Although the primary view has been that only medical students and teachers are useful overseas, missionaries said that’s beginning to change. Creativity is becoming a new tool for evangelism – and missionaries said that is extremely effective.
Two missionaries working with Africa Inland Mission (AIM) – who cannot be named because of the nature of their ministry – said that creative art opens doors for evangelism. Students have opportunities to build relationships with people through things such as theatre, dance and even film, they said.
“When you connect through the art it just gives you a natural way to share,” one of the missionaries said.
The other missionary, who has a master’s degree in theatre, said some countries only have creative access, meaning Christians are not allowed to enter the country as part of an identified evangelical group. Many countries don’t want proselytizers, he said.
“For missions, (art) can be a frontline thing,” the missionary said. “(Artists) are going to be the people who can actually go to the front lines and be where the lost people are.”
Kelsey Wales, a missions coach with The Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM), said people often hear only about education- or medical-related missions because those missions’ goals – meeting physical needs – are straightforward.
Missionaries know how to provide people with the urgent care and resources they need, but creative missions are more open-ended, she said. For example, students may teach art, perform or just create alongside others to share the gospel.
The ultimate goal of missions is to love other people, Wales said. She said students can do that in an abundance of ways.
Those who have a heart for music can easily build relationships with others who enjoy music, and those who love painting can connect with other artists. Wales said that any passion can be used to share faith in Christ.
The AIM missionaries said internships are the way to start. The missionaries said Operation Mobilization Arts offers short- and long-term creative arts internships overseas. Students can find more information by going to http://www.omusa.org/go.
Cedarville is in the process of bringing one of TEAM’s outreaches to students, hopefully by 2016, said Ellen Hanson, an administrative assistant for Global Outreach. Wales said students who participate would go to Thailand for a few weeks and connect with the Thai culture. TEAM’s ministry began with a few Christians reaching out to Buddhist monks who enjoy painting and playing classical guitar, she said.
A student only needs three things to be ready to go on a missions trip, Wales said: a humble heart, a teachable spirit and the capacity to work well with others. She said students who don’t feel called to go overseas can still help by spreading the word about missions opportunities to their friends.
“We need to do our art all over the world for the sake of Jesus,” said the AIM missionary. “We will not be afraid. We will take this message to the ends of the earth.”
Laura Ullom is a freshman English and Spanish major and arts and entertainment writer for Cedars. She enjoys creating and solving riddles and playing the occasional game of chess.