I was going through some old photos last night and I found a few pieces that were crucial to my journey to where I am now. Each of these pieces has something to do with why you are reading this blog and why I am doing art ministry today.
So there I was, I had just become a Christian, I was 22 or 23 and I knew three things. I was an artist, I loved rock music and I wanted to serve the Lord. There was a local magazine called the Pennsylvania Musician that I used to get. I went through their classified ads and found all the Christian bands. I contacted them and none of them worked out, but one guy connected me with his college roommate, Dave Baddorf from Believer. I did their original logo, first T-shirt and stage drop. They went on to put out a couple albums back in the day. It was a great experience for me and probably the first time I used my art to serve the Lord.
This was one of my many Vacation Bible School Backdrops. This represents the first time I put my gift to work in the church itself. I was a new believer, floundering in a ministry that didn’t fit me when my pastor came to me with a project I could handle, something I knew how to do and it really connected me to the church. The ramifications of this project were astounding. When I came into the church I was terrified of public speaking. Painting these backdrops, led to acting in skits, which led to teaching classes, which led to youth ministry, which led to preaching and finally to the pastorate and speaking ministry I have today.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Backdrops
The ability to paint backdrops and large paintings led to a couple freelance jobs. Probably the coolest of them was I painted backdrops for a licensee of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. While the project was extremely cool to work on this was also in some ways a huge stumbling block. The Turtles were making huge piles of money (billions) when I was doing this and the client had me convinced he was going to make me rich and famous. I sold out badly, and really fell into idolatry. This was a time of real turmoil for me. We were really broke, but God would always provide a job and a check when we needed it. God finally dealt with my idolatry or maybe he was dealing with it for a while and I finally got it. So guess you could say it was sort of the best of times and the worst of times. in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
Once I knew how to do backdrops another door opened to some of the most rewarding work I have ever done. I art directed the high school musicals for my alma mater for seven years. Beyond the fun of the art, this job ignited my passion for working with youth and when the youth leader position came open at church, I couldn’t wait to get started. It was out of my youth ministry that I discovered art as a teaching tool which was the genesis of AMOK as it exists today.
The Outhouse Mural
I place this one in for perspective. In some ways the Creation Festival is where my ministry started. The first thing I did in church ministry or at least the first church leadership position (since looking back almost all of it was ministry) was took a group of students from the church to Creation East. To say it was life changing is a huge understatement. One year the organizers of the festivals had a contest for people to design murals for the outhouses on the grounds. Mine was one of the designs selected and so I got to paint it. The irony is this: The festival gets about 80-100,000 people each year. After years and years of struggling to become rich and famous as an artist, the painting I’ve done that’s been seen by more people than any other is painted on a toilet. Some things just help you keep life in perspective.
Why do I post all of this? To remind you that God is always at work in your life so take the next step in faith. Zechariah 4:10 reminds us not to despise humble beginnings. You never know how God is going to use what He is doing in you, so trust Him and make the next step.