Arts Release is a creative arts ministry of WEC International, a network of WEC workers who love Jesus and the peoples of the world. We exist to help followers of Jesus express their faith through artistic forms most meaningful to each person and culture.

Juan, a WEC worker in the Basque region of Spain, agrees: ‘One of the most effective ways to reach Basque hearts is to use elements of their unique culture. They have their own forms of dance and literature, and a special form of poetry in which a group of people get together and improvise a song around a theme.’

Arts Release also gives training in oral teaching methods, heart music, art for prayer and outreach, drama skills, and more. Just as drama adds impact, our visual artists find that images open up conversations of many kinds. Fiona Fung painted a striking, surrealistic image of the dying Christ lying on water, bleeding with passion for the world and God’s redemptive purposes for all people. Another artist depicted the dynamic power of God’s Holy Spirit in abstract, vibrant, swirling colours, giving opportunity to communicate that God isn’t distant; he’s here today - in power. Such images pose searching questions: Do I know the presence, passion, purpose and power of God in my life?

In March, Arts Release musician Tim Fung led song-writing workshops in Burkina Faso. When Arts Release worship bands play songs from various countries and in diverse languages, people whose roots are in those places are visibly touched. Familiar sounds connect to their upbringing at a very deep level. As a Tibetan song puts it, ‘The sound of the Tibetan lute is like my mother’s voice.’

As a result of a song writing workshop, young Basque musicians wrote and recorded nine songs onto CD. Later, at an evangelistic outreach, a Basque woman asked the team for a CD of the songs the band had played. She wanted to hear and share the songs, and acknowledged her need of Jesus. These are just a few examples of the capacity God has given the arts to speak, to heal, and to motivate. Yes, the arts really do strike home!

We continue to expand geographically, with members in four European countries and ministry on multiple continents. Artistically as well. Our skills now include music, drama, storytelling, painting, collage and writing.

Over the past nine years Arts Release has run workshops in 12 countries. God has graciously given more than 100 songs to believers in 25 languages.

Our collective passion is to see the arts have an increasing impact in helping people move towards Christ, grow in their faith, and express their love for him and his purposes. Interested? Check out the sites below and don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Web: media @loveartsrelease

Ian Collinge

As an ethnomusicologist, Ian teaches on cross-cultural and multicultural worship at All Nations College and London School of Theology in the UK. Together with his wife Helen he leads Arts Release, aiming to raise up more artists for cross-cultural ministry.

This article originally appeared in the Winter 2018 edition of the WEC NZ magazine GoInto. Used with permission.