Twenty-five years ago, I went to Nepal on my first mission trip. I was moved to learn that Christianity supersedes cultural differences! When I returned to the United States, I took the Perspectives class in World Missions. What an eye-opener for me! During the intervening twenty-five years Genesis 12:2 has challenged me, which I interpret to say that I have been blessed to bless others.
Last year I attended the New Wineskins conference. As I was passing through the Lobby one day, I happened to see a small group of photographs on a table. Among the photos was one entitled, “God is Calling Artists To…”, listing ways in which an artist can serve God. This one photograph by artist Beverley Roehr touched my heart and led me over the next ten months to paint a series of paintings on the journeys of refugees.
I painted the first painting from a story and photographs which I saw in a magazine in a doctor’s office. The article concerned Mussie Zerai, a refugee from Eritrea, who is now living in Italy. Mussie Zerai is a Roman Catholic priest who has used his cell phone to help other refugees. For over ten years he has helped thousands of migrants stranded in the Mediterranean to safety. His example encouraged me to use my artistic expertise to motivate others to help refugees. A verse has challenged me along the way, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act” (Proverbs 3:27). My exhibit on refugees is at the Richmond Public Library for two months. I wanted to paint images which show the obstacles refugees encounter as they journey toward a better life. One painting depicts a young mother bathing her newborn over a mud puddle. Another painting shows refugees crossing a wintry river on foot. It is my hope that these eight paintings, as they travel as a group on loan, will touch the hearts of viewers and motivate them to action on behalf of refugees.
What are ways one can help refugees?
1. Commit your inquiry to the Lord.
2. Explore websites about the current needs of refugees.
3. Focus on one particular aspect of the refugee journey as God leads your heart.
4. Research. Contact local and international agencies dealing with refugees to better inform yourself. Learn which AFM missionaries are working with refugees and what their programs are.
5. Be a refugee advocate. Pray regularly for your chosen group or focus point. Look for positive ways to keep refugees in the public eye.
6. Take action. Find ways to volunteer while setting goals for your time, resources, and involvement.
7. Involve others. My series of eight paintings is available for loan and installation at other venues. Please contact me at email@example.com for more information. To see the exhibit online, go to www.artbycdeb.com and click on “Reaching Toward Hope and a Future.”
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”
This wonderful verse from Jeremiah 29:11 speaks to me of God’s love for refugees. May we be a blessing to these others whom God loves.
Constance de Bordenave