Janice may be alone at home, unable to leave due to the UK lockdown restrictions, but she is not muted. Optimistic by nature but not immune to the challenges posed by the coronavirus, she admits, “It’s not been easy but still, I know that God is moving, and I am hopeful.”
Janice is compelled to share this hope. She knows God is sharing simple messages with her that will bring hope and life to others too. But how can she share when she is stuck at home?
She draws on her windows.
One day a psalm. The next day, the cross. The next, an empty tomb. Visible from her street, her neighbors walk by and see. Intrigued, people stop and look. This is more than a rainbow, commonly seen in the windows of homes in the UK. Janice’s windows tell a story; a story of a man who knew what it was like to be distanced from those He loved, to live in isolation and fear and to even face death. These windows tell the story of a man who was God, and who overcame it all to bring hope, not just then but now.
Mission through art
It was the desire to reach others with the gospel that led Janice to art. She recalls thinking, “I’m in missions, yet I go to the office and I come home, and I go to church and I come home.” It dawned on her: “I don’t know many non-Christians other than a few of my neighbors.”
Initially, art was simply a means of meeting people and building new friendships outside of church and her work as head of Learning and Development for the OM team in the UK. In time, art became less a means of connecting herself with someone, and more a channel for connecting others with God.
On an outreach in Belgium, Janice discovered the full impact of art as a powerful, creative and effective way of reaching those who don’t know Jesus. A painting she exhibited, ‘Mother behold your son, son behold your mother’, based on John 19:26, invited a surprising level of interest and depth of conversation with those who passed by.
Within the year, Janice was head of OM Arts in the UK, fully committed to seeing how God can use art as a means of building His Kingdom. In humility she shares, “I’m not an artist. I am a person through whom God uses art to bring His message. I’m just someone who paints, and if God wants to use these paintings to show Himself to someone, then that’s His business!”
Before lockdown, Janice would set up her easel in a bustling city, inviting passersby to add a stroke of color to her canvas with the question, “What color do you think hope is?” They would pause, often surprised. But the conversation would then flow, naturally. “Where do you find your hope?” Janice would ask, and as the question returned to her, she would share, “I find all my hope in Jesus.”
Now, more than ever, people are looking for signs of hope. The paintings in Janice’s windows are bringing color to the street and hope for those who dwell on them.
“I’m glad you closed the curtains,” one of Janice’s neighbors said to her recently, “I couldn’t see the picture of Jesus clearly when they were open.” Janice found her neighbor’s comment so poignant in a season when many are wondering where God is. “He’s always there, you know,” she responded, “even when you can’t see Him clearly. He’s there.”
For Janice, God is present so clearly and profoundly in this season. The whole world is quaking from the effects of the virus, but God is working in the brokenness. “We have an opportunity,” Janice says, “for the Church to be born into a new way of doing things.” A new way of loving Him, and a new way of boldly and creatively sharing His love with others.