Jen came from America on a USA Trek to join the Arts Release team. ‘I’d known for a long time that God was taking me into mission,’ she says.
‘The most wonderful thing about being part of Arts Release is seeing people have that “Aha!” moment. People or even whole cultures who have in the past been closed to the gospel open up to the arts. They start to engage, ask questions about God, and hear the gospel in terms they can understand. The arts are a way for believers to express themselves, too, and to reach out to the community around them.
‘I first came across Arts Release in 2011 when I did a Short Term Mission trip to England and France. During that time, I fell in love with this kind of ministry. It suits my background in music and teaching, and I just love seeing people express themselves to God. On my current placement, I’ve learned more about cross-cultural arts and worship and I’m being trained to use my skills to share more effectively in this kind of work.
‘One of the best experiences of my year so far has been the Greenbelt festival. People there appreciate unorthodox approaches to the gospel, so it’s a great place to bring in multi-cultural worship. A team of us went to Greenbelt in August and led a session of Indian-style worship, with songs in Hindi and Sanskrit, scripture readings and some other ethnic worship practices. It was amazing. People who would never otherwise access Indian culture encountered God through this totally new approach to worship. There was an incredible atmosphere of reverence in the venue.
People who would never otherwise access Indian culture encountered God through this totally new approach to worship.
‘There have been a few challenges, too. When you go on mission, you don’t just leave yourself at home; all your problems come with you. For example, I suffer from clinical depression. I’ve struggled with this for a long time and it’s part of my life journey. In some ways it might even make me more useful to God. I wanted to learn to handle my problems while serving God – I can’t just go running home when things get hard – and it’s turned out OK. I was open with my team about my health problems from the start and they’ve been really supportive.
‘And the future? I feel God wants me in mission long term and there’s a good chance I’ll go to Japan at some point. Arts and community are very important there, so they can be a very powerful way of contextualising the gospel. I’m tempted to make a five-year plan, but I’m consciously stepping back from that; I want to hear what God has to say. Do I want to stay with WEC? Join the candidacy programme? That would be the next logical step. But it’s about the kingdom of God, not what seems logical to me. And there’s no rush to make a decision. I’m OK with not knowing exactly when and where.’
Find out more about our Arts Release ministry
Arts Release seeks to help believers all over the world to use their own art-forms to shape their communication and worship.
To this end, Arts Release seeks to train and mobilise:
- People who are already gifted in arts – music, drama, storytelling, dance and visual art – for cross-cultural mission.
- Musicians and churches in multicultural worship.
- Arts Release offers internships, Short Term Mission and long term placements.
We need you to get involved
Are you gifted in art, music, dance or drama? Explore how you can use your gifts for cross-cultural mission.