Originally published on July 1, 2017
We were a team of almost 20 people (Filipino and American), representing multiple organisations and a variety of art disciplines: music, dance, visual art, photography, audio recording, drama, storytelling, jewelry-making, 3D paper crafts and even quilling. Heart Sounds International’s trips are typically limited to music and recording. This was a dream come true!
The location was a small mining community in the southern Philippines whose government had asked our hosts to encourage their youth as part of an anti-drug campaign. We had no idea how many would come, of what faith they would be, or if they had any previous artistic experience!
One hundred people showed up: youth from the town, church youth groups from across the region, women from different villages, and a group of pastors—it was a mix of everything! We normally work with mostly musicians and pastors. We knew this would be the most comprehensive and complex workshop we had ever done.
We centered on the parable of the Mustard Seed (Mark 4:30-32), and acted it out through Colossians 3:16: dwelling richly in God’s Word, responding through creativity, and maturing into a safe shelter for others. We encouraged and honed local talents while intentionally using local art supplies, instruments and music.
Participants received skills training and learned to dwell on God’s story, verbalize their own unique story, take the risk of sharing it with others, practice being a safe listener, then encourage each other through God’s story again.
As the youth were exploring these ideas through their arts assignments, the women were listening nearby as they made jewelry for income. In another part of the camp, pastors and worship leaders were eagerly “mining” God’s Word for treasures to help in planning and leading worship, many finding a rare safe place to work through their own personal struggles. Finally, HSI audio engineer Geoff Logan spent tireless days training a group of men to run a recording studio. During the camp, they recorded a local church band.
It was truly a whirlwind. But as the parable describes, our prayer is that the seeds planted would grow into the largest trees of the garden; i.e., their lives would respond to God in diverse and beautiful ways as a testimony and safe harbor for others—worship in action.