August 2nd, 2015

The Arts in Missions

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Join us in Praying for our Boys’ Beginnings in August:
Today Tyler begins his career as an Army Officer. Stationed at Ft. Benning, Geogia. He drove safely from Boulder, Colorado last week, while Jim and I were involved in another family memorial service (My dad’s older sister Joyce).
August 19th Cameron moves into the dorms at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.
This is the ninth time in their lives they are starting from scratch with a new city and new friends. God has made them outgoing & personable men, but it’s still tough!
Reply to me for their addresses if you want to write or send a little care package! 
Lord, we trust you are with them and have even gone before them. You are always with them. Please make your presence known to them while they miss old friends and make new ones. We trust you to guide them to a new circle of honorable and loyal friends whose hearts are committed to you.
The Arts & Missions in the 21st Century
Working with arts in a cross cultural context has changed dramatically in recent years.
Western missionaries now realize that often we have exported our cultural biases and styles as we brought the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Through translating western hymns, wearing western clothing and in other ways, wetransferred culture along with the Truth (as shown in this photo from worship in an official church in Vietnam taken in 2013).
Cherished cultural practices of indigenous peoples were thrown out as “pagan” when they could have been redeemed and transferred to become part of their Christian worship. Imposing our cultural styles along with the message of Salvation has caused unessesary conflict for peoples who decide to follow Jesus. They have been taught that they must “put off” more than their sinfullness, and “put on” more than Godly righteousness. Because of this, wherever the Gospel has gone in the past the Christian church and Christianity often seems like a religion of foreigners. Why? Because the way they worship is foreign.
My Trip to Thailand Last Month
In missions today, there is much more sensitivity and appreciation for indigenous expressions of culture, and a desire to sensitively bring an uncompromised message of truth in a form not so foreign.
This has also changed how we use the arts. Where the model for arts in mission historically was to bring it, translate it, teach itthere are now more collaborations done that build bridges between cultures, and a preference to find the existing art forms in the culture and encourage the creative people among them to create new works (giving extra attention to local artists who represent geographically or ethnically rooted traditions).
A large part of this new trend for Christians in cross-cultural work has happened because of the Lausanne Arts Network, the Global Consultation on Music and Missions (GCoMM), and the International Council of Ethnodoxologists(ICE). July 6-11 in Thailand, I attended a conference for Ethnodoxologists, those using Arts in a cross cultural context. Ethnodoxology is a big word, it simply means “Peoples” + “Worship.” Last year the September issue of Mission Frontiers was given to unpacking this subject, and an inspiring handbook of case studies and teaching on the subject has been published. If you have any interest in this beyong this short report, follow these links!
Orality and storytelling was the topic of some plenary sessions and one of the teaching tracks because many in the world do not read. Telling our story well in a culturally appropriate way is important! Julisa Rowe from Kenya was there with her instructional book Dramatising Scripture (She is the friend who in past years has invited my particiaption in the Egypt Drama Ministry Camps). Various Ministries and Christians from Thailand had an opportunity to lead in worship and share their forms of drama, dance and visual art.
Exploring During this Sabbatical
During the week a course was offered teaching a methodology for learning the arts in a culture and encouraging new works for Kingdom Goals. Becoming a standard for some mission organizations in their training for missionaries, Creating Local Arts Together was offered during the conference. I now have some more good tools in my toolkit for using arts as a platform for ministry!
This course and the conference were a part of the puzzle in this Sabbatical as we seek God’s direction for our future. As I prayed before the conference about this, I sensed that my role there was to encourage other participants that I would meet. Over meals, I learned more from faculty about schools like Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics, in Dallas. I was especially fascinated by the innovations in education that B.H. Carrol Theological Institute offers. Formerly Deans of Southwestern Seminary, this group in Dallas have created affordable accredited programs online (and on location) around the world.
Even before I exited the plane on the first of three flights going there, I recognized the woman standing behind me. Though I’d never met her, I knew she was a professor from Fuller Seminary, a part of the conference planning committee, and a mentor to some of the missionaries I know. I suprised her by asking her, “Are you Dr. Roberta King?”  She was shocked! Soon after we were in a transparent conversation. From that first layover, and many times through the week God confirmed this role of “Encourager” for me.
I am sure the Lord will use some of the many connections I made at GCoMM in leading me to more opportunities to empower ministry leaders in their use of the arts for the glory of God.
After the conference, God provided a way for me to extend my 10 hour layover in Singapore to 5 extra days! I’ll spare you the details how, but it was a testimony to the reality that “no way” doesn’t always mean “absolutely no way.” Each night in a different bed, I made my way around the island with my little suitcase and backpack. God made a way for me to have numerous divine appointments to encourage friends who have been stuck, depressed or frustrated for different reasons.
Blessing, Joy, Humility, Gratitude, Grace,
Kimberly Creasman
BTW: What do we mean by “Kingdom Goals?”
Our Mission as followers of Christ is not merely Evangelism and Church Planting, though this is still essential part of our work. Our Good news is the Gospel and new/eternal life through Christ. However, signs that the Kingdom of God is present in communities can also include more in addition to this essential task of sharing our news. With a Christian worldview, we can also assist people in building a strong sense of identity, and other issues like sustainability, peace, justice, availability and knowledge of Scripture, healthy growing churches and church leaders, as well as building up individual believers for a stronger and more vibrant personal spiritual life.
What I’m Reading: Jim
A Patch of Ground: Khe Sanh RememberedA poignant, often humorous, recollection of the siege of Khe Sanh–a pivotal turning point in the American war in Vietnam. Under constant bombardment from the enemy, Michael Archer and his cadre of young Marines managed to survive and, in the process, learn about manhood, sacrifice and the darkest recesses of fear and loneliness..” -Amazon
In the Bible for August: Joshua
What I’m Reading: Kimberly
How to Sell a Boatload of Books. I’m still hammering away at my Put On / Put Off project (link to the work in progress where I welcom your comments!). An editor friend from Singapore joined me in Thailand last month and offered to work with me on the project.
This little ebook was freeand was a quick and informative read from the former Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelso Publishers.
What I’m Reading: Kimberly
Link to All the World is SingingGlorifying God through the Worship Music of the Nations, Frank Fortunato

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