Taking the Gospel to National Arts Festival

NATARTS
The OM team of artists aim to engage with people who visit their displays during the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown from July 2 to 12, 2015.

Originally published in OM News

A focused quietness fills the room as four painters carefully apply their paintbrushes to the motifs in making. A Namibian desert, a peaceful creek and a powerful blue ocean wave take shape on canvas.

It’s Wednesday morning at Operation Mobilisation (OM) South Africa’s base, and like every Wednesday morning, visual artists gather together to be creative. Some of their paintings will even feature at an exhibition at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, South Africa, from July 2 – 12, 2015. The team will also use their platform at the festival to share about the Creator.

Three years ago Marie Mohlomi (USA) worked as a writer with OM. While she enjoyed writing stories of what God was doing, she longed to use her gift of painting as a way of reaching others with the Gospel. Until then, visual art had been a hobby, something she enjoyed in her spare time. She wondered if it was possible to turn a hobby into a ministry. Was God putting this longing into her heart?

Step of faith
Taking a step of faith, Marie invited Pretoria artists to paint a mural above the entrance door of an inner-city ministry that reaches out to homeless men. Five painters helped, and the OM South Africa arts ministry was born.

Since then, organising a team of artists to join the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown has been an annual event. Yet taking the Gospel to the world’s second largest arts festival has not been without pain.

“At times, everything that could go wrong went wrong!” shares Marie.

“We realise again and again that we are in a spiritual battle and really need people to carry us in prayer, for practical issues as well as the spiritual impact.”

The small Grahamstown of 70 000 inhabitants almost doubles in size during the arts festival. Some drive north from the nearby cities of Port Elizabeth and East London, while others fly in from around the world. It’s an international, colourful and fun event, where it is easy for the OM team to connect with strangers, artists and spectators.

The OM team of artists brings their easels, canvases and paintbrushes. While painting, they hope to engage the visitors who stop by. In addition, they sell their previously finished work. This year the art team will be strengthened by two musicians, playing the harp and the violin, as well as a prayer group.

Marie is thankful to God for His faithfulness as she took steps of faith to pioneer a new ministry. Looking back, she says, “It’s been a roller coaster ride of faith, with God leading the way at every turn. It’s been scary, exhilarating and beautiful.”

She continues: “It’s been amazing how God has worked in so many of the artists’ lives who took part in the outreach last year. We had absolutely no idea what we were doing last year, but God did, and all of us were transformed. I’m looking forward to see what He will do this year.” 

Please pray that the Gospel will find open hearts through the paintings, music, prayer and conversations taking place during the festival

One Comment

  1. Hugh G Wetmore

    Yes, as I listened to the media punt the Grahamstown Arts Festival I wondered whether there was any Christian presence there. God is the Ultimate Creator, and the creative arts belong to Him first. So, Operation Mobilisation is making it happen! Bless the artists who seize this opportunity for Jesus.