Artists for the Brokenhearted

North Africa 2009
OM Artslink - North Africa 2009

Artists can step out of their studios and follow God's call to get dirty, and to reach out to a hurting world. The artist's role is to show compassion through their work, to bring a touch of humanity to the needy, to find what is hidden, beautiful, and redeemable in a community and to celebrate it publicly. Sometimes, the artist is called to be like the Old Testament prophets, lamenting through their work what is unjust and should be changed.

This latest outreach in North Africa brought such an opportunity. First impression of the city was one of being forgotten. It is remote, poor,and not very pretty. Residents say it's known for prostitution and alcoholism. The people the artists came to reach are considered even more "disgraced" by society. They are the handicapped. For centuries, families have hidden away their disabled children, shamed because society tells them it is the fault or sins of the parents.

OM Artslink - North Africa 2009

During the weeks of working at the center, the group felt strongly that Isaiah 61 was for this community. Though their culture tells them they had no worth, the Lord sees them as oaks of righteousness. Our prayer: instead of shame, they would have a double portion, that good news would come to the afflicted. So, the group based their arts projects on the beauty for ashes principal. They used recycled materials, found objects, bits and scraps of things gathered in everyday places. In the end, the children and moms created drawings, hand-made books, recycled paper colored by local spices, and block prints. The center was transformed into a gallery for the show. Vivid portraits of mothers and their children, were hung and entitled, "precious in His sight."

There was not a dry eye in the room when the ArtsLink leader shared that God sees these children and cherishes them. Life may indeed be filled with suffering and hardship, but God brings beauty from the ashes of ourlives. Leading doctors, politicians, and police officials attended and saw the pride in the children's eyes. It was truly a celebration and laid the ground for future ministry.

A local worker’s testimony:

“When Artslink arrived, I had great expectations. These expectations were exceeded. Artslink was the greatest blessing in such a short time, that we have had from any group visiting us, in a long time. The artists came with a humble spirit, they came to serve, and that they did. We are so thankful to God our Father for blessing us with this arts team.

One of the things that amazed me most was the fact that this group of servants came in alongside the children, assisting them, exposing and developing their artistic skills. Never did I see impatience, intolerance or any other kind of behavior other than helping, starting over, patience and patience and patience and lots of love. God used this group in tremendous ways which I think we will only know in months to come.

We are looking forward to a next visit from Artslink! “

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