Major corporations are actively recruiting and hiring creative people as they seek an edge in today’s marketplace. Mission agencies are realizing that to effectively fulfill the Great Commission, the arts and the imagination must play a major role in how the Gospel is communicated.
If you are searching for an opportunity to use your artistic talents in missions, here is a good place to start! Operation Mobilization (OM) is a Christian mission organization that has been sending out missionaries since 1957 on short term missions trips and long term missions trips. Working in over 110 countries, OM was one of the pioneers of the modern day short term missions movement. OM Arts International is a ministry of OM that focuses on mobilizing gifted artists to use their talents to spread the Gospel around the world.
History of arts in missions in OM
The story of OM Arts International and how God has birthed an arts movement in a major missions organization is one of timeliness, opportunity, and convergence.
Operation Mobilization began employing some artistic expressions in their outreaches in the early 1960s and continued to explore ways of ministering through the performing arts in the 1970s, especially in their ships ministry and in India. By the late 1980s, OM’s evangelism ministries in the UK, Belgium and Austria excelled in puppetry, illusion, music and mime respectively, using art on the streets, in schools, and in the marketplace to draw crowds, stimulate conversations, and gain inroads into culture by engaging in appropriate artistic expressions that resonated with the local people. However, with a few exceptions, arts outreach tended to be seasonal (summer), and was employed by a fair number of well-intentioned amateurs, as well as mostly being confined to certain European countries where the leadership in that country was favorable to the arts.
In the early 1990s, there was an influx into OM of gifted artists. Although randomly scattered throughout the OM world, these artists began to make a significant impact. Visual artists based in Vienna were designing coloring and cartoon books for distribution behind the former Iron Curtain.
A jazz fusion team based in Vienna saw Bible studies from their concerts started, leading to the planting of a local church. Mime artists in Belgium were using mime on the street, in churches, and in conferences. Touring musicians based in England began to travel the world presenting the Gospel through Western music and compelling visuals. Workers in Istanbul started a booking agency for Christian rock bands to tour across Turkey and beyond. An ethnodoxologist found ways to engage tribal peoples with the Gospel presented in indigenous and culturally relevant ways.
Through processes that can only be attributed to God’s providence, the majority of these talented artists and their arts ministries relocated to OM USA by the early 2000’s. Some were involved in recruitment, some fund raising and mentoring, and one of them–a professionally trained dancer–began cleaning toilets for the hospitality ministry while awaiting acceptance and opportunities to express her calling through dance ministry. But all of them had maintained an international focus, bringing teams of artists to many different countries of the world, and effectually presenting the Gospel through artistic expression. OM USA, noticing the convergence and seeing that something significant was happening in their midst, reorganized the arts ministries into one department and eventually birthed them into their own international ministry: OM Arts International.
The result has been stunning. In the first two years of its existence, OM Arts International has taken 135 people on 39 short-term arts outreaches in over 25 countries, and has helped place six artists on the field longer term.
Employing the arts, and by raising up and supporting missionary artists, OM Arts International continues to:
- articulate God’s heart for the world
- resource the Church for creative communication
- train Christian artists for mission and ministry
- serve the creative arts and artists around the world.
For more information about OM Arts International:
web site: www.arts.om.org
imagine – illuminate – impact!
OM Arts International is a family of ministries that empowers artists to touch the nations with the message of Jesus Christ, using their creative gifts and talents.
Web site: www.arts.om.org
OM ArtsLink omartslink.org
OM ArtsLink has a passion to see visual artists get involved in the Great Commission by uniquely impacting communities around the globe. This desire has fueled the development of radical overseas opportunities created for visual artists to serve the Church and engage the world.
OM DanceLink omdancelink.org
OM DanceLink desires to train, mentor and send dancers of all skill levels to use their gifts to minister and further God’s kingdom on international and local mission fields.
Heart Sounds International heart-sounds.org
Heart Sounds International ignites culturally relevant and Biblically appropriate worship in places where Christ-followers are restricted, persecuted or unknown.
Bill Drake Band billdrake.com
Bill Drake and team present multimedia concerts with a unique focus. The concerts are not simply about music, but about God and experiencing the reality of Him in your life. The latest release is the “Crowns Experience” which will take you on a journey to help you discover what you are willing to give your life for.
Jon Simpson bugnogmusic.com
Musician, singer, songwriter, dancer, and justice activist, Jon Simpson aims to give glory to God through artistic expression.
World champion unicyclist Dustin Kelm performs and speaks at youth events, outreaches, retreats, camps, festivals, corporate events and school assemblies around the world. With extreme unicycling as his tool, Dustin’s one-of-a-kind performance captivates youth of all ages. He challenges people to make good choices that change their lives, primarily the choice to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.