“It was the first time I realized that painting could capture the Word of God, speak into people’s lives and give me the opportunity to share my faith.”

Janice T. (Alliance & Short-term team member)


Every day all around the globe, artists on mission are creating, cultivating, and contributing in their communities. As they seek to see their art used in the work the Lord is doing, we want to share their stories to encourage and inspire.
This blog is a place to read those stories, giving you a glimpse into how the Lord is using the arts around the world.
Friday, 27 August 2021 20:39

An Interview with Colin Harbinson: 'Toymaker and Son'

Rate this item
(2 votes)

We’ve spent the past couple of weeks telling you about long-time partner and friend Colin Harbinson. From Russia to the Amazon, Colin has always had a vision for how the Lord desires to use the arts to open doors for the gospel. Today, we are providing some backstory on his play Toymaker and Son and sharing an exciting update! 

Colin originally wrote the play Toymaker & Son for his middle school students in a desire to leave them with something that would communicate biblical truth before he left to join YWAM. In the allegory, God is the Toymaker, Jesus is the Toymaker’s Son, and humanity is represented as toys. The production lasts 55 minutes and lays out the story of the gospel in a creative way. After the initial school performance, a colleague who saw the production asked Colin to put it on as an outreach on the piazzas of Venice. Colin was unsure how the performance would go, as people are not necessarily inclined to stop and watch anything for that length of time. However, hundreds of people stopped and watched in Piazza San Marco, drinking in the message of the gospel. Prior to these public performances in Italy, the troupe performed for 350 student missionaries, all of whom were weeping throughout.

After this, Toymaker & Son traveled to over 70 countries and 6 continents in a 3-decade period. It was performed as an official part of the Commonwealth Games, the 1980 World Cup in Spain, and the 1984 Olympics. In the 1980’s, a team traveled to Colombia, South America, to perform. The leader of the team there arranged for a performance in a notorious prison. After the performance, 800 men raised their hands to follow Jesus. This Colombian leader re-explained the gospel invitation, wanting to ensure that these men knew what they were deciding. All 800 raised their hands again, this time with the addition of the prison guards. A few years later, one of the performers went back to Colombia and met with a Christian leader who told her the prison was so transformed that for a long time after the performance it was nicknamed the “Bible School.” Colin comments, “God can touch the human heart, transform institutions, and our culture!”

For a long time, Colin has dreamed of turning Toymaker & Son into an illustrated  children’s book. In 2017, he had a major heart attack and lay in the hospital hovering between life and death. He had peace, but his one regret was that he had not written a book about his life journey or turned Toymaker & Son into a children’s book. He contacted friend and illustrator Bryan Pollard who told him that a major project of his had just fallen through, and he sensed it was God’s timing for him to illustrate this book. Colin began writing, but it was immensely challenging to turn a theatre production with music and dance into prose. Someone suggested that Colin try poetry, and it was then that the story, as he says, “came alive!” The printing, shipping, and marketing of the book was delayed due to COVID, but Colin says that God’s timing is perfect. It is expected that the book will be available soon, well in time for Christmas purchases, and he is excited to see what God will do through the work. Colin’s prayer is that “God will use the book to speak His truth to a whole new generation.” He desires that the Lord use it to both reaffirm the Christian narrative in fresh ways to those who know it, and introduce it in a creative way to those who don’t. We are praying this alongside Colin and are thrilled to see this project come to life!

Check back in a few days for one final article on Colin with his words to artists considering missions.


A page from Toymaker & Son

Last modified on Friday, 27 August 2021 20:50