In my early days of attempting to be an artist, whether in dance, music, or singing, I really struggled with actually labeling myself as such.
“Not I,” says I
As a child I discovered a deep love for movement, but because we couldn’t afford dance classes, I just relied on what came out of my own experience as well as intermittent workshops that would come along once or twice a year.
Once I reached college and discovered that modern dance was an open class that I could actually take for credit, I signed up right away. But my excitement quickly faded as I came across fellow students who had dance experience and incredible technique that I so clearly lacked. I continued taking the class and had the option to advance, but because the next level involved a lot of improvisation and my dance vocabulary was so limited, I chose to just repeat the first level.
Again, as a singer and musician, aside from spending my senior year of high school taking drum lessons from a great instructor Dean Kransler, I had no formal training. I just had a desire to lead worship and to do it with the aid of an instrument, so I asked God to help me learn, and He made it happen. Our public library also had a great selection of instrument instructional aids, so I frequently used those as well.
Even so, my knowledge was still basic, so it took a lot of encouragement to get me to be comfortable with playing on stage alone. When you consider yourself an intermediate player, it’s very easy to talk yourself out of putting yourself on display like that, and even if you do get the guts to do it, it’s usually accompanied with a serious case of the shakes and the Big D.
Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Coming to Kenya, I still carried that baggage of “Am I really a dancer?” “Can I call myself a musician?” and though I was invited to a number of churches to sing, the members of the worship teams intimidated me so much (not on purpose of course) that I typically struggled to play as freely as I could have.
It wasn’t until Ray and I found ourselves in the position of answering a call from God to teach others to use their artistic gifts to glorify Him and bring transformation to Kenyan culture that I realized I no longer had time to question the gifts God had given me. There were kids in my charge that were looking to me for instruction, and all of a sudden I became the expert.
Now I tried to throw a pity party in the beginning and asked God to find someone else to teach so I could just coordinate classes and write curriculum, but He kept persisting that He had been preparing me for this; I just needed to trust Him follow His lead. Sound familiar? Moses and I have much in common.
The hidden revealed
Surprisingly, to me… not so much to God, as I’ve been putting together lessons for classes as well as our overall curriculum, God has really been expanding my abilities and insight. Suddenly music theory is beginning to make sense, and as I grasp a concept, I’m able to package it in a way that the kids can understand, with the help of my husband who helps me tailor it to this specific culture.
Though I now am gaining the confidence to call myself an artist, I think the point of this lesson was to teach me that even before I picked up an instrument or waved my arm or sang a note, I was an artist because that’s who God designed me to be. When He created me He gave me those gifts, and no matter how little or how much time I spent developing the gift, it could never detract from who I was… who I am. The fact that I didn’t have the courage to call myself that didn’t change the fact that it was who God called me, and everything He declares is true and immutable.
Some of my favorite stories are of people who had no experience in a field God called them to, but discovered a talent or a passion that they never knew existed within. It’s those kinds of stories that ensure God gets total credit, you know? He’s the one who raised this person up for such a time, and He’ll be the one to remove the person when their time comes to an end. As long as the person chooses to simply remain a vessel the Lord can use, the possibilities are really limitless.
Before I close, I want to share a quick update on our ministry. For those of you that don’t know, we’re working with a ministry called Mattaw Children’s Village here in Kitale. They have about 100 kids that they rescue and bring into a family setting to release them from the title of “orphan”. We work with 30 of their kids training them in music, vocal, dance, and drama.
Our aim is to equip them with artistic skills and mentor them as believers so that they can use their talents in evangelism and worship/prayer settings. Art is a huge component of any culture, and we believe that young people can use this particular sphere to influence many in this nation.
We have a fund raiser going on at the moment that we’d love your support in, whether it be through sharing, praying, or donating. Our fund raising site explains more about what exactly the fund raiser is for, but basically we’re hoping to acquire more instruments for our budding musicians as well as modest outfits for some of the girls that desire to learn contemporary dance.
It’s been crazy fun getting to know these wonderful kids and to see their growth as we walk through this process with them. We greatly appreciate all the of the support that we’ve received from you all, especially in the realm of prayer, and we look forward to sharing more with you in the future as these world changers utilize all that our partnership with you has made possible.