Oct 27, 2010

A Christmas Wish for Beirut

Have you thought about how you can bring the Gospel to a few thousand young people in the Middle East this Christmas?

Through music, the Word of God, storytelling, and other art forms, the Gospel will be brought to Lebanon this December. The Bill Drake Band, a ministry of OM Arts International will have the opportunity to minister to thousands of young people in Beirut.

Working with local churches, the Gospel will be presented in schools and concert venues around the city. This is an unprecedented opportunity!

$12,000 needs to be raised to cover airfare, food, lodging and transportation for the team of 8.

Will you pray and partner with us to help illuminate the truth of Christmas for people who so desperately need to hear this message?

For residents of the USA, give securely online by clicking here.

Or give a support gift through your local OM office with the notation: OMUSA-9071BDBL10   Click here for your local OM office.

Oct 19, 2010

The Arts and the Incarnation

As we move closer to the Christmas Season, I always find myself meditating on the mystery and the glory of the Incarnation.  God becomes flesh.  And not just that - He goes so far through His Holy Spirit to dwell in us!  On the one hand this seems metaphysically outrageous, religious nonsense.  On the other hand, it is actually our only hope - "Christ in us, the hope of glory" (see the entire argument in Colossians 1:13-27). 

This makes the Incarnation a missional move by God, Who employs the incarnation to rescue and ransom His beloved.  The implications of this, when married with Christ's mandate to "seek first the Kingdom of God", are that incarnational and missional living is what we were born for, what we were created to do, and as such, are never more God-like ourselves than when we emulate Him by living accordingly. 

I have often wondered (I guess because my mind works this way!), who "proclaimed" the better sermons - Billy Graham, or Mother Theresa.  This may seem a non-sequitur, but the question begs a deeper truth.  Proclamation is not only a matter of verbal message - Christ is the Word and the Image of the Invisible God, and we are to follow in His steps, not only intellectual collections of correct doctrine, but also living and breathing imitations of Jesus who care, cry, bleed, pray, worship, live, and die.

"The historic argument for the use of the arts in worship is grounded in the Incarnation. The claim is that God, by becoming a person, sanctified physical and material reality as a vehicle for spiritual presence. He comes to us through flesh and blood. Why, then, shouldn't we accept appropriate art forms as visible means through which we offer our praise?"

Robert Webber, Worship Is a Verb: Celebrating God's Mighty Deeds of Salvation (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishing, 1992), 12-13.

Oct 6, 2010

Is What You're Living For Worth Dying For?

One of the main highlights of our Tour in Germany this past summer, was doing a Wear The Crown concert for close to 8,500 young people in Aidlingen, Germany near Stuttgart.    The concert starts with a butterfly, signifying a new-born believer opening her wings and trying out her new-found faith, only to be sorely tempted by Materialism and Narcissism, and then re-focused to draw near to the Cross of Christ.

As my team and I have brought this message all over the world, many times I actually sense the enemy saying to me, "Bill, you are getting WAY to radical here.  Lighten up!"  Such a challenge to put before folks:  Is What You're Living For Worth Dying For?  But the the voice of the martyrs cries out to us - louder - more compelling -  not to guilt us as we look upon the death and torture, but rather, to challenge us to step up to the same bar, and make the same investment and commitment.

I am totally convinced that a person will never know why they are alive, unless the purpose for their life is wrapped up in God's purposes for the world.  One of my favorite sayings, (and something I must always keep telling myself) is, He has no fear who has nothing to lose.  I also firmly believe that I'll never really start understanding, until I start obeying.  Shall we "die" together my friends?

Oct 4, 2010

The Lock and The Door


The young woman looked at her painting, and wondered,  "How could God ever use this?"  Being in a Muslim country with a team of visual artists, she had been struggling to render the concept they had been asked to paint:  "I am the door", those beautiful words of Jesus that invite us to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. But she had painted a lock.  The heavy, massive medieval kind, that looked impenetrable and imposing.  How could this communicate – how could God take that which she really hadn't painted all that well in her opinion, and use it for His glory?

The old man strolled slowly through the open-air art gallery that had suddenly appeared in the plaza.  He surveyed the beautiful pictures of doors and gates.  But there was one, a lock.  He stood stunned, as the revelation hit him – someone had just painted his life, his longing, his desperate condition of being locked out from the light.  Light that he just knew was there for him, but had been so elusive in his own religious tradition.  He knew in the moment he saw the painting, that the artist who painted it had the insight and wisdom he had been seeking his entire life.

The young woman approached the old man, and through interpretation asked him why he was staring spellbound at her meager painting.  Through tears, the man said to her, "My entire life I have felt locked out from all God had for me.  I can see it through the keyhole, but I can't get to it.  Can you please tell me, what is the key that will unlock the door of my life, and let me run into the light of God?"  The young woman at that moment had the privilege of sharing the love of Christ, right there on the sidewalk.  The Holy Spirit had used her humble painting to unravel this man's heart, and draw him to the Father heart of God.

Sep 8, 2010

Authentic Faith

"A truly great preacher isn't someone with a seminary degree who explains the gospel. 
It's someone who is the gospel." 
- Ian Morgan Cron

"Little Children, let us not love merely in theory or in speech but in deed and in truth, in practice and in sincerity."
- John the Apostle  (1 John 3:18 [amplified])

"Brothers and Sisters in Christ, let us not be known merely for great programs, facilities, music, and messages, but rather for the authentic love of Jesus that we show not only to one another, but to our neighbors, and to our enemies."
- BD

Aug 30, 2010

In The Blink of an Eye

Teri and I were returning to Atlanta last week after saying "goodbye" to our youngest, Sharayah at a University up North.  Driving southbound on US Highway 29, just outside of Gretna, Virginia,  we encountered a pretty steady rain, and drove on cautiously. 

I noticed a truck coming up fast on my left in the fast lane, and I was struggling to see through the thick spray he was putting up as he went past - when I saw it - a red car, eerily turning end over end in our lane - as if in slow motion - twisting straight for us through the mist!

Both the truck and I braked hard, and veered to the right to pull over as the red car flipped it's fourth and final time and came crashing down on the guard rail.  It had been coming from the other direction (northbound), hydroplaned, lost control and veered right across the grassy median, launched into the air in a twisting motion as it hit the hard edge of the southbound lane.

The driver of the truck immediately got out  and raced to the red car - I put on my hazards to warn the traffic that was coming up behind me, and then drove cautiously around the truck to see if I could help.  The truck driver had helped a young woman out of the car, and she was kneeling in the hard rain on the asphalt as the trucker (he turned out to be an extremely capable EMT) held her there while he finished with his 911 call.

I opened up the side door of our van, and asked him if it was OK for him to let the frightened girl into our van and out of the rain.  He was glad to, and then proceeded to check her for any broken bones, and any other trauma.  It turned out that her airbags and seat belt probably saved her life - the car was totaled, and yet there wasn't a scratch on her.  The trucker said it was a miracle she wasn't hurt, and told the girl that "the good Lord was surely looking out for you today."  Teri consoled her, and we ended up praying with her after the trucker left to liaise with the Highway Patrol and the Ambulance.

It was sobering to discover that this young girl was also on her way up to start College, and she was only a year older than Sharayah.  It was a bit unnerving to see played out before our eyes just how fast things can go wrong.  But it was a huge blessing to be able to be there for someone in a time of crisis, to console, help her dry off, put a warm blanket over, and pray for her well-being and thank God for His protection - and thereby truly be reminded that God has His eye on our daughter as well, and therefore know that we can trust that He will provide the angels and/or people to be there in her moment of need when we can't be.

Aug 10, 2010

Imagination becomes Incarnate

Pass through, pass through the gates!
       Prepare the way for the people.
       Build up, build up the highway!
       Remove the stones.
       Raise a banner for the nations.

               - Isaiah 62:10

The artist sat listening to the message, but could sit no longer.  Compelled by the truth of the Scripture, and moved by the image that was bursting forth on his imagination, he positioned the blank canvas, took up the laden brush, and began to illuminate that which had been unseen.

And as the imagination became incarnate, the tapestry of ideas unfolding on the canvas, the Scriptural hope began to take shape - the work is enjoined, the rubble confronted, the path restored; all the while the "blueprint" of the future left shimmering just behind the current task, awaiting final fulfillment.

And the enemy, also hovering, lurking, waiting for an opportunity to "steal" the word of truth from the artisan - but he will not be dissuaded.  

Is was sheer joy to watch this painting come to life at our SALT conference this July in Rome, Italy.  There was much that came to light, as Arts Champions from all over Europe came together for a training, an envisioning, a sharpening, an empowering, and a validating experience that we in OM will feel the impact of for some time to come.

A story is told of an inquirer who visited a stone quarry, in order to plumb the hearts and minds of the workers there.  He asked one man, "What are you doing here"?  The man responded, "What does it look like?  I am hewing rocks out of this quarry."  The same question was put to a second, and he replied, "I am earning an honest day's wage."  A third worker was engaged with the same question, and he gave a response that revealed a panoramic understanding of what was really going on.  "What are you doing here?" came the question.  "I am building a cathedral!" came the reply, pregnant with hope, vision, and personal ownership.

And of such is the Kingdom of God.

Aug 1, 2010

"...sleeping in the basement..."

Here is a brilliant quote from Ian Morgan Cron, that I got from a wonderful German friend who got it from another dear South African friend:

"The church is realizing that there is an awareness of God sleeping in the basement of the postmodern imagination and they have to awaken it. The arts can do this. All beauty is subversive, it flies beneath the radar of people's critical filters and points them to God.  As a friend of mine says. 'when the front door of the intellect is shut, the back door of the imagination is open.'  Our neglect of the power of beauty and the arts helps explain why so many people have lost interest in the church. Our coming back to the arts will help renew this interest."

Taken from his book, "Chasing Francis", which sheds new light on the legacy of St. Francis of Assisi, the above quote speaks prophetically to today's church about the critical role of beauty, the arts, and the imagination when it comes to influencing culture.  In his book, Cron masterfully weaves actual accounts from the life of Saint Francis' into the fictional story of Chase Falson, a New England minister on a pilgrimage to regain his faith. It's an amazing story with profound implications for the contemporary church.

The parallel between the way St. Francis influenced culture (an influence that is still felt today) and the way the arts influence culture, is the incarnational aspect to the way they communicate - by putting action, or form, embodiment or melody to His revelation.  The sooner the church begins to re-employ the God-given creativity He gave to man to illuminate His goodness and truth, the sooner the church can hope to reclaim the cultural megaphone.

Jul 23, 2010


Seeing Rome for the first time in person was nothing short of a surreal experience.  Just laying eyes on the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter's Basilica, and walking where Pontiffs and Caesars walked and all that represented sent me into a conflicted spin that I am still pondering.  The beauty, the wealth, the idolatry, the artistry, the heritage - I chose to experience it as best I could, and consciously decided to weigh it all out later.  It's five days later, and I still am.

I was also well aware, that underneath the cobblestones, was another reality, memorials to Christian history, hidden beneath in the catacombs, a testimony to the price believers in Christ were willing to pay in an empire that was bound and determined to crush them, and a legacy of stalwart commitment to Christ regardless of cost to self.  What a noble heritage.

Below is a link to a video that is well-worth watching - a video on civil disobedience.  I have personally subscribed to the "Manhatten Project" because I not only have incredible respect for Chuck Colson, but because I agree whole-heartedly with what it says, and what these guys are trying to do.  The fact that here in America, we would set aside a national holiday to honor an African American Baptist-pastor/martyr who totally subscribed to Civil Disobedience is actually an encouragement to me, and this 6 minute video lays out very well what may be facing us in the future.  Have a look - it's quite compelling.  This kind of thing is in our heritage too, whether 40 years ago, or 2,000.

Jul 2, 2010

2010 Hungary Tour Thoughts

Just got back from Hungary - wow - amazing trip!  Saw God "show up" in so many amazing ways, for our team, and those we came to ministry to!  And isn't that the way of God, to be so efficient as to bring us to bring a blessing to others in order to bring a blessing back to us so we can bring a blessing back to those who sent us.

There are still so many stories, photos, and memories to ponder, but here are a few snapshots of what God did:

- Team Unity off the chart - God took 26 of us and made us "His Community of Mission and Light" in two days time!
- Over 20 Hungarian Children indicated that they would surrender to Jesus as Lord of their lives in the VBS at Esztergom.
- Leading Slovakian people to Christ in the City Square in Sturovo, Slovakia, during and after the open-air concert
- Worshiping in the rain in Baja, Hungary - again!  (we did that last year too!!!)
- Playing a concert at the Calvary Chapel, Budapest - again!  What an awesome church and people, and what a privilege to worship with them again!  Here is a link to view that concert which was recorded live - <http://www.golgota.tv/?p=18471>
- Doing the first ever Christian Concert event of its kind in Kalouca, Hungary, and leading people to Christ on the street and in the Café afterwards!

Stay tuned for more stories and photos!

Yours for the Kingdom,

Bill Drake
Director, OM Arts International
Operation Mobilization

"Risks are not to be evaluated in terms of the probability of success, but in terms of the value of the goal".  - Ralph D. Winter

Jun 5, 2010

The Divine Embrace

Reading through some of my wife's notes the other day on a book she was reading about the cross, I began to get that "blessed agitation" that comes from a song idea being born.  The ideas she was reading were about Jesus' substitutionary death for us, and the specific ways in which His blood was shed - blood from His sweat, the back, the brow, the hands, the feet, the side - and the devotional thoughts and personal applications that came from that - He has me covered, head to toe!   And everything in between - thoughts, works, travels, emotions, etc. etc.  Wow.

And then the song began to be born.  But it wasn't until the middle of the tour in Germany that it really played out.  Here are the lyrics - 23rd draft!  It is still a work in progress, but I wanted to share it with you:

May 29, 2010

The Underestimated Sacramental Power of Unity

Given that in John 17 we get to listen in to Jesus High Priestly prayer for us concerning our Unity, it is interesting to me that we don't see this highlighted more in sermons, books, and prayers.  The promise is clear:  "May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me", and the implication in the next few verses is that this desired unity points directly to God's Glory.  That being the case, it is totally worth striving for, considering the enormity of what is at stake in our worship and in witness.

This was beautifully illustrated for 10 of us recently in the Bill Drake Band Tour of Germany, May 2010.  For 19 days we toured Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.  We diligently protected our unity in prayer, worship, devotion, and attitude to such an extent, that in all honestly, not once during the entire tour did any of us have a single argument, harsh word, or terse disagreement.  The results were physically tangible.