January 5, 2017

President's desk: Art as ministry

Written by  Nelson Okanya

This article appears in the January/February 2017 issue of Missionary Messenger; sign up to read more articles like this one.

“The purposes of art and religion are the same. Transformation." ­— Kenyon Adams, former Arts Ministries Coordinator at the Center for Faith and Work, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City

JJ. SDG. These initials appeared on all the works of J.S. Bach, certainly one of the greatest composers the world has ever known. Even 250 years later, Bach’s musical masterpieces lift our souls and spirits like few things can. Before Bach penned a single note, he would write JJ on the top of the page. It stood for Jesu Juva (Jesus help me). And when a work was complete, he wrote on the bottom of the page SDG, which stood for Soli Deo Gloria (for the glory of God alone). Bach understood the Creator as the originator of art. He knew that art can reflect the transforming power of God.

Art can reach people when other methods may fail. In this issue you will read about Evelyn Hershey, a baby boomer serving in Nairobi, Kenya, who wanted to share the love of Jesus by teaching art to local children. There’s also an article written by sensitive workers in South Asia who write praise music in Urdu, inspired by the Holy Spirit. Other articles are about creating beauty, photography, and art — all ways to bring honor to our Creator.

In this issue of Messenger, you will also find a new section for children meant to engage, inspire, and equip them, that they may realize that a life of faith is a life of adventure! This month features Davis Kaye, a third culture kid serving in Tanzania with his family. Please also note changes in our mission statement, tagline, and logo. These are explained on page 13.

Just as in the ancient cathedrals of Europe, where the stained glass windows told gospel stories to illiterate masses, art can be used to transform lives by drawing us to a God who loves beauty and who loves us even more. It is my prayer that through our lives and through our mission, we may continue to reflect the beauty of our Creator.

Nelson Okanya serves as president of EMM.

This article appears in the January/February 2017 issue of Missionary Messenger; sign up to read more articles like this one.

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Eastern Mennonite Missions

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