The following blog is written by an East-West missionary serving in the Middle East.
Since college, I’ve had a deep love for the Psalms.
As a classically trained musician, I’m convinced that my work in music is what has repeatedly drawn me to David, the Sons of Korah, Asaph, and other Psalmists who used music to worship God. The psalms inspire me because they don’t just represent corporate worship, but a deep intimacy with God, a rich expression of the soul, and a preaching to one’s own heart that leads others to repent and worship.
While there have been seasons of my life when reading God’s word proved a chore, this has rarely been the case while sitting in the psalms.
Four years ago, one of my mentors encouraged me to consider how I could invest my life and resources toward reaching unreached peoples with the good news of Jesus. It started with a short-term trip to Central Asia, then another, then several years of discipleship and training. Along my journey to working and living among the unreached, a couple of psalms have encouraged me to pursue God’s Kingdom.
“May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us, Selah
that your way may be known on earth,
your saving power among all nations.” -Psalm 67:1-2
It is remarkable that these verses are given to us as one sentence! In just a few words, this psalm reveals that it is not wrong to ask for God’s grace, blessing, and presence, but this is incomplete if it doesn’t include blessing others through His good gifts. I distinctly remember the wrecked feeling of visiting a city of 1.5 million in Central Asia and hearing there were only an estimated 30 believers among them. It was there where it seemed that the Church—including me—needed to take Psalm 67 to heart.
Those blessed by hearing the gospel are intended to work to see “all the peoples” praise God.
In response to this trip, I began to consider how I could use the gifts I’ve been given for missions. I was eager to move overseas as quickly as possible, but going can be a slow process.
In hindsight this was absolutely God’s grace, as He was allowing me space to grow in spiritual maturity, to experience my first season of true suffering, and to learn dependence on the body of believers like never before. This season was also a time to sharpen my craft as a musician and deepen my vision for seeing the gospel go forward with the work and talents given to me by God to steward. And in this season, another psalm seemed to be highlighted just for me.
“Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!” -Psalm 96:3
This psalm continues by describing the difference between God’s glory and the bankrupt value of idols who receive worship. Today this reminds me of both the hidden idols that plague the country I now call home and our western idols of materialism, relationships, and even ministry. A key difference however in my cross-cultural context is that there are few believers among these nations to point to a better focus of our worship.
There are few people here to shine a light on Jesus and how he is better than false, man-made idols that have no power to save.
And that’s why I now serve in an unreached, Middle Eastern nation where I am hosting home concerts to cultivate a space for spiritual conversations.
I share my story with you because it reveals what I’ve come to believe is one of the best ways for workers to enter the mission field. God often chooses to use our giftings—in music, art, media, sports, business, and more—to make his name great and make disciples of all nations.
I get to use my talents for the expanse of the Kingdom of God. And you can too.
Today I want to remind those with a creative gifting that art is crafted by God for His glory. What we create is a reminder that our God is the Creator who makes beautiful things. Because this is true of Him, it makes sense that God wants to use the arts to spread the gospel among the unreached.
Regardless of the art you create, we are all storytellers. For artists and creatives who are considering how to live for Jesus and who look forward to His coming kingdom, it makes complete sense to use your talent to enter a spiritually dark place. The portrait you paint, the music you sing, the poem you write, the play you script, the photo you snap, the cake you decorate, and the dance you perform can be positioned to tell the story of Jesus.
Creatives have unique access into specific communities. Why not leverage our art to worship God for His beauty and strength while inviting the lost to do the same?
But this call must come from God, not man. As another psalm says, “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1).
Praise God that He is building His house with Christ as our cornerstone! And one day, when our faith is sight, many from all nations will be united in him, praising and singing to the glory of his name forever.
God wants to use the gifts He’s given you to paint this picture. Will you join Him in his great and creative work?