Seeds of Truth

Bosnia 2008
Author: P. Butler OM Artslink - Bosnia 08

An Artslink team of four joined 17 other artists-dancers, musicians, and performers-from America, Canada and England-in Bihac, a northern city located not far from where war broke out in the north of this beautiful country. The team participated in a city-wide cultural festival, attended a national prayer conference, and prepped a wall for a mural in the local social center.

During the first week, the Artslink team met the director of a social center, and surveyed the task to be done. They got their supplies, getting a lesson in Bosnian hardware stores along the way, and began scraping and sweeping. The team also had opportunity each day to chat with those who came to the center: diabetes patients, usually men, who came to play chess. A second group of artists, from a partnering church in North America, arrived while we attended the prayer conference, and painted the mural.

OM Artslink - Bosnia 08

The artists also headed to Sarajevo, to the national prayer conference, with a young Muslim man who had befriended them. They had the privilege of joining 200 other folks from several nations, living and working all over Bosnia. The team's young friend had a turning point: breaking down about midway through the conference, he sobbed while the team gathered around him and prayed. Two days later, he came to the team and declared that he had Jesus in his heart. The field workers confirmed the reality of his conversion, and before departing, they had the joy of participating in his first communion.

During the second week, the team set up in the city park, under the shade trees along the River Una. At one end of the park, on a typical day, a group of people gathered around the artists as they drew portraits. Conversation flowed easily around art, God, life. A little further away, children and art materials were strewn about as they received instruction and encouragement from another artist. A steady stream of teenage boys surrounded one of our artists, clamoring for tattoos!

OM Artslink - Bosnia 08

The team also set out to meet the artistic community in Bihac, which they were able to do through the friendship of another Muslim man, an artist himself. He seemed to know every artist, sculptor, museum curator and gallery owner in Bihac, and introduced the team to almost everyone! They had a delightful time, learned a lot about Bosnian art, and only wished they had had more time to visit the local art university and art association with him.

The music, dance and drama teams continued their presentations while the artists drew and taught. Most watching/listening were from a Muslim background, so some explanation was needed-and given. Jesus was freely preached from the microphone. People listened, a few walked away.

OM Artslink - Bosnia 08

Meanwhile, conversations were happening everywhere: in 2's and 3's, in small groups, with families, with bike riders, dog walkers and gypsies. Some talked about their frustrations, some about their worries, some their disappointments, others their unwillingness or inability to forgive. Some cried. Through it all, there were eyes of compassion; words of comfort, encouragement and seeds of eternal truth planted in willing hearts.

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