It’s exciting to see God using artists to open hearts and doors. Because the creative arts are attractive to many people, he is using art in mission contexts around the world.
It’s been four months since I got back from Kenya, where I ran an art residency for SIM International Arts, and I’m bowled over by God’s grace. He has taken that three-week event and breathed life into it which just goes on growing.
It was a simple enough programme. We invited some overseas and Kenyan artists to work together in a Nairobi art studio, sharing in training workshops and going on field trips to slums and rescue homes for street kids. The object: to introduce the artists to opportunities to use their skills and creativity for God in mission. Five were Christians from overseas - from Canada, the US and New Zealand. The five from Nairobi soon swelled to 12 (because... Africa). At the end of the residency three interns had committed to long-term mission.
By Jess Lawrence, OMF New Zealand
It doesn’t take a lengthy internet search to quickly come across stories of well-meaning people who go to other countries determined to “make a difference”, but instead cause more problems than they solve. The kind-hearted Christian women’s group who turn up to serve at an orphanage, forming significant attachments with children who are heartbroken when the well-meaning but naïve ladies leave after a few short weeks. The church group who arrives in a hurricane-damaged nation to rebuild houses, feeling satisfied that they’ve done their bit toward saving the world…but leave behind dwellings that are poorly-constructed and unsafe; good for nothing but to be torn down after the group departs. There are sad-but-true stories of communities left hurt by visitors who have lofty intentions, but no understanding of the long-term impact of their efforts.