In weeks 1-3 of the 30 Days of Heartwork devotional, students begin to understand the ideas of Letting Go, Identity and Compassion. They see that whatever we are holding tightly to can begin to define us. This makes it difficult for us to have open eyes to the needs of others around us. The final week of the devotional journey is dedicated to teaching students what it means to live with mission. Sometimes, oftentimes in fact, living with mission means looking at what you already have and seeing how God might want to use that to bless others. Remember the little boy in John 6? He had some bread and a couple of smelly fish, but God used his little to be a blessing to many. We love it when students begin to understand this kingdom idea. God can take what is already in our hands and multiply it when we surrender it to Him.
Amarie is a student whose exceptional talent/hobby was like the fish and loaves in her life. It seemed like very little to her, but a Champion (in her case, an awesome teacher) empowered her to think bigger and engaged her in Heartwork. Her gifts have been used to bless others, and her own life has been dramatically impacted in the process!
“Art has always been a large part of my life. Ever since I was young, I could be found doodling, painting or putting together some sort of craft. At recess, while the other kids played tag or foursquare, I would be off to the side, drawing in my sketchbook.
As I got older, I took whatever art classes I could, but I was never very serious about it. It was fun, but not something I ever thought I could make a career of. It was just a simple hobby that I happened to be kind of good at.
My perspective changed completely when, one day, my art teacher, Mark Silvers, presented us with a way to spend ourselves and use our art to make an actual difference in the world around us. Through Heartwork, we had an opportunity to help a village in need of water. After watching videos of the poverty-stricken village, we decided to put together a silent auction where we could sell the artwork we created in class and use the proceeds to build a well in the village. We called this effort “Art For Water.” In addition to the silent auction, we put faces to the hardship by drawing pictures of African children like those from the village we were helping. We hung these drawings in the cafeteria where people could buy them for $5 each. “Art For Water” proved to be very successful as we were able to fully sponsor the Heartwork project and build a well in the village!
What I didn’t realize at the time was that something sparked inside of me as I saw my classmates and I band together and use the gifts God had given us to totally change the lives of people living in a village across the world.
<<Pic of boy filling water bottle>>
The summer after my Sophomore year, I spent many hours sharpening my skills by drawing portraits of people in my sketchbook. My passion for art was amplified with the realization that I could use my talents and passions to make a real, tangible difference in the world. My drawings weren’t very impressive at first, but the practice paid off as I saw my work steadily improve. The following year, “Art For Water” grew into an even bigger event, and I spent a great deal of time on a charcoal drawing of a beautiful young girl. To my amazement, this drawing alone raised over $200 toward the cause, and the following year, another drawing of mine sold for $350. Both works of art won the People’s Choice Award, bringing in an additional $1000 each year to the cause. It was so inspiring to watch God take what I considered to be just a hobby and turn it into something greater than I could have ever imagined.
<<Pic 4 pieces of artwork>>
I now study art as a Sophomore in college, and God is already opening up many new opportunities for my art to be used to make a difference in the world around me. I still participate in “Art for Water” at my high school every year. It is so fulfilling to use my abilities to achieve something far beyond myself. This fall will be the 5th year Resurrection Christian School hosts “Art for Water.” This means we will have impacted the lives in 5 different villages!
Being a part of something bigger than one’s self is truly life-giving, especially when it positively and significantly affects the lives of others. As I reflect on the past 4 years, it’s amazing how God birthed an idea in my art teacher, an idea bigger than himself. That idea became a reality when my classmates and I worked together to make it happen. We dramatically changed the lives of the people in many villages around the world, and in doing so, changed our own lives at the same time.
God has given us all unique talents and passions. If we embrace our gifts, letting God lead, He will use them to accomplish more than we can even fathom. We don’t have to have it all figured out now; we just have to follow His gentle prompting, and little by little, He will reveal to us the intricate and specific plan He has for our lives. Eventually, when we let Him, God will take our one loaf and two fish and feed an entire crowd.”
How can you use the “fish and loaves” in your life to bless others? How can you champion this effort in the life of a student you know?