“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)

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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.
Thursday, 17 October 2019 19:53

From the Archives: A conversation with Bruce Herman

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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…

Wednesday, 23 October 2019 19:52

Light in the City

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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.

Monday, 28 October 2019 16:26

Water in Sanzhi

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This is a story of a painting in Sanzhi, Taiwan in August 2019

Written with Amy C (in italics)

-

For Sanzhi, it’s the sea. The vibrant blue colour is so calm. You can see even a very small part of the sea from the church

Almost every day they gathered to jot down what they saw or heard, from God, from people.

And when they listened it was water

they heard.

Water is what people spoke about 

Water is what the group, praying, saw: the blue sea,

rain

the clean water that runs through the city and springs into water bamboo and cherry blossoms. Water for growing food to share, as people do, though sometimes there is hardship.

Water bringing harmony.

And people value harmony;

I recalled a conversation with a local food stall owner. Most of the locals have an ethnic belief which is somehow a mix of Buddhism, Confucianism and Animism and local culture. The food stall owner shared that he thinks all creatures has the responsibility to develop a better world. People worship different spirits to look for a balance and ask to work well together.

It was for these artists to tell him God’s harmonious mandate for his Creation at the world’s beginning.

And it is for these artists to discern what God says in this moment and place, to a world of rivers and rain, life and lack, blue sea and harmony and the confusion of spirits.

When they speak to the pastor in the church about all they had noticed, he tells them a well also sustains the church- as the blossom and water bamboo are sustained- with water coming up! The living water from God poured down and flows into all around… and overflows in the church…

God is nurturing this land and is always present in Sanzhi. The Living Water flowing in the whole city, immersed into their daily life, gives…It is not the other spirits they are worshiping who build up what they are proud of,

Or provide what they need…

To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Revelation 21.6

So with water in their thoughts, the living water they know thirsty people here need, a design formed between them;

and underneath the strong sun and under shelter from the mild rain, fast before the typhoon came, they painted together...

They served with their strength together, with kids and elders working in harmony.

During the whole project, I saw a lot of connections. Connections within the church, between the church and the restaurant nearby, the community, the government, the people passing by… The wall is just beside the main road, open to public, so they could witness the birth of the mural painting...they were so curious and willing to come to chit chat…

1908 tw arts 166 lo orig

 The paintings are held together by a strong blue thread welling up in images of Sanzhi suggesting abundance, and hope and joy.

The group leader said:

"The production of this mural is God inspired and woven with His threads and purposes. The blank wall that physically hid the church is now a piece of art that connects people via the visual imagery and relationally as people ask  questions and converse about it."

"My hope is that it becomes a land mark that people will come to see and then God will touch them as they soak it in and think about it..."

""Customers at the steak house next door can eat their dinner and discuss the imagery and inherent symbolism. I look forward to following up with my friends in Sanzhi in a few months, six months, a year and trace what God is doing as an outcome of painting a piece of art on a wall”

I praise God for his continue work in this little town. Sending missionaries here to proclaim His presence in Sanzhi.

Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the living water flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh;

so where the river flows everything will live. Amy C

To learn more about how you can serve with art on short term projects such as this: click here

Tuesday, 29 October 2019 17:38

Dance and Theology

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Dance and theology… they don't sound like they go together, do they? After all, dance is mysterious, open to interpretation and engages our emotions; theology is analytical, focused on having the right interpretation of scripture and engages our mind. But what, at first glance, seem to be two very different subjects are actually deeply entwined: developing and deepening each other and giving us a perfect way to love our Lord.

Monday, 04 November 2019 14:46

La Mouette Mazoutée

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La mer aurait d’ être belle

La soleil brille haut dans le ciel

Mais je suis comme èchouè 

Tel une èpave toute rouillèe

Je peux á peine soulever les ailes

Toutes noircies! Mes plus si belles

Je me sens si emprisonnè

Enveloppé dans cette chappe

Should I worry about today? Are these things that I can change? 

How much should I plan? 

Should I stay? 

No matter where I go 

I feel something holding on  

Where can I find the strength to  

fly on? 

Lorsque le Soleil s'est levé

Une main est venu me sauver

J’ai alors pu déployer mes ailes

Alors libéré, j’ai décollé

I won’t worry about today  

These things I cannot change 

And I don’t have to plan 

And I know you’ll be holding on long after I’m done with this song 

And you’ll always give me the strength to 

fly on 

-

English Version

The Oiled Seagull 

The sea should have been beautiful 

The sun shines high in the sky 

But I am stranded like a rusty wreck 

I can barely lift my wings 

All black! My beautiful feathers 

I feel so imprisoned 

Wrapped in this oil screed 

Should I worry about today? Are these things that I can change? 

How much should I plan? 

Should I stay? 

No matter where I go 

I feel something holding on  

Where can I find the strength to  

fly on? 

But one morning when the sun rose 

I saw the hand of the one who came to save me 

He cleaned me, then my wings I could deploy 

It was hard to believe- I was released 

I won’t worry about today  

These things I cannot change 

And I don’t have to plan 

And I know you’ll be holding on long after I’m done with this song 

And you’ll always give me the strength to 

fly on 

 

Written on an OM arts trip to France, by Elise Ha and J

To read an article about the writing of this song, CLICK HERE

bird1

Monday, 04 November 2019 14:49

The Oiled Seagull

Written by

Written with Elise Ha (in italics)

Brittany, Morbihan. August 2019

Brittany is also this: the sea, the seagulls everywhere...

For every 60,000 people, one church. But in cafes and chapels Christ’s light will shine, as songs in the darkness;

in Lorient, Vannes, Concarneau and Cléguérec….

After praying the first day…we wrote a song about a Fisherman and the Samaritan.  

24 people including 11 musicians, through OM, gathered this summer to write and perform songs; writing in the musical language of people’s hearts, learning the sounds and culture, praying for the themes…

The second day it was the seagull. We were out in the sun, and a real seagull was walking beside us…. 

Without many hours to write, they brought their fragility and nervousness to God’s power. And songs were written! One song was written by French singer Elise and Texan musician J.

guitar in france

The time was very very short to write it, just 2 hours!  

There is no doubt that God was with us and protected us through everything. It is thanks to Him that we could compose our songs.... Glory to God! 

The musicians were thinking about the chords, while Elise wrote the words. She found the melody thanks to guitar chords and violin notes for the verses. They wrote in French and English, singing one part each; because here, in France, people like those who speak in English. And that did not fail. The public liked to hear him sing!

So in His strength and not their own, this song was composed and sung to glorify God in concerts, showing His love and sharing the gospel.

People love this song even if they do not understand the meaning right away. They also like our attitude. We tried to adapt…to use a theme that speaks to them. We are always asked at the end where this idea comes from...  

A man invited us into his home after (one) concert. I was really touched, especially because we had learnt earlier that the people in Brittany take a bit of time to open up to others. Ever since, it has been on my heart to pray for him and his son.  

Here are the song lyrics:

 La Mouette Mazoutée

This song speaks of salvation in Christ. Oil is sin. The Savior is Jesus who cleans us of our sins,  

and we can fly free like this seagull… 

Elise still sings this song today in her concerts in Paris with her band EsperanCiel: www.esperanciel.fr

To learn more about ways to serve in these type of art outreaches with OM arts, go to https://omarts.org

Friday, 08 November 2019 18:29

Who is He?

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‘Who is He?’ 

'Who is He' is a series of two-plate etchings by Olga Coronovschi.

Wednesday, 20 November 2019 19:40

Their hands tell quiet stories

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Taught silence, learning not to express herself, then this lady met Jesus. Now she was wondering- through what art might she speak about him, where expression may be so restricted?

-

Artists, pastors and worship leaders from seven ethnic groups in South Asia came together to learn more about praising God and sharing truth with art from their culture. They read scripture and created, from songs to dances, dances to drama

to painting

to textiles....

During the workshop, this lady wrote and sang her first recitation of scripture; and, she re-imagined mehndi, a beloved art allowed for women: a way to share the gospel without getting them in trouble.

Here is a picture of her women’s group’s hands the very next week - covered in Bible stories....

For more about this workshop by OM arts, read https://heartsoundsinternational.tumblr.com/post/185436943446/the-tree-of-lifeand-worship

Monday, 13 April 2020 21:42

Redeeming Local Arts for God's Kingdom

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2001 Mon 909

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
.” -Mour 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.

2001 Mon 282      2001 Mon 591

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

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