By Dave Bonney
God, the greatest of all creators, the One who fashioned the Sun, and the humpback whale, and the eagle, made us in God’s image. The Divine image has been stamped upon us. We alone are made in the image of God. God has given us the glorious task of representing God on the earth, of showing the world what our God is really like and showing the watching world that our God is a creative master who loves to bring beauty out of chaos.
“He has filled them with skill to do every sort of work done by an engraver or by a designer or by an embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, or by a weaver by any sort of workman or skilled designer.” (Exodus 35:35)
In Ghana, a Christian artist by the name of Francis Nunoo had a vision of helping children find their God-given talents so they could express themselves. Sir Nunoo (as he is called by the children) believes that every child has creative talents, given by God, waiting to be discovered. Nunoo would go into the ghettos of Accra and set up boards covered with plain paper. With containers of colorful acrylic paints, he would start painting landscape scenes. Groups of street children would gather around him to watch. He soon had dozens of children painting individual works. The sight of this would cause many more people to gather around to watch. This was his opportunity to share the gospel and his commitment to Jesus Christ.
On one of these
While on a mission trip to Ghana in 2015, I met Nunoo and was impressed with his program. Smithville UMC provided a small donation to the program and many needed supplies were made available to the school. In August 2016, I was invited as a representative of SUMC to speak at an art festival open to the community. The purpose of the festival was to show the parents and the community what could happen when God-given talents were found and expressed.
As I approached the school, I found the area very depressing. It looked as if the school was built in a landfill. Everything around it was bare or covered with brown dust. There was debris and human waste everywhere. Once I reached the walled school and entered into the compound the transformation was amazing. The yard was clean and there were bright and vibrant colors everywhere, paintings and tapestries, tie-dyed fabrics and colorful woven baskets. All the students and teachers were in colorful Africa wear.
A number of different schools, community members and three news stations attended the event. The combination art festival and talent show
The students also became more observant of the world around them and improved in all subjects at the school, thereby improving the school pass rate. Donations from SUMC provided a laptop, digital camera
This year, I was invited as a missionary from Smithville UMC to participate in a new program called Mastermind and Technology. The program has 37 students from five different schools. The children meet for two hours after school, four days a week and six hours every Sunday.
The program uses volunteers from the community, local officials, business leaders, local authors
In May, I visited four primary schools in Ghana and, as a missionary from SUMC, spoke to a number of classrooms. The main purpose was to invite students to attend an open event at Mastermind and Technology. I spoke about different ways to worship and to show appreciation for what God is doing for us. I was also asked to talk about the creative passions and skills that God has given each of us and how it is our responsibility to develop and share our talent. I also encouraged
The expected attendance for the May 20 event was 200 to 300, but the actual attendance was closer to 500 parents and children. It was very successful, with visiting officials and parents awed and entertained. The outside wall of the building was covered with sheets of paper and children of all ages were expressing themselves with colorful acrylic paints. There were games, face painting and demonstrations of technological inventions and crafts. They saw beautiful art, woven baskets and other crafts, poetry recitations, dance performances and speakers praising the presence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of these children. The dance crews performed very energetic dances all choreographed to contemporary Christian music.
SUMC supported the program with paint supplies and a donation of a slide projector. The program hopes to have a permanent building in the near future. The number of children, both Muslim and Christian, attending Mastermind and Technology is increasing. Please pray that these art programs continue to help children find the gifts and talents provided by God and more importantly how they can use their individual talents to bring beauty to a chaotic world.