Summer Colors of Bosnia

Bosnia, Summer 2006
Author Undisclosed OM ArtsLink - Bosnia 06

What do you get if you take ten artists (professional and aspiring) from four different nationalities (Australia, South Africa, the UK and the USA) and put them in Bosnia with a pot of strong coffee, several tins of paint and 40 gypsy kids? You get this year’s Artslink team in Bihac!

Much of the time was spent painting huge murals on walls in the children’s ward of a hospital, in the OM ministry base, and on an office building near the centre of town. "One of the best things for me was painting the murals," says Diane. "You just keep painting away at your own part and it’s great when you see it all coming together!" Passers-by were both surprised and impressed that people had come from so faraway to serve their community.

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The team also ran art and dance workshops for children and adults with patients in the children’s ward, at women’s groups and in a nearby gypsy village. Mairi enjoyed doing workshops with the gypsy children, "It was heart-warming to see the kids really concentrate on their artwork and take a real pride in making something creative."

Despite a busy schedule the team found time to engage in the favourite Bosnian past-time of drinking coffee with friends! During evenings and weekends, team members got to know other English-speaking coffee drinkers and had opportunities to share their faith and talk about what had brought them to Bosnia. "I loved making friends and just going out asking God to hook me up with those seeking him," says Janice.

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The team was also impacted by the beauty and suffering of Bihac. The town is set in an area of outstanding natural beauty - clear rivers, thick forests and blue mountains - with a friendly and peaceful atmosphere. At the same time, bullet holes mark nearly every building and many people silently suffer from loneliness, grief and poverty. Tanya observes, "...People’s hearts here are boarded up emotionally, unable to deal with the pain of war, yet masked by beauty. I got the impression that hurt lies just beneath the surface of people’s lives, just like a landmine. The only hope for Bosnia is in Jesus."

Without a doubt the Artslink team has gone away with more than fond memories of painting walls in Bosnia. Most, like David, enjoyed the opportunity to interact with other Christian artists, "There were some really cool people on the team. I learned a lot from those who knew about art and saw a lot of really amazing personal qualities."

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Emily appreciated using art in worship and mission, "It was great to be with a group of artists doing art together. No one moaned about not being able to paint or draw! I want to go on to do simple stuff like incorporating prayer and art and to show others in the church that art can be a powerful tool for them too. It can be something for everyone." She goes on, "The things I’ve done here are not revolutionary. I could have done them all in my home country. But I experienced something here that I couldn’t have experienced at home. The people I met, the activities I’ve taken part in - all interacted together to create this life-changing trip."

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