The Urban Refuge Church asked me to create a piece around the theme of waiting and anticipation. Initially, I brainstormed about the idea for the advent season, but we decided to use it instead as an illustration for their Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration, focusing on the dream of freedom and equality modeled by the church.
My thoughts behind the painting:
As I contemplated the idea of waiting and what having faith during that time looks like, the image of someone waiting for rain in the desert came to mind, much like the story of Elijah praying for rain in the Old Testament. I chose to paint children because Jesus often uses them as examples of what faith looks like. Their simple trust that someone will come through on their word is inspiring. I also remembered the story of a man in South Africa who felt compelled by God to plant potatoes during a drought because God would bring the rain, and he needed to be prepared for when it would come. True faith moves forward before all the pieces are in place, believing that God will move when the time is right. So, I painted the children planting seeds and wearing rain boots. I put an umbrella in the mural to illustrate their expectation that rain would come, despite the dry and cracked ground. Painting one child black and the other white was a specific request of the church who prioritizes promoting interracial reconciliation and diversity in their ministry. I think the mural fits well with so many believers’ anticipations of the day when the body of believers will fully embrace their calling to join with Christ in His work of reconciling all to the Father.
Wendy Bartel attended Incarnate in 2014. You can see more of Wendy’s art on her website.
Watch a powerful video of a timelapse of the painting of the mural set to Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech by clicking the image below.