Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Art is a Universal Language

Sweden was the first place where we were faced with a language barrier. The first few days were frustrating for the team as we had to rely on a handful of translators to help us communicate. As an artist, I knew I (Krista) had to get creative.  God spoke to me. Simply, yet powerfully. Draw a picture. Everyone in the world understands a picture. Art is a common language no matter where you are from. I took that message and ran with it.

Four points

While visiting a church near London (United Kingdom), I had met a man with four pins on his hat. These four pins included:
  1. a heart = God loves us
  2. an "X" = We all have sinned
  3. a cross = Jesus died for us
  4. a question mark "?" = Do you want a relationship with God?

( Entered information in journal as the man explained each symbol to me. )

Remembering this short, yet powerful message, I asked a translator to teach me these four phrases in Swedish. Although I would not be able to have a full conversation or answer all their questions, I could at least be able to tell the most important story in the world. Then I drew these four symbols boldly on my arm like a tattoo, in the hope that people would notice and initiate a conversation with.

When I shared this idea with the team, Carrie, Anna and Sara also drew the symbols on their arms. On a bus ride, Quentin asked loudly, "Krista, what is that on your arm?" I began to explain in English, he asked if I could say it in Swedish. This caught the attention (and amusement) of the other passengers as they listened to my poor Swedish, and many listened carefully to work out what I was trying to say! We started using that little role-play in many other places and opportunities.


Flowing with God's joy

As Ramadan ended on our last Friday night in Sweden, we decided to organize a Pancake Night at the town square. Free pancakes, coffee, tea and live music would be a great way to gather a crowd. Usually, Anna and I are the designated face painters in community outreach events, but as the Pancake Night was from 9pm to midnight, I had to find another way to initiate conversation.
Finding a few pieces of paper, a marker and two highlighters in my backpack, I began drawing the scene around me. The team was glowing with the joy of God, and it was like we were in a bubble of peace, safety and happiness. My first picture was of Sara serving the best pancakes I have ever eaten, while Du was playing guitar... everything was perfect. I used the highlighters to express the joy and Holy Spirit flowing out of them. As I continued to draw, onlookers asked why I was outlining the figures with glowing light. I told them it was the love and happiness we had from Jesus. When people asked if they could buy the pictures, I told them they could have the pictures for free, if only they listened to a short story.  I drew the "Four Points" symbols next to my signature on each picture. As Carrie started sharing the Four Points story, crowds of Muslims started gathering around.

( \First street sketch- Sara and Du. )

Great expectations

Carrie did a great job of being bold and sharing the word, and using her genuine and friendly spirit as a living example of Christ. Each team member played a major role in speaking to people and serving the community that night. We will take our new knowledge and use it at our next stop. God's work is always greater than our expectations. We won't let anything slow us down! God always has an answer, and he has everything under control!


  1. So encouraging to hear your stories - and exciting! God is good and will respond to your faithfulness in serving Him!

  2. Loved reading this post! It's inspiring to me to hear what God is doing through you all. Never met you Krista, but it's exciting to see you using art for God's glory. Oh, and hi to Anna and Jaco!
    Sarah Lovin