Five months after completing ‘Incarnate 2014’ with OM Arts, I (Curtis) was ready to put into practice what I had learned. (Click here to learn more about Incarnate) With another artist I went to Pristina, the capital city of Kosovo. In the 1990s Kosovo experienced unspeakable horrors during the war with Serbia. The UN maintains a presence there even today. With some last minute adjustments we were brought in to teach a university art class/project with the help of a couple of other workers living in the city.
Over three and a half weeks we connected with the students, personally and professionally. We were given a wonderful opportunity to make friends and also encourage them to use art to better their society and communities.
On many occasions, one student stated how she felt a peace and a joy when working with us in the studio. The students were given creative freedom in their mediums to portray cultural identity, and many works were produced during our time with them.
Beyond the university, we connected and engaged with people from other walks of life too. We spent a day at a high school, teaching art and mixing with the students. It was a perfect way to get to know these kids, by listening to their stories and encouraging them to keep pursuing beauty and creativity of life.
We got to know a local restaurant owner as well. Before leaving we gave him a gift - a portrait of himself. He was thrilled! He immediately gathered his whole family to be photographed with us, to preserve the memory. We were deeply touched by his enthusiasm and gratitude.
As a team we were greatly encouraged to see youth and young children inspired and motivated to pursue their gifts and creativity. Through our interactions with them we could model Christ’s love for them in a community setting. Within the team, God stretched us, expanded our opportunities, and helped us to grow spiritually as well. We saw and experienced God working through us to make a difference in people’s lives. We trust God to take our small efforts and multiply them in the lives of all the people with whom we interacted.
This trip is another stepping-stone for me as I continue my journey with God, art and life.
In 2006 I (Linda Wells) was touring in South Africa. One night at a concert at the Lighthouse Church, I was about to go on stage, God whispered to me "When you dance you clear the birds." I had no idea what that meant, but wrote it down. After the concert a total stranger approached me authoritatively.
"Do you know what you do when you dance?"
"Hopefully blessing God and the Body of Christ?" I said, not really knowing the answer.
He continued, "You clear the heavenly realm and you are anointed to do so because of all you have gone through in your life.”
Immediately the Parable of the Sower came to mind in Matthew 13:1-23. Jesus explains the birds in the parable represent demonic beings that steal the seeds of the Gospel from people. I realized that if they steal the seed to prevent it from taking root in people's hearts, then to "clear the birds” out of an area, would help workers of the Gospel. So, by dancing I was not only worshiping God with my gift, but also engaging the spiritual realm in warding off ‘the birds’ so that ‘the seeds’ would not be stolen!
Some years later, I believe this now with all my heart as a direct teaching from God's heart, but had no proof until 2012.
A team of dancers went to Mondim de Basto in northern Portugal. This town is very Roman Catholic and steeped in tradition and religion and known to be very resistant to the Gospel. The dance team ministered visibly in the streets all over town and at the same time also invisibly. The dancers did not see any connection with the local people, or any breakthroughs or opportunities to share the gospel.
A few moths later a different team came to Mondim de Basto to share the Gospel with the people. This team found the people to be very responsive and receptive. They shared the gospel with some young people and others in the street. Marvin (the team leader) was amazed at how easy it was to share with people about the Gospel, and they talked with some teens and even prayed with them! “It was,” Marvin said, “like someone had already prepared the way before for us.”
Neil, the leader of OM’s work in Portugal recalled the story about clearing the birds and shared it with Marvin and the team. They were so encouraged and excited to see how God had gone before them and prepared people’s hearts.
“For me [Neil] it was pretty significant in showing how God is using our teams together when we go back to the same places, and also how the dance ministry is significant.”
The ship, MV Logos Hope is known as the largest floating book fair providing thousands of books for people all over the world as well as public ministries on and off the ship. Since its retrofitting the ship is now equipped with a wonderful state of the art 400 seat performance space called ‘Hope Theatre’. In partnership with the MV Logos Hope, OM Arts is working on a Bible based theatrical production that will be performed multiple times a day in the Hope Theater to the visiting public in the various ports of call.
A proposal was presented to the ship’s leadership to produce an allegory of Christ as a platform to share the gospel. The CS Lewis story, ‘The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe’, was suggested to reveal Christ's work on the cross. This production, or one similar to it, will provide opportunities to share the story of Jesus to people who have never heard the Gospel.
Our vision is to see Christian actors and technical staff from all over the world partaking in this production on the Logos Hope as she sails across oceans, bringing knowledge, help and hope to the people of the world.
OM Arts Theater leadership is at present developing relationships with US Christian Universities with strong performing arts programs and sharing with faculty and students on how to use their gifts and talents in global missions. So far, the response has been consistent: "What do we need to do? How can we partner with you in mobilizing our students to be ambassadors for Christ?"
"For we know that man makes his plans but God determines his steps." Proverbs 16:9
The summer dance tour in northern France was not going as expected. It seemed like communication with local churches got scrambled. Pastors of host churches were not expecting dancers and were negative about the idea of dance ministry. God’s word communicates that dance is acceptable and enjoyed by Him, when the heart is fully devoted to Him. We devoted the first few days to prayer, reflected on spiritual struggles and read from the scriptures. But suspicion was still high with some pastors.
Nearing the end of the outreach, the team leader, took a walk alone one morning, frustrated, and needing to re-adjust her attitude she had an intense conversation with God: "God, I have shared everything you have taught me, I can do nothing more unless You do something and breakthrough this fear and prejudice".
For the concert that evening the local believers were praying for at least one hundred people to attend, though the theatre could seat 350 people. Their prayers did not reflect their lack of faith, but the reality that so many in France today are closed to the Gospel. To create publicity the Pastors consented for the dancers to go into the town and do some Hip Hop dance on the streets. They danced in the parks, shopping streets, squares, cafés, and anywhere they could think of during that hot afternoon. The dancers were hot, tired, hungry and discouraged when they returned to the theatre later in the afternoon.
Thirty minutes before curtain up, the concert organiser came running into the dance studio, "Five hundred people have shown up. We can only seat three hundred and fifty! We are sending people away!”
"Oh no,” said the team leader. “We don't send people away. Lord what do we do?"
The team leader sensed the Holy Spirit wanted them to go outside and dance for those who could not sit in the theatre. For two glorious hours everyone who came saw the concert. The dancers performed two concerts, simultaneously, one outside and one in the theatre.
When the people saw the efforts taken to include them all, their hearts were beautifully opened and receptive to the local believers invitations for more contact in future. At the end of the concert there was a buzz among the crowd and pastors. People stayed and talked, laughed and chatted happily and openly about the wonderful Creator of artistic gifts and His love. The pastors were amazed and now convinced of how God works through dance. Many invitations were then extended for the dancers to return.