How creative arts can make a difference in missions
Sylvia Sun // May 20, 2020, 10:10 am
All pictures courtesy of Sylvia Sun.
At the age of 29, I left my financially stable, promising job as a Senior Executive, and embarked on a one-year mission trip to a creative-access nation.
While many (jokingly) said I was late to the game, I knew clearly that I had never been more prepared.
I grew up on the stage and had always enjoyed being involved in creative arts. Those years cemented my belief that art is one of the best ways to convey a message. And ever since I became a Christian, I took it upon myself to be a good steward of the talent God gave me and use it effectively for His kingdom’s cause – a decision which shaped my education and career paths.
God had also been preparing me in Victory Family Centre, where we are encouraged to go for a one-year missions programme. I have always wanted to serve in the mission field, simply because we are called to make disciples of all nations.
I also wanted to push myself out of my own comfort zone, live in a different environment and bring the gospel to a place where people have never heard of Jesus or met Christians.
So my journey serving in a creative-access nation began in December 2017, when my friends and I committed to serve at a missionary-founded language school for one year.
The school is located in a small town which is 8 hours away from the capital. We started out with a student population of 19 students, on the brink of closing down.
Today, the school has a total strength of 80 students and 31 beneficiaries under its community arm.
A little over 2 years later, as I reflect, I am in awe of how God’s divine plan and timing. Here are two things I learnt in my journey serving in a creative-access nation.
1. Obey God’s call
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
Have you ever been in a place where you wondered, “What if I tried?”
Why not take that bold step forward and avail yourself for His kingdom? That was the plunge I made when I first signed up for the one-year mission programme organised by my home church.
Of course, when God gives you a call, He doesn’t say: “Go to the field if you have this (insert 5-figure bank amount), or go to the field if you (insert precondition).”
He says, I am calling you to the field, are you going to answer the call? Yes or no. I knew that if I had decided not to take up the call, God could always choose someone else.
I remember one time when my bank account’s balance fell to a low of three digits. Yet I heard specifically from God that I was to sponsor a child to go to school.
Really? That would mean my bank account’s balance would fall to two digits.
Nevertheless, I quickly called up the parents of the child to inform them that I would sponsor his education.
I knew that if I kept this to myself, I would be negotiating in my head and might end up not doing it. But if I informed somebody about it, there would be commitment and accountability in place.
After the call, I went to withdraw the cash while laughing to myself – I never thought this day would come.
About 2-3 weeks later when I logged in to my account, I took a look at my bank account balance.
It had hit four digits!
I found out later that many people decided to do a one-time transfer to my account, some of whom I didn’t even know. Their generosity resulted in the amount in my account.
Through this breakthrough, I was once again reminded that God is my provider and He has always been faithful.
2. Allow yourself to be used
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.” (Zechariah 4:10)
Look at your hands, what God has gifted you with. Your talents, time and energy – no matter how small you think they are – are invaluable in the field.
God will not call you to something and not equip you for it.
In my case, my training and expertise in performing arts helped me to curate character art and drama lessons, with biblical principles creatively weaved into the curriculum.
The community began to see how the students were transformed.
Students who attended the school tend to be more well-behaved. Parents told us that their children were able to control their emotions better. They began to be receptive towards us a Christian-run school and Christians.
This was significant because our community normally avoided being associated with Christians. With this openness, we became able to speak into the lives of the youth and tackle issues like abstinence before marriage and sexual identity, educating them based on biblical principles.
Beyond teaching the English language, the teachers also regularly engage students with song, dance and drama skits.
At the recent end-term concert, our students were equipped to write their own skits and performed in front of their family and friends on the actual day.
To date, we have produced a short film, a 3-part series and several video commercials for the school.
We are holding on to God’s vision steadfastly. At the end, we want to be able to declare: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
It is now my third year here.
They say hindsight is 20/20; I truly am able to see God’s timing and hand in my life. The different kinds of training, job stints and experiences in both ministry and the secular sphere – they all served to prepare me for a season like this.
Wherever you are at right now, always remember that God has a purpose for your life.
He has prepared you for such a time as this.
THINK + TALK
- What are the major gifts, talents and experiences in your life?
- How might God want to use them for His kingdom?
- Read Matthew 28:16-20 and talk to God about what that means for your life.