Heart Sounds International, a ministry of OM Arts, was recently in Mongolia to record Christian songs composed by one of the nation’s leading Christian songwriters. For one of the songs, the team needed a man’s voice. They knew that Tumku, who had recorded previous projects, was up to the task. He sang into the mic with conviction. The lyrics were written to reach deeply into the souls of Mongolians, recalling a time of fierce pride when warriors on horseback rode in the conquests of Genghis Khan.
Equipped with a harmonium, a rich voice and a straight forward testimony, Anwar has called many to follow Christ and is helping shape the culture of worship in Pakistan.
To find out more about Anwar and his music ministry follow the weblink below.
In my first two years in Belgium, one of the most significant things I’ve learned is the power of simple things. One of the values of my church community is integration into local context. We strive to be relevant and active in the city, to be examples of Jesus while being fully assimilated into Belgian culture, specifically, the culture and rhythms of our city. Our heart is to go where people are and be a part of what they are doing—to be the light of Jesus among them.
We do not own a church building, but rather meet in a school. We put on a kids' club in a community building in one of the neighborhoods that is home to many young families. Instead of creating our own program for low income and isolated people, we volunteer with groups that are already established. This simple approach means we can function with a very low budget and little time is needed to focus on maintaining resources. It also means that we are seen by our neighbors as normal people doing normal things. Relationships are created by serving our city in this way, creating ripples of influence.
Just this spring, we saw the difference between two “bigger” and “smaller” events whose community impact were the inverse of their size. The bigger event was an Easter multi-discipline art program put on by the OM Belgium team, including eight artists from various countries. We had professional-quality music and visual art with simple but excellent-quality sound and lighting. Outside of regular church attendees, three visitors came from the city. The quality was there and everyone said it was a great performance, but the people reached were few.
A few weeks later, I participated in an exhibition day with one of the community associations with whom I volunteer. As far as I know, I was the only Jesus follower involved in the program. I exhibited with six other local artists who possess varying degrees of artistic skill. Between 50 and 60 people came—only three were Jesus followers. I was able to share about my artwork and faith, and have open conversations about who I believe Jesus is, because people knew me as a person they respect and trust from my involvement in their daily world. From a professional and artistic perspective, this second event was much less effective, but the kingdom impact ranked it high above the larger event.
The small event is powerful, creating an environment for direct connections and building relationships. It relies on the simplicity of one life touching another. It is in these interactions that lives are transformed.
The story of Chuck Tryon who serves with OM Arts. How he went from working in IT to rediscovering his passion for sculpting, and using it as a means to display God's beauty to those around him.
To find out more about Chuck, follow the weblink below.
All sorts of images come to mind when one mentions the Arabian Peninsula. But how often are those images connected to local artistry and opportunities for vibrant artists? They should be.
Dubai is typically thought of as the standout of modernity and elegance, and for understandable reasons. Being chosen as the host for a World Expo in 2020 only underscores its position in the Gulf. But creativity and exciting advancements with the arts in the AP go far beyond this one city.
“Juhuu Kidz Vol. 1” is an album of eight songs written for children. The songs were birthed out of an April 2019 workshop in Kosovo. The workshop was a collaboration between Heart Sounds International (a ministry of OM Arts) and the OM team in Kosovo, as well as Greater Europe Mission and members of five different churches both in Kosovo and Albania. Three days of the weeklong workshop were dedicated to writing songs for children and amazingly over 20 songs were written. Out of these songs, 18 were chosen to make up what will be the first two albums for children. The first album containing eight songs was just released September 15th, 2019.
Original Christian music in the Albanian language is still underdeveloped, and even more so music written for children. Although there have been original worship songs written by the Albanian speaking Church for the past couple decades, a lack of opportunity and resources has slowed the process down. Shtëpia Records (a ministry of OM in Kosovo) began two years ago to try and equip people both in Kosovo and Albania to write and record original music for their churches. After the songs were written at the April workshop, Shtëpia Records continued to work on the production and then re-recorded the songs.
Although all the songs are geared towards children, musically the album is rather unique because it includes a variety of genres as well as musicians and vocalists. During the workshop, all the songs were written in community with different groups of people, and often the group of writers and composers changed on each song. Overall the whole album has eleven people that helped write and compose the songs and eight people that were part of the production and recording. The songs include influences from genres such as Pop, Rock, Hip-Hop, African, and Latin music; there is also a lullaby. Lyrically the songs are based on Scripture and are sometimes direct quotes. Many of the songs focus on God’s love as well as not being afraid. One of the songs is based on Genesis 1 and teaches children what God created on each day, another song talks about the Fruit of the Spirit. Other songs talk about God being Light and another about how we should love one another.
The hope for the album (as well as future albums) is that it will be a resource for churches to use in children’s ministry as well as for parents to use to teach their children.
Transcribed and edited by Katie D
Jesus takes us to a place of discomfort because He goes into the darkness. He's going after people who are lost. He's on the hunt and we need to follow Him - Bruce Herman
In 2017 we chatted with noted painter, speaker and author Bruce Herman. He has been a professor and curator of exhibitions at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts since 1984. Here he speaks of artists, scandal, hospitality and the crossing of borders…
The north of England.
A woman stands with a little group in a dark church in a changing corner of the city; a new city for her.
The church is now unusual there; a stone island looking fast forgotten while the city grows, while people move to the surrounding streets of red houses. They come from many places; they bring many cultures, art and beliefs.
What are we doing here? she thinks,
and she suddenly thinks; ‘here You are.’
The woman, an artist, had many large ideas for what to do in the church, to show God’s light in this city, but how to do them? Not much seemed to happen. She prayed, and read:
Then you will know which way to go, because you have never been this way before (Joshua 3. 4)
She knew that God was telling her to stop with her own ways- telling her simply to follow him...
so she is there still, quietly making friends and sharing art classes through the church, meeting ladies in the local café and drawing there, making pictures with children in school. Her steps and ideas guided;
I’m going by the seat of my pants and by the Holy Spirit
And in the school, they have been learning about the God who guides, and who is the light in this transforming city. One of her 11-year-old students liked the song by Rend Collective, “My Lighthouse’” and inspired, designed a window. This student said;
“As a Muslim, although I don’t think of God as a father, I think of him as my Creator, who guides me through my life. The Lord’s prayer is an important part of our school. We looked at each part in detail and decided that the line “Lead us not into temptation” links with guidance. Psalm 119:105 ‘Your word is a lamp to my feet, a light to my path’. Inspired by this Bible quote, I produced a picture of a lighthouse guiding a person from the rough seas to the calm waters...”
“I think of God as a lighthouse when we need help or are in difficulties we place our trust upon God to help and guide us – just as a lighthouse guides the boats...”
“the art group studied stained glass windows and we then created one ourselves. The finished one now is above our doors, to welcome anyone who walks through our doors to a school where God lives and will always guide us. I hope you like my window!”
The artist says: It is now shining above the entrance to the school. My prayer is that these children will one day come to acknowledge Jesus as the Light of the world
If you’d like to know more about opportunities to serve with your art around the world contact us.
To Mon people with a Buddhist worldview, local Mon churches in Myanmar are culturally foreign in nearly every aspect (heavily westernised). Therefore, the Gospel is viewed as ‘a foreign religion,’ and evangelical Christians are small in number as is church growth. Our host recognized that redeeming local arts expressions for God’s Kingdom would resonate with the heart of the people and largely eliminate or minimise existing barriers to the Gospel. For the local Church, this is a very radical concept. Many discounted traditional sounding biblically-based music as being ‘Buddhist’ without listening long enough to hear the lyrics!
“In this internet age, we have noticed that people also want to
see these songs, not just listen to them.” -M, our host
In January 2020, a small team went to Myanmar for twelve days to film footage to make music videos for eight Christian Mon songs – using traditional instruments and musical styles. Since 2012, this represented the fourth trip to this area to produce contextualized music and media for the Mon people. As in previous installments, collaboration with local artists was critical for success. While these artists were Buddhist, they seized the opportunity to uphold and celebrate their culture’s art forms, as did we. Dance would largely be the center piece for these music videos - beautiful, graceful, subtle, elegant and highly expressive.
While the immediate goal was to film dancers, musicians, singers and footage for the songs, God also infused this pursuit with many other wonderful outcomes. The dancers (from the same village) invited us to visit their village, which was a great honor. We spent the better part of a day meeting their families and neighbours, eating, hearing their stories and learning about their interests, culture, hopes and dreams. This was a very special time that built bridges of trust and friendship that local workers will follow up on.
This production required the team to be in an almost constant state of planning and adapting. The team also filmed a documentary about how the whole project has come together and why. A lot of ‘behind the scenes’ footage was filmed along with interviews. We clearly experienced God’s presence and work beyond the focus of the video production. As these music videos are shared, our expectation is that God’s Spirit will open the hearts of the Mon people to see and understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ is for them.
Written and Photos by Dileep Ratnaike, East Asia Arts Catalyst