Friday, July 25, 2014

Hope in Desolation

An explosion shatters the stillness of the night.

People scramble for shelter, the air thick with fear as they huddle together, wondering if they will even live to see another morning. A mother struggles to silence her crying child and cringes at the shouts that seem to echo across the dessert. An orphan crouches into the shadows and trembles as he hears the heavy footsteps that beat across the sandy terrain. As yet another bomb rumbles through the war-torn landscape, ripping up everything in its path, there is only one question that remains...

When will it all end?

For the people of Syria, these types of experiences have become a reality that they face each day. Several million have been internally displaced during the ongoing conflict and many others have already fled to neighboring countries.

However, even in the midst of tragedy, God is working and transforming lives. Operation Mobilization is currently involved in aid efforts and has witnessed people from all backgrounds come to faith.

Partnering with local churches and Christian groups, OM is beginning to see openness in a culture that was once very difficult to penetrate.

A Syrian woman and her child seek refuge in a neighboring country.
Pray for the Displaced...
-Comfort and peace in the midst of difficult living conditions
-Changed lives that will go back and impact Syria

Pray for the Arab Church...
-Continued encouragement and perseverance
-Wisdom and direction as they engage with the people
-Direction as they faithfully serve
-They would not grow weary
-Thrive and trust in Jesus, despite danger and persecution

Pray for OM's Work in the Near East...
-The right people would join us
-Development of sustainability projects
-God would bring a social media coordinator
-New teams going to Zahle and Ibid

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Artist Spotlight: Abby

Like so many other young artists, Abby's experience at Incarnate 2014 was nothing short of life changing. Skilled in over five instruments, her giftedness in the area of music was unparalleled by any other student. In fact, she was so talented, that even Incarnate leader Bill Drake found himself astounded at her musical genius.

However, despite her impressive strengths in the area of music, Abby was also very broken and damaged. Originally from Finland, her early life had been one of abuse and pain that she was desperately trying to forget. Her time at Incarnate was a drastic change from the world she had previously known, but each day was still a struggle that she had to overcome.

For the final project, each musical artist was required to create one song, showcasing everything that they had learned during the previous three months. Inspired by a recent lesson on the "Story Arc" from Genesis to Revelation, Abby chose to write four songs instead of one.

Her idea was that each song would signify a piece of the remarkable story of God's redemption and love for His people.

1. Location (The Garden of Eden)
2. Dislocation (The Fall)
3. Relocation (The Cross)
4. Restoration (Resurrection/New Life)

She was able to complete the first two sections of her musical composition, however, when she reached the third piece she couldn't go any further. As her frustration mounted, Abby began to wrestle with many events that had occurred in her past.

It was one night in the recording studio that she finally broke down, confessing and sharing everything that she had been through. As the Incarnate team gathered around and prayed for her, Abby was finally delivered from the pain and bitterness that had plagued her for so many years.

As this healing began to take place, the music also began to flow. When she finished the last note of the last song, there was no doubt that Abby's life had been completely transformed.

Her piece, which she titled "The Restoration Suite," is a striking reflection of her personal journey, conveying the awe-inspiring beauty of love and forgiveness.

While she is still uncertain about her future plans, the leadership team at Incarnate hopes to eventually help her record her own album. There is no doubt that God has gifted Abby with her incredible musical abilities for a reason. As she continues to follow Him, Abby trusts that He will guide and direct each of her steps on how to use her talents to bring Him glory.

Watch the Incarnate 2014 video: Restoration Suite

Friday, July 18, 2014

Artist Spotlight: Kara

With her contagious laugh and bubbly personality, Kara brought joy to everyone who attended Incarnate 2014. As a small town girl from Minnesota, Kara had grown up in a large homeschooling family with seven other siblings.

Time - Oil paint on canvas
Although she had only taken one online art course, she possessed incredible talent, particularly in the area of painting. Her passion was to create art of people that society often considered to be insignificant or unimportant.

She was especially skilled at painting with a knife, creating a unique "ruggedness" that truly captured the essence of each subject. 

Not only was Kara an accomplished artist, but she also impressed the Incarnate team with her heart for missions. She had previously been working with a refugee ministry and was already on her way to be a career missionary with substantial support.

Several weeks into the Incarnate program, Kara approached Teri Drake, one of the leaders, and shared her desire to go to Ethiopia as a missionary.

Teri wisely suggested that she write to the Ethiopian field leader, asking if they had an art program that she could participate in. She then requested that Kara draft up a list of her passions and the things that truly excited her.

When she finally received a message from Ethiopia, Kara came again to Teri, "The leader said that they don't have a vision for art, but I could do it on the side."

Teri paused for a moment and then replied, "But I didn't see teaching English on your list of passions."

Protection and Provision - Oil paint on canvas
This wise counsel impacted Kara, eventually influencing her decision to participate in the art program in Belgium instead. Now, as she has returned home, she is currently raising support for her first art missionary trip.

Throughout her time at Incarnate, Kara proved to be a true inspiration to everyone who met her. As she embarks on this newest journey, she is excited to use art as a means for reaching people all over the world.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Artist Spotlight: Emma

The shadows danced on the walls of the small cave as Emma leaned against the stones, eyes closed and heart searching for answers. The group had long since left, but she had requested to remain alone, in a cave where persecuted Christians had once come to worship in secret.


It was here in this silent darkness that Emma felt she could truly hear the voice of God, and this moment, He was telling her to sing.

Emma opened her eyes slowly, feeling His presence deep within her, and wanting nothing more than to answer His call.

But as she took a breath to begin her song, she hesitated, feeling a lump in her throat that seemed like it was suffocating her; keeping her from making any sound.

When she finally emerged from the cave, she met with her Incarnate discipleship group, tears filling her eyes as she began to weep.

Incarnate students gather in a cave where persecuted
Christians worshipped in secret during the Middle Ages.


Originally born in Zimbabwe, Emma had lived in New Zealand for the majority of her life. Now, as a 20-year-old student, she had flown halfway around the world to spend time in Italy at Incarnate 2014.

However, the past few weeks at Incarnate had not been easy. Not only was she painfully shy, but she wasn't engaging, completing any projects, or even asking for help despite the staff's tireless efforts.

Perhaps most concerning was Emma's difficulty with the major project of creating artwork for a local festival. In fact, she was struggling so much that Incarnate team contemplated sending her home.

It was during one last effort by Incarnate leader, Bill Drake, that he presented Emma with a halfway finished song. Little did he know the impact that the words would have in Emma's broken life.

Standing here in the darkness, I want to see you, I want to see you.
Standing here in the silence, I want to hear you, I want to hear you.

The lyrics resonated with Emma in a way that nothing else had seemed to. Not only did they describe her experience in the cave, but they also reflected her heart's deepest desire to truly understand God's purpose for her future.

As she completed the song and performed it in the studio, the team watched with complete amazement at the transformation that had taken place in Emma's heart.

When her time at Incarnate finally drew to a close, she was reluctant to return home to New Zealand. While she is still unsure about her future, the three months spent in Italy sparked a desire to join OM Arts or be involved in music in some capacity.

As she seeks to follow God's plan, the Incarnate team continues to pray for clarity, guidance, and the ability to process everything that she learned at Incarnate. Through the struggles, fears, and even heartache, Emma had the opportunity to experience things that she could have never imagined.

While she may not completely understand her next steps, there is no doubt that God can use her in amazing ways if she continues to trust and follow Him.

Watch the Incarnate 2014 video: Your Voice