Finding Riches Stored in Secret Places

North Africa 2009
Author: Undisclosed OM Artslink - North Africa 2009

“I have lived in this town for 19 years and this is the first time in my life that I have experienced anyone coming from the outside, from the west to learn from our culture. Thank you for coming. I want to say from my heart, thank you, the exhibition is a gift.” - A 23 yr old student.

“There’s a deeper meaning in this piece of work, I’m going to return tomorrow to sit and contemplate it.” And return, he did. Silently, this 19 year old physics student from a local university sat in front of the painting, entitled ‘The Passage of Time,’ a piece about the artist’s journey, growth and new life. This young man had read the whole bible before but had many questions. Standing in front of the painting, we shared about the way to heaven, how to enter, knowing God and being known by him. That it is only Jesus’ blood which cleanses our hearts making us clean. We are welcomed into heaven if we believe in Him. This curious student returned each day and continued conversations over coffee.

OM Artslink - North Africa 2009

As an archaeologist, the artists first met another local man last year when he took the art group on a guided tour of the town, showing some of the oldest and most historical sites from the roof of his uncle’s house! This year he seemed troubled and agitated. Carefully inspecting the artwork, he often asks probing questions about the meaning, seeing past surface texture to deeper content. Pausing at a piece entitled ‘The Water of Life,’ of which the artist had observed the importance of ritual cleansing within the culture and began to share with him our greater need for a clean heart. The discussion became more and more animated, as the artist shared about the forgiveness of sins and the life of Jesus which this man had read before but hadn’t understood.

These are just a few of the many individuals the art team encountered throughout their exhibition.

Being one of the most internationally diverse teams yet (5 nations), together these artists prayerfully sought to grasp God’s heart for the town and his message to the people. The exhibition was entitled, ‘Treasures’, inspired by Isaiah 45, “I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord...” (vs.3). In this way, the work was quite prophetic and led the artists into some interesting discussions with viewers.

OM Artslink - North Africa 2009

The art team was given a beautiful new building near the center of town to display their creations. Though time was short (five days to produce), the group produced quality work in photography, sculpture, painting, and textiles. The exhibition brought in a slow yet steady trickle of people which resulted in the artists having the opportunity to go deeper in conversation and friendship. Everyone who participated was challenged by what they learned, and a few of the artists are now seriously contemplating returning for a longer period of time!

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