Saturday, October 1, 2011

When Art Is A Call For Justice

I don't consider myself much of an artist, but I've decided to take on an art project to use at our annual Pursue Missions Conference.  This conference is kind of my second baby - the Lord spoke to me very clearly several years ago that one of my purposes was to be someone who gets missions & justice in the hearts of West Texans.  I've learned over the years that I can't place anything into another's heart...but I can do my best to stir up thoughts - to expose people to stories of injustice and hope - for those stories make a lasting impact in the heart.

This year at Pursue the theme is FOCUS - I feel like there are so many causes and so many voices clamoring for our attention that we do one of two things - we either shut down because the voices cause us to feel helpless...we feel like we can't really make an impact in any of the areas where need is great, so instead we become paralyzed and don't try to make any dent...OR we try to give to every voice that we hear, which in turn leaves us feeling stretched and ineffective.  As I prayed this year about our annual conference, all I could think about what a statement that Keith Wheeler (a missionary who carries the cross) would say in college.

Ministry is nothing more than an overflow of Jesus' love in my heart.  

As I thought on that became clear to me that my small efforts are most effective when they come out of a heart that is full of His love.  It is when I know that I am loved by Him...when I see His grace at work in my own life that I am most aware of injustice in this world.  It is then that I want others to experience that love...that grace...that joy.  It is then that my efforts are most sincere and beautiful.

And so this year we are focusing - Focusing on Him & then trying to help others actually focus on what they can do - the simple and the complex...the small and the big...the prayers and the gifts...the overflow of love.

I am a big believer is using all sorts of methods to get stories and this message of focus into hearts.  I came up with the idea that this year we would take photographs from all over the world that have a story - we have blown them up into huge portraits & we are asking people to turn them into art - to say something with the picture...

And this brings me back to where I began - my art project this weekend.

I'm taking this picture - it's a picture that I personally took 4 years ago in India.  I was at a school with 4 years olds and I couldn't help but notice that this beautiful small girl had feet that were painted red.  Her little toes were barefoot in the school in the middle of the slum & her ankles sang with each step she took as the anklets she wore jingled.

I pulled aside one of our contacts from India and inquired as to why her feet were painted red.

It's a sign that she has been married to another.  I shook my head in disbelief certain that I had misheard, but my fears were confirmed - at the age of 4 this small girl had been given to another in marriage - for reasons unknown to us.  Perhaps because it was a way to align the family with another or because of religious insistence.  The contact assured me that she was not living this marriage out, but that she would be given to this person she did not know as an early age - her life...her path was determined at the age of 4.

I took a picture of those beautiful feet and this picture has hung in my office from that day forward - a reminder to pray for this one and so many like her...girls in India - precious girls who's lives feel hopeless - that they would meet the author of hope.  That the color red would take on new meaning one day - that their feet...and their hearts would encounter the red blood of Jesus that covers all.

And so, I'm looking at this giant picture of red feet & asking Jesus how to send a message with this art piece.  I feel as though I'm to put scriptures and prayers around her feet (hopefully it will seem artistic) but mostly I want them to be a declaration of hope over her life...

And here is where I would love your help.  Would you share in the comments section scriptures or prayers that are on your heart?  Perhaps they are directed at this young woman or perhaps for the injustice that this one story stirs.  I want to use thoughts beyond my own to paint a picture of God's hope for this life.

As a thank you for sharing, I will draw one name from everyone who comments and send you a matted picture of these beautiful feet so you too can remember to pray.


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