Art, in whatever form, has the ability to powerfully convey a message. Among indigenous cultures, it’s also a valued communication method.
In order to effectively share the gospel with communities around the world, it’s important to consider the creative communication methods that are meaningful to the people we are trying to reach.
Maria Custodio leads SIM International Arts as the mission tries to find more opportunities for creative people to serve in places where Jesus is not known.
“Sharing God’s word through creative art forms is a non-threatening way to share our message. Also, using the art forms of the people groups we are trying to reach breaks down cultural barriers so that people feel that the message is truly ‘for them’, and not just a foreign message from a foreign religion,” she explains.
SIM missionary, Rachel*, who is serving in South Asia adds: “Art plays a very significant role in the Buddhist religion. For many years, several generations of Buddhist painters have carried the religious teachings, meditations, and beliefs of Buddhism through the arts. I asked myself, what if God called believers to tell the story of good news to their own people through art?
"In response to this thought, I started a ministry with the goal of discipling believers and training them in creating evangelistic art tools to reach out to their own people.
"For five months, we met together to meditate on the Bible, learn from it and visit local artists to build relationships. We also produced art that could be used to tell non-believers about the gospel.
"Recently, we created four different contextualised Bible story paintings. These paintings were inspired by Buddhist art styles to communicate in a culturally relevant way. We hope that more of these contextualised paintings may be produced in order to equip believers and churches for the task God has entrusted to each one of us.
"Art has a way of opening people’s curiosity and hearts. One time, we went to a Buddhist temple and asked if we could sketch some of the elements which they use to worship. While one of the trainees was drawing an object, a Buddhist monk, an old lady and a man approached her to see what she was doing. This provided great opportunities for her to share her faith, as well as to learn more about the local Buddhist culture. We pray that God will open up more doors to interact with people and communities through art."
*Name changed to protect identity
- Pray that God will use culturally relevant art forms to effectively communicate the gospel and open the hearts of indigenous people to Jesus.
By Kerry Allan