I’ve seen the Spirit move through art

Who knew social media could bring over 50 recovering addicts from The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center to a place of hope, through art?

After admiring the work of Bay Area artist Brian Arriaga, we reached out. Through different pieces of his artwork, it was clear he is a believer with a testimony of transformation and faith. 

After weeks of planning, he came to Southern California to create a mural for a communal space at The Salvation Army Santa Monica Corps. Hundreds of individuals, with the most diverse of backgrounds, walk through this courtyard each week. Many of them carry the physical and intangible weight of their lives. 

To highlight the new addition to our building, and the amazing talent of our friend, we planned an event called CREATE to encourage others. Six acts, eight individuals and all kinds of musical styles invited all attendeesthe Lord’s creationto worship him by creating. The Spirit was moving in the celebration, and it was evident.

At the event, men with arms wrapped around each other, danced to the music that enveloped the outdoor space—an undeniable display of their culture of unity and support. Smiles expressed nothing but freedom. One man in the back, with five years of sobriety, went from wall to wall, raising his hands to the music. Another, with almost three years, stood in the front, his eyes fixated on the one with the microphone. His body couldn’t help but to move with the beat. Another, just a few weeks of sobriety under his belt, quietly listened as he took his pen to draw with a soundtrack of joy in the background. 

Adding to the atmosphere, our guest, Brian, came out to share his prophetic words of inspiration and encouragement to the men and women before him. The Lord had clearly placed a word on his heart, and he beautifully and faithfully relayed it. Here is an artist, a disciple of God, who uses his platform to fearlessly and unapologetically proclaim the good news, and his freedom in Christ. The Spirit was moving in the listening, and it was evident.

In the closing of this evening, each friend who came received a notebook with the following words: “Enjoy this small gift from us to you…We pray you would fill these blank pages with words, ideas, art and reflection. May God increase within you a desire to share openly and honestly from your heart to his.”

Restoration, healing, self, hope and many other life-giving experiences can be found through all forms of artistic expression.

Colossians 3:17 says, “Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.” God has given us each talents. How are you using yours to grow the kingdom and glorify him?

We are not created to live in complacency and merely watch as things happen around us. We, as the body, are in a position to create. We have been created to create. Art is not bound to painting on a blank canvas or Pinterest crafting. In fact, the whole purpose of art is self-expression. It is not bound to visual displays, either. Art is a creation from heart to representation.

This may look like using your writing skills to create a new Bible study curriculum for a ministry you are connected to. Maybe you are skilled at expression through performing and theatrical arts. In this case, create a performance of your personal testimony and share it with others. If you have skills and knowledge in carpentry, create a new shelf to help organize donations at your place of worship. Some other artistic outlets may include music, poetry, painting, writing, photography, speaking, graphic design, building/fixing, upcycling, baking and spoken word. The spirit is moving through each, and it is evident.

He has given us all unique gifts, talents and passions. Maybe you have one that you have not yet explored. Take time to find your passion and practice it. Explore how you can use your interests and grow them into talents. How you can use your talents and grow them with passion. Then use that passion to grow the kingdom, share your story and glorify Christ.

We serve a creative God of redemption and restoration. The Spirit is moving in your life. Use your creations to make it evident. 

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Lauren Birks

Lauren Birks is the Administrative and Program Assistant at the Santa Monica Corps in Southern California.