A Gallery Opening

This is a story from Rachel, one of our US interns who recently traveled with a group to help one of our Middle East teams open a pop-up art gallery. Below is a moment from the gallery’s opening night.

We opened the gallery with a night of creativity, music filled the space while people from the whole community responded to the question, “Who is your neighbor?”

I was asked to paint live and it seemed right to start my painting with what was right in front of me: the neighborhood. I started sketching the scene in front of me with shades of grey paint. Once I had laid down the whole image, with trees, cars, and buildings, it made a satisfying study, but wanted color. It did not seem right to lay on the shades of blue and green that would match the colors of the night. Then, I noticed that the cross from the nearby church was directly in the center of my painting. I started painting the cross red, white, and black to match the country’s flag.

While I was painting, a local Christian woman was singing, “When you [Jesus] walk into the room, everything changes.”

She continued on to declare this song over her country. Her music moved me to tears, and I realized that yes, it is right that the cross is at the center of everything! Moved by the love of God for this place, I started painting the whole top half of my image red, to match the blood of Jesus, the Red Sea, the sacrifice of the Passover lamb over the doorposts.

Suddenly my painting was red, white, and black. When we put this painting in the gallery, people kept asking, “Why is it red?” Their curiosity directed them to the heart of the matter: This painting is about Jesus making everything different from what is expected. I loved watching people light up in response to the movement of God’s Spirit.

-Rachel