Nov 4, 2018

The Art of Communication

I am blessed to be able to share with you this beautiful story coming with Taiwan, about how God used some of our Incarnate 2018 Graduates in a powerful way in Taiwan, to communicate some of the deeper truths we hold in the Kingdom of God.


OM International | Taiwan

In May 2018, OM Taiwan received three Christian visual artists from the U.S.A., East Asia and Hong Kong. Before they came, they had received a three-months training in Italy with OM Arts Incarnate – where they lived with various Christian artists from all over the world and learnt how to exercise their artistic gifts for the Lord.

After the training, they stayed for one month in Tong Luo, a Hakka town. In Taiwan, the Hakka people are considered least reached, with only a 0.2% evangelical Christian population. The artists were asked to create artwork which reflected the characteristics of the Hakka people as well as Christian values. By connecting with locals, the artists were able to find some cultural Hakka elements to include in their artwork. These pieces were pulled together in an art exhibition at the Tong Luo train station – the most populated public area in the small town.

The main purpose of the exhibition was to reach out to those who did not know Christ. The OM team had never done a one-week long event in the train station, and were not sure if the permission would be granted to do so. Surprisingly, when they met the train station master, he did not ask too many questions. Within only a few minutes, the permission was given for the exhibition. The OM team believes that it was God who opened the door for the event to happen in that location.

'What is home?'

These three artists have different artistic styles. Jane* from East Asia creates artwork using languages and words. One of her pieces was to separate Hakka into "Hak" and "Ka", which in Mandarin can mean 'guest' and 'home.' Then she wrote 'What is home?' and 'What does it mean to be a guest?' on a large sheet of paper. Many visitors came and left their comments. One uncle wrote, "I am a Hakka. I eat my dinner and watch TV every night." A team member wondered why he wrote this because it didn't seem to have anything to do with being Hakka. The elderly man explained that his children all work in other cities, his wife passed away a few years ago, and therefore, every night he watches TV together with the photo of his deceased wife and has his meal all by himself. He expressed his deep feelings towards the words 'guest' and 'home' because even though physically he was at home, emotionally he felt like a guest. This man visited the team every day during the exhibition to chat with them. Through these conversations the team learnt to deeply feel and identify with the loneliness of the elderly in the community.


Sherrie from the U.S.A. often projects her own situation and feelings into her work. In this exhibition, she decided to use 3-D abstract objects to express her concept. Sherrie grew up in the U.S.A. as a second-generation Taiwanese descendant as both her parents are Taiwanese. She created an artwork named 'Conversation.' She explained that in Chinese society, it is quite difficult to have a real conversation within families. Even though parents love their children, they seldom express their love verbally. In her piece, she reflected that people should strip away their pride and societal norms and allow God to give the courage to be real and talk to each other. Her artwork reflected the family situation of the town because many parents work in other cities and leave their children with the grandparents. Grandparents usually express their love to their grandchildren by providing for their material needs but are not good at conversing with them; seldom expressing their love verbally. Sherrie's artwork was something that the younger generation could easily identify with.

'Guest Postcard'

Amy from Hong Kong created an artwork named 'Guest Postcard.' She, as a guest in the town, invited locals to sit down at a table and share their Hakka stories with her. After that, Amy would make a hand drawn postcard according to what they shared and mail the postcard to them from Hong Kong. However, the project did not go well at first because people did not have the time to stay long. So Amy adapted and had visitors share their stories, and then select a prayerfully pre-prepared painted postcard in an envelope. People then opened the postcard and miraculously, almost all the visitors got one that matched their stories. The team believed that it was the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

A retired elementary school principal came to the exhibition and was amazed when she got a picture of many chairs lined up in a queue just like in a school setting. Amy explained the meaning of the postcard to the principal: That the chairs symbolised children waiting for help, and whoever choose this card would be the one who helped them. The principal responded that it was exactly her situation. This principal is not a Christian yet, but has partnered with the OM team for campus ministry for many years. She helped them expand the ministry among other schools. Last year she retired and the team has been praying that God would continue to use her in new ways; most importantly that God would draw her close to Himself.

Leading people to the truth

Artists often use metaphors to express their ideas and look at things from different perspectives. Their artwork helps people think deeper into the reality behind the surface. Even though the artwork itself is not a direct communication, it provides many interactive opportunities for the communicators and visitors do not feel they are forced to listen to a lecture. Instead, they take the initiative to interact with the artwork and chat with the creators. In this exhibition, the OM team had many chances to share the gospel and their own personal testimonies with visitors. One said "We experienced how Art combined with the Word of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit can lead people to the Truth."

*name changed

Published: Thursday, 01 November 2018
Credit: OM International
© 2018 OM International 

Aug 27, 2018

Something Old, Something New

A very cool thing, 25 years in the making, happened yesterday in Ujpalota (Wee-pal-oat-a = "New Palace) a suburb of Budapest, Hungary.


The Pastor there, Gabor, met us with such enthusiasm!  We found out that he had been following OM for many years.  He is the man who discipled Attila Kapoc, the current Field Leader of Operation Mobilization in Hungary, when Attila first came to Christ many years ago.  Gabor's church building is brand new, and he was so excited to host us in his modern facility.


As he was "briefing" us on the church, the upcoming concert, etc., he pointed us to a shelf that held a "Bill Drake Band" Cassette (!) that he purchased at a Bill Drake Concert in 1993, shortly after the Iron Curtain came down.  He said it was the first contemporary Christian album he had ever bought - and he even had it signed by the author!


It was amazing to see a cassette of mine from 25 years ago, still intact, bearing my signature, and well-worn.  But I was not ready for the "rest of the story", which Gabor shared at the end of our concert when he came forward to wrap everything up.


As the concert was about "Legacy", he got up and shared personally about his own story of following Jesus, and how The Lord called him into the ministry, when he was visiting St. Andrew's in Scotland in 1992.  He returned to Hungary and went into seminary, but found out quickly that it was more like "cemetery", where many men had their faith shipwrecked.  He himself was ready to quit.


Then Gabor was invited to an OM Concert, where he heard an artist called "Bill Drake", and he was captivated by the deeper lyrics translated into Hungarian, and the testimony of a transformed life - from rejection to fatherhood, from suicidal to missionary.  He especially liked the song "I'll Obey and Serve You".  This prompted him not only to buy the cassette, but also to re-commit his life to ministry and pursue the pastorate, regardless of the "hot mess" that the reformed seminary there was or had to offer.


And here we were 25 years later:  the same artist now stood in Gabor's brand new church, where under his leadership, by Hungarian standards we were witnessing nothing short of a miracle - vibrant congregation growing like crazy had built a brand new building for the glory of God to service the local community there in "New Palace".  


And there was Attila, the young man he discipled, now the Leader of OM in Hungary, bringing to Gabor's church the artist Bill Drake who brought Gabor the song that encouraged him to recommit his life to following his dream of being a Pastor one day - all in the same building.  The convergence was nothing short of God-wrought.


The concert went extremely well.  The Gospel was preached, people were impacted, tears were shed - all in all an awesome experience.  But I walked away in dumb-struck awe, at how the God of the Universe rolled back the curtain for just a moment, for me to see how a difficult trip from England to Hungary in 1993, had a significant role at a critical juncture in this Pastor's life, which ended up discipling the future leader of OM in Hungary, and leading to his building of a church and a congregation that is making huge impact in this part of Budapest.


What is so cool about this Brian, is that you are part of this - I would never have been able to go, if you guys were not supporting us, holding the lifeline, in prayer, in finance, and in partnership on the Mission Field, wherever God calls us to go.


So thank you.  And thank you from Pastor Gabor.  The look on his face when I presented him with the brand new CD that has the new version of "I'll Obey And Serve You" on it - was priceless (Legacy – The Mission).  He beamed, full of joy, as obviously the Lord reminded him again that He holds all of these things in His hands, and nothing we do for the Lord goes un-noticed.  Hallelujah!