About three months ago, I flew back to America after having been in Northern Africa for six months. My traveling to Africa was an extension of a nine-month training program that I was involved with at Hillside Missions Organization before leaving the states. During my training I learned much about how to respectfully and openly share my faith with people whose worldview is different from my own. While I was overseas I was able to put what I had learned into practice.
Within my first week of arriving to North Africa I had the privilege of displaying two pieces of art that I had painted in response to Jesus’ working in my life. Essentially they were a materialization of my personal testimony. While they were hanging on the wall, alongside many other pieces of artwork produced for similar reasons, Muslim men and women were invited to look at them and ask questions about them. There was one woman in particular, we will call her Amber, who asked me about my pieces. At the moment when I was questioned about them, I realized that I would be one of the very few people with the privilege of sharing the truth about Jesus with her, since she lived in a nation with a very small, almost nonexistent, Christian population. Needless to say, I was honored.
Amber listened to me, with someone acting as my interpreter, as I shared about what Jesus had done for me and for all of us. Honestly I can’t remember what exactly she said in response, but I know that it wasn’t argumentative and that we did not have any kind of debate about truth as a result of my sharing. I simply spoke and she simply listened, and it was all very peaceful. By using art as a conversation starter, and by allowing her to ask her own questions in response to the images she saw, we were able to get to the meat of things quickly and calmly with openness.
Months after this occurrence, she and I continued to talk and spend time together. One night in particular, the two pieces of artwork I had made were brought up in conversation. Amber was asked if she remembered what I told her about them. She did remember, and she proceeded to recount what I had told her. This resulted in a long discussion about faith between her, myself, a few more of our team members, and a member of her family. We all shared our opinions in depth and with love.
Before leaving North Africa I had to decide what to do with these two pieces of artwork that I had made. They were too large for me to bring back to America, and honestly I didn’t want them, so I decided to give them a new home. I didn’t get to see where Amber put them in her home before I left, but I have hope that every time she looks at them, whether that be in her sitting room while she drinks tea with her family, or in her bedroom before she goes to sleep at night, that she will remember what she heard about Jesus. How He brings light into darkness, how He made a way for forgiveness, how He showed us what love looks like in His death, and how He can bring redemption to our lives as He is living and active today. I have hope that when she looks at them she will consider those things.