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Why is art important for missions?

Art might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of world mission. But what if art can integrate with Christian ministry?

By Jojie Wong, International Facilitator for Mobilization Training

My childhood memories are filled with images of me sprawled on the floor with paper, crayons and pens—drawing people, flowers, or whatever caught my fancy. Art was also consistently part of my young adult life—until I got involved in full-time ministry. The most artsy thing I have ever done while in ministry was to doodle on my notes during a meeting!

Art refreshes the mind
I slowly rediscovered my love for art during my Sabbatical while writing my dissertation—as a way of refreshing my mind during my breaks. Art found its way back more fully into my life during the pandemic—I needed something to refresh my mind, since I was “house-bound” and mostly stuck in front of the computer! 

How my mind is refreshed by art delights and surprises me. As I paint my subjects, I notice details previously overlooked, making me ponder more about them: how water reflects light, how colors blend on a petal, or how color is darker and duller under a shadow. These thoughts lead me to think more deeply about God, life and ministry. I have a sharper and, somehow, a more gracious perspective of life now.

How do we integrate art into ministry?
Although art is an important part of me, it is also “apart” from my ministry. It is not really integrated with my ministry in missions. Missions is a passion of mine and so is art, at least a reignited one—how is it that these two passions have not met all this time that I have been in ministry? 

I have never wondered about this until the Serve Asia Arts and Mission event last April.

I have always viewed God as a creative God and art has always aided in deepening my worship of Him—but it has never occurred to me to see art as being integrated into ministry. 

Hearing some of our OMF colleagues share about how they are able to minister to people through art is a tremendous inspiration. I realize that having God reflected through art potentially gives those who do not know, or have a very limited understanding, of Him a fuller, more beautiful perspective of God. Imagine what will happen if the Christian becomes more intentional about ensuring that God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit is reflected in his art! Integrated with a believer’s life witness, imagine again how this clear representation of God-in-Christ can impact people’s lives.

Art integrates with ministry in many ways
During the Arts and Missions event, I was blown away by the ways in which arts and ministry were integrated, from the art pieces shared by the participants and presenters, as well as from the individual stories that accompanied them. Since then, I have had interactions with some participants who have shown a more deepened interest in getting involved in missions and ministry as a whole. One has even offered to do artwork for Sunday School use. Art not only has a great potential in ministry amongst those who do not know Him, but it can also impact the lives of those who already follow Him—inspiring them to love Him more and express this love creatively in their service to Him.

Art magnifies God
Perhaps, as it did for me, the event helped the participants appreciate art in a more integrated way: not only to view art simply as a reflection of the creative God– detached from everything else in life—but also to be able to see how it is connected with life, the Gospel and His passion. With this in mind, we can be more intentional about integrating art in the way we represent Him in our life and service. In doing so, He is magnified even more.

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