups, and not feeling like I was good at anything I did. My struggles became insecurities, which then turned into pride and selfishness in order to compensate for those feelings. After coming to Christ I remember so many nights in tears as God walked with me in breaking those walls down. Still to this day I have those same moments in tears where I get to hash things out about my past with Him face to face and it is in no way easy, but in every way worth it. Since coming to Christ I have been set free of the bondage to Sin I was so entangled in for years before. I am free from the doubts and insecurities that Satan tries to make me believe. I get to walk in the path set out for me by a God who hand crafted me in the palm of His hands. Who knows every hair on my head and every bone in my body and who has LIFE to show me, give me, and breath into me every single day. I am NO WHERE near perfect, and still struggle DAILY with the issues listed above, but my attitude about it and the truth I know that comes with Christ, sets me free when I lay it all at His feet.

How does photography fit into your love for Christ? And what is your favorite part about being a photographer?
Besides the fact that God so evidently called me to this ministry and to this career in photography, my love for my job comes straight from Him. I have the biggest heart for community and for hearing and telling peoples stories. I want to walk with them through life and cry with them when they need to cry, laugh with them always, hug them when they need a friend, and celebrate with them during each new season of life! My job is so much more than pressing a button, posing people, and editing images. It’s about the stories and the relationships and how much of Christ’s love I see in my job daily. I strive to be more like Christ every day and the people I meet, the clients I get to photograph, they all teach me more than I could ever teach myself. They teach me love, and patience, and kindness, and humility, and rawness of life and I could never ask for a better career than the one I have now, documenting the most incredible people and their stories.I met Emily through Delight, and she quickly went from being my photography mentor to one of my best friends. Delight is a beautiful ministry that is devoted to cultivating community of young women who are passionate about God and the creative arts. It is a family that is full of incredibly talented women who are eagerly pursing a deeper relationship with Christ and eager to help others do the same. I encourage all of you to find someone in Delight that you can learn from, grow with, and laugh with. God will show up in your relationship, and I can personally say, my relationship with Christ has grown because of my relationship with Emily, and others in Delight.
Hannah Whelchel
Emily Mager


October 13, 2015

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  1. Sarah Vincent

    October 17th, 2015 at 11:49 am

    I love Emily’s heart for God. <3

  2. Hannah

    October 21st, 2015 at 10:49 am

    When we did the Delight Secret Sisters at Christmas last year, Emily was mine – and she was SUCH a huge blessing!! I’m so glad for the chance I got to “meet” her. Now I live in Southern Cali and I think we need to meet up sometime! =)

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