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Sharing the Hope Within Him: An Art Career With an Eternal Purpose

Sharing the Hope Within Him: An Art Career With an Eternal Purpose

God made Ian* an artist. And when the Lord called him to serve among the least-reached, he never considered going as anyone else.

So, when Ian left for the Far East in early 2019, he took his art career with him, with the rationale, “I’m designing websites and creating visual art anyway. I might as well go do it there.”

“There” was a home to a minority people group God had laid upon Ian’s heart. And his career not only helped provide the funds that enabled him to live in this place, but gave him a reason to be in the country—one that made sense in his new neighborhood. “Business was supplying the need for the work, and it was providing a context for me to be there,” Ian recalls. When he was asked why he’d moved to the Far East, he could explain, “I work online and I can work from anywhere in the world, and this just happens to be where I want to live.”

In the months that followed, Ian dove into study of the local language while completing projects for clients online and seeking opportunities to build relationships in his community, such as teaching English. And, toward the end of the year, he began work on a project that would visually portray the stories of the people group his team was seeking to reach—and eventually tell through culturally relevant art the great unfolding epic of God’s salvation.

He was just starting to take on local clients when a pandemic started to emerge. As COVID-19 began taking over newsfeeds worldwide, Ian and his teammates left a few days early for a scheduled conference in another location in the Far East, never imagining they were saying good-bye to their host country for months that would stretch into a year and an indefinite beyond.

Unable to return, Ian knew he needed to settle into his new location—a challenge made easier thanks to his already established yet mobile career. His experience as an artist also enabled him to quickly begin teaching art, which opened opportunities to make connections with local families.

“God provided me with a skill set and a passion for something that was convenient to do from far away because He knew that was going to be important,” Ian gratefully explains. “The pandemic hasn’t limited my opportunities.” Since settling in his current location, he’s been able to sell his art at a local bazaar, allowing him to connect with a local believer with an abundance of ideas for using his art; and networking with other design professionals is opening possibilities not only for building working relationships but for sharing the hope within him.

 “When you work professionally with people, especially on something long-standing like a website, you have a lot of time to talk to people and there are more opportunities for all kinds of things,” Ian shares. “It allows me to share the reason for our hope, the reason we’re able to love other people and why I’m not a greedy businessman: because I have a Savior, and when you have a Savior, you have the blessing of knowing that enough is enough.”

“Because the gospel is in me, it springs up from me,” he says. So, he looks and prays for opportunities, asking God to give the people he encounters hearts that are fertile ground for good news.

“It’s about living out the truth of Christ’s love every day so that it can’t be ignored,” he says, whether that’s in business or in some other aspect of life. And it’s about authenticity—being able to demonstrate, through who he is and what he loves to do, that eternal hope is found in Jesus. “You can do your business in a way that shows people the gospel, and when they are dumbfounded that you’re so happy even when everything is going so badly, you can tell them why.”

As Ian seeks to authentically live out the hope within him through his career, he’s praying that God will give him the opportunity to finish the project he started in his former host country. “I don’t think that my efforts are done with that place or that people,” he says. And, as he waits for the Lord’s answer, he continues to use the professional skills he’s been given to be a light in his community. He sums it up:

“I really feel that the primary job of a cross-cultural worker is to simply do what He calls every follower to do cross-culturally. Some do it in communities that have been displaced or formed outside of their cultural homeland, and others travel 10,000 miles to a strange place. I was blessed with a capacity to go. God-inspired willingness, ability, opportunity and skills have provided me with a way to be relevant among a people that needs to hear about the love of Christ.

“I have a career and I’m very passionate about it. I believe that doing it well brings honor to God and allows me a position to show His hand on my life. I lift Him up in that environment, and He will draw people to Himself.” 

Participate Through Prayer:

  • Ask God to call more of His followers to pursue their careers in least-reached communities, seeking opportunities to share the hope within them.
  • Lift up Ian and other workers like him, praying for opportunities to share and clearly live out the gospel in the context of their careers.
  • Pray that the Lord will work through believers serving in professional roles to introduce many least-reached people to Christ.

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