Incarnate alumni are scattered all over the world! Their experience and stories are profound. But don’t just take our word for it—read for yourself!
Carly, a dancer from Canada writes:
“The primary reason I chose to attend Incarnate  was that I always had an interest in using my passion and gift for dance in a missions and outreach setting. I just had no idea how to go about doing it. Not many organizations use art in this specific capacity, let alone train the artist in how to do it.
I knew that OM had a history of using the arts and that they would teach and train with excellence. It was also an intense time of seeking God for what He wanted to do next with my life. This programme came almost out of nowhere for me and was the last thing I had on my radar at the time, but as soon as I saw the description I knew that was where I had to be next. God’s surprises are always the best.
During the training the most impactful and helpful was the ability to practice my craft in a mission-minded setting. It was so freeing to be able to create with a group of like-minded artists all learning and growing together. During those three months in Italy, I felt more like myself then I had in years. The time we were given as students to reflect and to really wrestle with the ‘why’ of our art form, and the impact it can have on the culture around us, was eye opening. The balance between intentional art making and Spirit-led art making was great and helped me to grow tremendously as an artist. The ‘Hero’s Journey’ aspect of the course allowed me to really stretch myself and seek the Lord more deeply than I had in a long time. The intense focus of spiritual development, coupled with the ability to express what I was learning through my art form, was at times difficult, but very healing. I came out of it feeling more whole.
The biggest impact the school had on me overall was that I left knowing without a doubt that my art has great value in the eyes of the Creator, that I can embrace the artistic sensibilities placed in me by my Heavenly Father. I was born to be an artist.
Since graduating, my experience in Italy is always on my mind. I have not had as much art-making time as I would like to, but I have been keeping up my instrument with more care then I have in some time. My experience in Italy has changed my mind about where I want my focus to be. I have much learning and growing and seeking to do to see where God wants me next. But I can’t get away from the fact that I am an artist and it is my job to use my art form in whatever capacity that may be. I am looking forward to seeing where I am headed next.”
Daniel, a singer/songwriter from Singapore, attended Incarnate’s pilot programme in 2012. During the eleven week programme, he wrote home about his experience:
“We live in an age where the medium of outreach is media. Artists are now given a voice, and for the first time in decades, the arts have become relevant in the mission field again. However, we must be careful not to do what I refer to as ‘doorway art,’ which is to decorate the doorway of the kingdom of God rather than to reflect the need of having a relationship with the God of all creation, with all its pain and struggle.
“Here at Incarnate, they are giving us insight as to how to become an incarnate artist. The ultimate incarnation was when Christ became flesh (“The Word became flesh”); that means He was relevant, relational, and authentic.
“Such must be an incarnate artist. It was here that I realized what opportunities [my church] offers artists to use their art for God; not in a controlling way, but free with reasonable and responsible accountability. This is rare, and if there are any young artists reading this, I encourage you to appreciate and esteem the church.
“But the most encouraging and refreshing realization was that God Himself is an artist and actually appreciates beauty - yes, art can be worship. Bezalel was filled with the Spirit and commissioned to do ‘artistic designs.’ We find it hard to apply and fully grasp that our God is a God who has a heart for creation—that our God delights in beauty.
“To be an incarnate artist, we must understand that God delights in our art as we do it with a spirit of excellence and a heart of worship. Our art can be worship, not just a tool. There is a whole new realm of possibilities with the arts. We don’t have to do ‘Christian’ music to be an incarnate artist; it doesn’t make you an incarnate artist any more than going to church makes you a Christian.
“I have found new value in my art because it is authentic. I’ve been writing much about the beauty and brokenness in my walk with God. As such, my time here, above giving me new insight and skills with how to relate to other cultures and make my art relevant, has given me new drive and passion for the mission arts arena.”
“The Tree Beyond the Fire,” an album Daniel wrote and recorded during his time at Incarnate 2012, can be heard or purchased here, along with his newer albums.
Praise God for the opportunity he had to attend Incarnate 2012 and for his growing understanding of what it means to be an incarnate artist in our world today.
Grace was seeking and praying for a community of people dedicated to their craft, and creating art as a spiritual offering to our God. She attended the pilot of Incarnate in 2012. Grace writes:
“The opportunity to attend Incarnate  came at the time I was nearing the end of my Discipleship Training School with YWAM. I was looking for places in mission that used the arts in a profound way.
“There are so many aspects of the training that all together made a significant impact. Mostly I learned about living in a God-centred artistic community. Our days were spent worshipping, learning, philosophizing, creating, dialoguing, and dreaming. My being was changed by each person I met. As a result of the teaching, my soul was worked and my perspective on the role of the artist in the church and in the world expanded.
“[The] introduction of numerous spiritual disciplines challenged me. I particularly remember our meals of silence with a smile. I also remember being very emotional over the study of the Father. Through all this soul working, it was good to have someone [available] to talk it over one-on-one with. I especially loved our Sabbath services; it is rare for me to be a part of a community that was so intentional about the Sabbath. I really appreciate this spiritual practice. I also really liked going through the book Beauty of God and the dialogue generated by the readings. At the end, when it was time for our final exhibit, it was such a pleasure to invite our new Italian friends to see the art we had made, inspired by the place they lived. We offered our best to them and all were blessed by that time.
“Since graduating from Incarnate, my heart longs to disciple artists and to expand my community of faith's understanding of the value of the arts in the church and in the world. I am bringing the teaching I learned at Incarnate to a small group and we are applying what we are learning to our city. In my life, I now set intentions to create with an attitude of worship rather than to finish a project or a deadline.”
Satu, a musician from Finland writes:
“In February 2014 I was adjusting to spending a few months of my life in the little Italian Alpine village of Bobbio Pellice, attending Incarnate 2014. After this, I would join OM Belgium to work on a field for a little while. Little did I know the effect Incarnate and my time in Belgium would have on my life.
“A year later, looking back, it has been an intense season packed with life- changing experiences; time filled with challenges and victories, serving God in different settings, new people, cultures, languages, places, changes outside and inside, lessons learned and others on their way to be realized.
“Before I left home my prayer was: ‘God bring clarity to my calling,’ and He has most certainly done this. OM Arts training Incarnate 2014 truly had a positive impact on my life. I was discipled, mentored, and encouraged as an artist and as a daughter of God. I learned to compose. I got to work with dancers. I saw how visual artists work. I got to use my spiritual gifts, and bless people through the music I made. I experienced being a blessing and want to continue seeking this as a lifestyle - pursuing faithfulness in whatever God brings to me – in small and big things. I am more at peace. He is my shepherd, provider and keeper.
“In Belgium I got to experience firsthand how arts and missions look in post-modern Europe. I was also exposed to the idea of ‘being missional where ever I am at’ – which is currently what I feel like I should seek to do. After two months it was time to return to Finland; I felt the need to stay at home for a while. After getting back from my travels, and graduating from my tourism studies, I took some time to reflect on everything I had learned.
“I’ve felt that God’s call on my life during this season is to rest, prepare and gather strength for the future ministry that He has planned for me. To let everything that I learned find its proper place and become integrated as a part of me. I have also been looking into options of using arts in a ministry context and keep praying for guidance in that.
“So am I a missionary? Shall I leave Finland again? Shall I serve my own people or another nation?
“I think I am on a journey to find my identity first and foremost as a child of God, and as His disciple. All in all I think I am more equipped to serve where I am at, and whenever God calls me to move, I certainly will – and if He calls me to stay, that I will do. In this liminal space I have learned to trust more in His guidance and leading of the Holy Spirit.”
Satu composed a suite of music during Incarnate 2014, which was then choreographed and danced during Incarnate 2014’s Arts Festival. Watch and listen to it here.
“As I walked down a country road at 2am on a clear and cold Canadian winter’s night, I opened my arms and looked to the sky and asked God, ‘Should I go to Incarnate 2014!?’ That same night God made it clear to me that I should go. The next thing I knew, I was nestled in a small village in the Italian Alps, about to have my world vibrantly enhanced. [Incarnate 2014 was held in Bobbio Pellice, Italy]
“I had previously done a short term mission with OM Arts, but still only had a loose grip on what it was all about. The time at Incarnate was very beautiful in many ways—artistically, spiritually, and in personal growth— and the setting was visually stunning.
“Since my time at Incarnate 2014, I now have a much deeper and greater understanding of God’s strategic purpose for the arts in the restoration of His creation. I now understand ‘Christian art’ is not just a picture with a cross in it. But art that is Christian is a very effective way of sharing the gospel. When people prayerfully engage in creating art, God bypasses their self-erected barriers as they begin to ask questions.
“Aside from this, I also have a greater understanding of myself, my artist tendencies, and what a true missions team looks and feels like. I learned how to hear God more effectively. And I now have a world-wide family.
“During the 3 months at Incarnate I heard from God more times than the rest of my life combined! You might say that I walked into Incarnate 2014 with a palette full of greys and unsaturated colour, and I walked away with tubes of vibrant colour to use for the rest of my life, to give back to God.”
Click here to view some of the art Curtis produced during Incarnate 2014.