An Artist's Process
By Andy Mork
Each year for the past few years the pastors have reached out to ask me to do artwork in line with the annual theme. I am humbled by the request each year, as this honor used to belong to Greta Sandquist, a professional painter and artist. Although I am an art major and teach art, I struggle with "impostor syndrome," the idea that I am pretending and eventually will be found out. Honestly, one of the reasons I still am a person of faith, is the continued faithfulness of God to give me ideas about this each year. I am amazed to find that, following the revelation of the theme, I immediately have an idea. This year was no exception.
At the mention of healing, I saw clusters of plants and leaves. I can't explain it. As an artist, I still struggle with being thankful or joyful at the completion of any of these pieces of art. Yet I realize it's not really about me. On my worst days, I struggle with feeling that I am a modern-day pharaoh, and that God is glorified through me no matter "which side" I am on. On my best days, I recognize that God works through me, and uses my images and ideas for His glory. This year that was evidenced by Pastor Steve commenting back to me, "I really like the way you made a cross in the middle with the leaves." I had no idea what he was talking about. I had to go back and look, and was amazed to see that yes, there is a cross right in the middle of the composition. I had not intended that, and yet, there it is, clear as day. May God be praised! As far as the process...
As I was thinking about this coming year's theme, a Year of Healing, I thought about many different components of healing – physical, spiritual, mental, personal, family, and in community. The abstracted organic shapes represent each of us, with green tones to show life, growth, development, and healing. The clusters of shapes are where we have intersections in family and community. We continually develop and re-develop healthy relationships. The clusters serve to block out the darkness of death, despair, depression, and broken relationships. Because healing and relationship building have unpredictable elements, I used the watercolor technique of wet-in-wet. This process you can see in the leaves, and is created by adding wet paint to wet paper, and the paint unpredictably bleeds into watery areas.
I can't wait to redevelop relationships this year with God and with you all.
- Andy, I so, so, so appreciate your openness and honesty. It is such a comfort and a blessing. Thank you!
- Your artwork is really getting a workout this year, Andy Mork! It's incorporated into our livestreaming rather extensively. Thank you so much!
- Andy, thank you for this description. Your explanation enhances the visual beauty and makes it even more enjoyable and meaningful.
- Join us this Saturday for a work day at the church! We will be outside raking, pulling weeds, picking up trash, and more. We will start at 9:00am and meet in the parking lot. Snacks and drinks will be provided! Contact Cherie at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
Being a Light for Jesus
By Charline Byakweli
“In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” (John 1:4-5)
Ever since I was a little girl, I remember praying that God would use me to be a light for His kingdom. I always desired to be like Him in this imperfect world. As I grew older, I began to understand the true meaning of being that light for Christ. It became more apparent when I started seeing how dark things in this world could be. That's when the Lord convicted me to be an example so people can see God is alive and active in the world today.
I have seen God work in many ways. My family raised me up in the Word of the Lord and the ministry of the gospel. Growing up, I found that we are nothing without Jesus, and this became my identity. When you genuinely know who Christ is in you, you continue to seek Him, and while seeking Him, He becomes more real. Our relationship with Jesus is not just “one day we understand Him and that’s it.” No, it's a lifelong journey of continuing to seek Him and growing in Him. It's such a beautiful relationship. As He pours into us, we can pour into others by being that example. People will start to notice our heart posture and see who Christ is through our lives.
This has also been evident in my work with the youth ministry. God has given me the vision to see the youth activated and extravagant in worship, and I've seen them being transformed and glorifying God in unique ways. I believe God has raised the youth and young adults up for such a time as this. When I look at the youth here at BCF, I see the future.
The past few years, I pressed in more in praying for them. This world always tries to put certain things in the media to control them. But as they see Christ being real through the youth leaders, the Holy Spirit will pour into them, and they will grow to be the light. I have been amazed at how the youth here at BCF have been growing as the youth leaders continue to pray for them. Through the impact of COVID-19 and changes in the leadership, they have continued seeking after God. It has been so astonishing to see. I am grateful to be a part of this journey with them.
I am so excited to see what the future holds for the youth and the entire body of Christ at BCF. May the Lord’s plans prosper as we continue being obedient, as we walk in the truth.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
- Happy Mother's Day to all mothers, grandmothers, women waiting to be mothers, women who have experienced the loss of a child, and spiritual mothers in our Bethel family! Thank you for loving your families and all of us well. May the Lord bless you today!
A Plan We Hadn't Imagined!
By Carissa Hertel
Twelve months ago, Ryan and I had major plans for 2020. We were about a month away from our wedding, which would be attended by friends and family from across the country. We were planning a honeymoon in Ecuador, where I had worked at a non-profit for five years. We were excited for what the year had in store, and we felt blessed that God had brought us together to begin the adventure of married life.
Then, in the course of a week, COVID shut down all the trappings of regular life. We found ourselves postponing wedding reception plans and cancelling our honeymoon. Even our appointment to apply for a marriage license was cancelled, and I began to doubt whether we would in fact get married on April 25, as originally planned.
Ryan encouraged me to have faith that God would provide a way to get married on our intended date. We worked with Pastor Andrew and others from Bethel to reimagine what a wedding under COVID restrictions could look like, complete with a Zoom feed for our immediate family to watch from their living rooms. In the end, we did get married on April 25 and even had a “drive by reception” with local friends and family outside our house. It was a lovely day that looked nothing like what I had imagined.
When I think about how God has been real in our life over the past year, I’m reminded of Isaiah 55:9, where God says, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” We had thoughts and plans for a big wedding and many other things over the past year. Due to the pandemic, we were forced to ask, “What is most essential in a wedding and in our lives?”
We found that God stripped away many distractions this past year. With so many activities cancelled, Ryan and I were able to invest more in our marriage. With no other Sunday plans, we were able to invest time in co-leading a Church without Walls group. And instead of an international honeymoon, we are savoring each day at home with our newborn son Elijah, who God brought into our life in late February. We are so grateful for the ways our church family has walked with us through this journey. They helped us replan a wedding. We prayed together during weekly Zoom Bible study. They checked in on us when we couldn’t meet in person. And now they shower us with meals as we have become a family of three. God has been good through it all.