Walking together as artists
“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.” And what a privilege to bring together another group of Christian artists keen to learn what God might have in store for them in his mission to the world.
I’m just back from Nairobi, where SIM International Arts held its second art residency, inviting a group of both Kenyan and international artists to join together in an intensive programme designed to demonstrate how artists can be missionaries too.
Each time we do this, we pray that God will send us people he wishes to use in this way, and the June 2019 residency turned out to be blessed by a bunch of artists open to his leading. They took part in all the opportunities given and quickly meshed as a group who will encourage each other long after returning home. One day they were visiting a slum school, seeing first-hand how God is providing for at risk and abandoned children in the midst of a neighbourhood of dire poverty and addiction; the next they were back in our studio, painting or drawing, looking for God’s inspiration to express what they felt he was showing them.
Another day they were out at a centre where street boys are held after being rounded up by police. This time our artists had prepared pictures from the story of Joseph. Each artist then worked with 2 or 3 boys from the centre to paint a mural of their “chapter” of the story on a long wall. When the murals were done, two of our local artists went from scene to scene with all the boys, explaining in Swahili Joseph’s remarkable journey from pit to prison to high government official, from slavery to saviour of thousands of people. An important feature of this residency is to adopt a learning posture, learning from God, from local people and local situations, even though – as in the case of Diana* – you might be preparing to serve as a mission partner in a vastly different part of the world.
Also among our group of 15 artists we had Christine, the wife of SIM’s director from Texas; Jessica, an artist and illustrator from Rotorua; Peter, a talented young artist who a few months ago was in a Nairobi prison; Isaac, currently studying at an art school in Kenya; Pavitra, a hospital technician from UK, wondering how to use her art talents for mission outreach.
At the end of three weeks the artists exhibited their finished art works at a local mall, explaining to passers-by what JAR (the Jesus Art Residency) is all about.
The next Nairobi Art Residency is planned for February, 2020, and will feature Trauma Healing workshops using art. If you or someone you know could benefit from this creative “shot in the arm”, please get in touch with Cindylou Barclay, (firstname.lastname@example.org).
*Not her real name