Thursday, October 22, 2015

so we gather

Every year since I joined the arts ministry here in London (and for several years before that), we have hosted the International Arts Gathering, a time when Christian artists from around Europe (and around the world!) can come together to discuss the role of artists in society and to get to know what each other is doing. We host the Gathering to come against the competition and comparison that is inherent in artists, and to build connections with each other.

This year, the Gathering moved from London to Berlin, and we moved with it! We spent six days co-hosting the event with YWAM Berlin, and there were over 40 people from 16 different nations involved in the event. I got to help organise everything, so by the time the Arts Gathering began, I was quite excited to get to meet the people with whom I had been corresponding for several months.

It always surprises me how much I can do art, and do art for God's glory, without thinking about my role as an artist on a global level. Lately, God has been challenging me to see the purpose in the arts, which are the tools He has put in my hands so that I can do my part of the work of bringing His Kingdom here. The refugee situation is the current event that is heavily on my heart these days, and while I can see why government workers, social workers, and healthcare workers are greatly needed to help the situation of the people from the Middle East seeking refuge in Europe, I find it harder to see where an artist is needed. But God has impressed on my heart the importance of the gifts that He has given me. As an artist, I am prone to comparison. But as God's child, I am told that I am unique, and that the gifts given me are intentional and given so that I can glorify my Father.

There are so many people using the arts around Europe in order to reach people, to put out media and entertainment that glorifies God, and to help train and disciple artists. I met several of them in Berlin a few weeks ago, and I saw their determination to use their arts to grow God's Kingdom. We walked along the Berlin Wall together and looked at the graffiti there; we ate kebabs and mulled over the entanglements of our nations and cities, we worshiped and discussed and dreamt together.

And we did it all together because we are co-labourers, siblings, and friends who were given similar gifts with which to fight. I do believe God is asking us to fight, to be intentional, and to speak with the different voices that He gave us. Now is not a time to be silent, whether God has given you the ability to build, to listen deeply, to organise chaos, to teach children, to cook, or even to do art.

We have a voice, we have tools, and we have a society that needs to hear what our Father has given us to say. And so we gather. And so we fight. And so we live.

 The London team that went to the Gathering in Berlin (minus me, because I took the photo)

Carrissa, a photography student, running through the Holocaust Memorial

 With the girls at the Holocaust Memorial

 One of the sessions of the Gathering




 The participants of the Gathering

Elin saying goodbye to Charity, our friend from YWAM Berlin

The video Andres, our videographer, made (and which I helped film)

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