Art Opens Doors For The Gospel
What do you get when you combine Christ, culture and art?
You get disciples using their artistic talents, whether they are visual, musical, theatrical or dance, to further God’s kingdom by empowering communities.
This is exactly what Bethel alumna Jessica Rupp ’07 has been doing with Operation Mobilization Arts International (OM Arts) ever since she graduated from Bethel College.
“We take the gifting that someone has in the arts and tap into it,” says Rupp, who majored in studio arts. “It bypasses the mind and goes straight to the heart, using that gifting for His kingdom to bring people to Christ.”
As the visual art director of OM Arts, Rupp plans all of the short-term trips for international artists to locations worldwide.
“We do these short-term trips to go in and make a long-term effect,” says Rupp, who is out of the country for about half of the year with the organization. “We partner with communities and churches to have a long-term effect and watch the Spirit lead. … Our goal is to live in the presence of the Spirit. We build these relationships with these people … we want to go and make disciples.”
They also want to love people and mirror the heart of God.
For instance, on a recent trip to Guatemala, OM Arts partnered with Hope of Life International and painted murals of local children and babies who had been rescued.
“These kids are so beautiful and we wanted to honor them,” says Rupp, who participated in the trip.
It was at Bethel where Rupp felt called to marry mission work with the arts.
She recalls Marilyn Laszlo, a missionary and speaker, coming to her church when she was just 6 years old.
“She brought all these … men in loincloths to my church,” recalls Rupp, “and I remember thinking: this is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.” More than a decade later, while Rupp was attending Bethel, Laszlo was the Spiritual Emphasis speaker. Laszlo’s message, combined with Rupp’s Bethel experience, has equipped her to serve the kingdom through her vocation.
“I had really good professors (both in and out of my major),” says Rupp. “I think it really comes down to the amazing mission courses that I took [at Bethel],” she says, adding that these courses helped her realize she could integrate missions into any culture. “[These courses] made me more interested [in missionary work] and it helped me to develop a mindset that there’s different ways to show the arts to the people of Guatemala than the people in South Africa.”
After finishing the fall 2006 semester, Rupp attended the missionary conference, Urbana, where she discovered OM Arts.
“OM Arts is an open door to get into anywhere you want,” says Rupp. After learning of OM Arts, Rupp went on a few mission trips with them before going on to pursue a master’s degree in art education from Boston University. “I can teach in universities internationally. I’ve been to galleries because it’s non-threatening. I go to Guatemala and we do street art and murals. God just opens up doors. And the Lord is just working everywhere. It’s exciting to see the arts bring cultures and people together.”
Interested in our visual arts program? Contact our Admission department at Admissions@BethelCollege.edu or attend one of our on-campus art shows in the Weaver Art Gallery. View the schedule at BethelCollege.edu/ArtEvents.