Each week of the OM Arts International discipleship training programme Incarnate, participants are charged with the task of creating something inspired by a given prompt. At the end of each week participants gather to share the artistic projects they created. Since I was the only writer participating in the program, my assignments tended to differ from those given to the other participants.

In week 6 of 12, the participants were asked to create a confessional piece that sought reconciliation and restoration in a personal relationship or aspect of life, restoration in an aspect of the Italian culture, or any other area of brokenness that comes to mind. As a journalist, my assignment for that week had differed from the others. I was thrilled that I didn’t have to stand up in front of the group and present something so personal.

On Friday morning, we sat down to go through the Creative Review process - where the participants share the pieces they created and the art mentors give feedback. I grabbed a hot cup of coffee and prepared to observe the three-hour-long process.

Have you noticed that missionaries often say that their greatest need is prayer? Artists on mission are no exception.

"Praying for one another is an important part of community. It allows us to walk together as the Body of Christ and stand by one another as children of God," Ned H., an OM volunteer, explains. 

However, praying for the needs of artist missionaries can be difficult if we don’t know what to pray for.

The best thing to do is to ask an artist in ministry how you can specifically be praying for them, however, most artist missionaries have some prayer needs in common prayer.

Here are some ways that artist missionaries serving with OM Arts International have asked that you pray for them, and for other artists like them:

Artists participating in the Incarnate programme were charged with creating a collaborative piece of prophetic art intended to speak to the people of the local community, Isola del Gran Sasso, Italy.

 

Incarnate is a 16-week holistic discipleship programme for artists led by OM Arts International. The first twelve weeks are spent in residence (Incarnate 2016, in Isola del Gran Sasso) and during the last four weeks participants are sent out for a practical placement. The programme is designed for artists who are passionately pursuing God, dedicated to their disciplines and are interested in using their art in cross-cultural missions. Participants engage in artistic and spiritual mentorship, as well as academic courses to learn more about who God is, what role they have in God’s story and, lastly, how they interact as artists with the stories of others worldwide. 

Artists from several disciplines were paired together and, as a group, were challenged to consider what they have observed during the recent months in residence in the small mountain community. 

Photograph: Garrett Nasrallah

ISOLA DEL GRAN SASSO, ITALY – Visual and performing artists presented a display of eclectic works during the international art Festival Week hosted by OM Arts International’s Incarnate programme.

The festival was the culmination of the artists’ hard work while at Incarnate. It was a celebration of the people and the community the artists have been living amongst, and it was a chance for the artists to unveil the work they completed during the programme.

 

Photography: Garrett Nasrallah

When I was a little kid, God spoke to my mom’s friend He told her that I am a ‘dance warrior.’ I didn’t know what that meant, and to be quite honest I thought it was strange. I hadn’t even started dancing yet. During the first week of Incarnate, OM Arts Director Bill Drake told me I am a ‘dance warrior’ and I was shocked! I think that was a long-awaited confirmation of my identity. 

 

 

On a Friday afternoon, all 26 artists from the OM Arts Incarnate training and discipleship programme in Italy loaded up into buses and headed into the nearby town of Isola del Gran Sasso, charged with a united purpose: to cultivate meaningful conversations with the local people.

As part of the Incarnate programme, the artists were asked to intentionally have deep discussions with locals and to create works of art in response to what they experienced. The following stories are just a few of the ways these artist-missionaries were impacted by interacting with local Italians.

 
...and then the angry man punched the Bus Driver in the face...
 
You know, there is only one thing in life that we can control - only one.  And when things don't go the way we like, we still have control of that one thing.  And this became so apparent last Saturday as we prepared to take Incarnate 2016 into Rome for the day.
 
Dileep did his job right, booking 34 bus tickets on the "Express/Roma" bus line, which was to pick all of us up at the end of a lonely off-ramp called "Colledara", just outside of Isola del gran Sasso where we are running Incarnate.  And some of us got up quite early that morning, to wait for the second round of vans to transport us the 4.5 kilometers from our School to the stop.
 
Then the bus pulled up, and 34 of us tried to get on.  Whoops - there were already too many people on the bus!  It seems the driver and his helper had already allowed too many people on who had NOT booked their tickets online or ahead of time, on this bus - after all, this is rural Italia - and the result was chaos.  The poor bus driver kept coming on the bus's little PA system, asking the Italians on board different things (we found out later that it was "scrunch up", or, "Maybe get off if you got on without a ticket", and the final straw for one angry man, "please take all your children off the seats, and put them on your lap now".  We all started to pray.

 

On Saturday, 6 February, OM Arts introduced the locals of Isola del Gran Sasso to Incarnate - a programme dedicated to teaching artists to work in cross-cultural missions. 

“We have these awesome creative people, we’re in this beautiful place and we find ourselves in the midst of people who need Jesus,” said Bill Drake, the director of Incarnate and OM Arts. “It was such a joy to reveal Incarnate to the Italian community here, to show them the treasure that God has brought to this valley,” he continued.

As the sun began to set, residents of Isola gathered to learn more about the 26 artists who will be spending the next three months in residence at the Christian campground, Centro Evangelico Isola.

 
 
One of my favorite exercises that we do here at Incarnate is the worship session that happens right before we unpack the concepts of Unity and Diversity.  The Students sit around tables in groups of three, and have to work together to paint, pastel, pencil, marker, whatever (!) on pre-drawn ancient symbols of the Trinity.  The artwork that gets produced in this just over 30 minute collaboration is inspiring, even if is is Dancers and Musicians doing the work as well as Visual Artists!

If I thought of 'glory' I'd think first of kings or mountains; splendid things, things which are edged in gold, and distant and massive and ancient. 

And if I was thinking of God's glory I could very well stare at mountains- they're His after all- their beauty suggests His and their majesty suggests His. I can look at mountains and remember that God's glory is a powerful thing (so powerful, that when Moses asked to see it he was hidden in a rock, unable to look at God's face.)

Perspective-1

 

Recently a number of us from the OM Arts Incarnate training climbed up to Vaccara, a high vantage point overlooking the Italian Alps. This point rewards those who would venture there with a 360º view of some of the most awesome landscape within a thousand miles.

Newborn

Connecting learning with doing is a challenge.  As its name implies, the Incarnate program asks artists to live out their learning.  But Incarnate is only the beginning; only 3 months tucked away in the Italian Alps.  The program is really about artists making a career out of serving communities for Jesus.

Ileana by Fritz Liedtke

Fritz Liedtke -- the visual arts mentor for Incarnate 2014 -- has released a new book, "Skeleton in the Closet." Through photography and personal written accounts, this book features the stories of people who have struggled with eating disorders.  

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