Art and the Holy Spirit
“Esta” was a tour guide for Italian tourists in her Middle Eastern country. To prepare for this job, she studied all things Italian. She learned Italian and was drawn to Renaissance art. While looking at a book of paintings by Leonardo DaVinci, she paused at his painting of the baptism of Christ. Esta wondered what was going on. Who is the man pouring the water and why? Why is there a pigeon, and what is the meaning of the hands at the top of the painting? Her curiosity grew as she looked at more art, such as the Pietá by Michelangelo. As she poured over Italian art illustrating the stories of the Bible, her desire to know those stories grew. Could it be that the Holy Spirit was drawing her to Jesus through art?
When she came to the USA to study, she knew this was her chance to read the Bible and satisfy her desire to know Bible stories. After being introduced at one of our Bridges events, I began meeting her regularly for coffee and English conversation. I soon realized she wanted to read the Bible, but I had no idea why she was interested in the Bible.
We started reading by using the PODS, a discipleship tool developed by Bridges. We read about Jesus’ birth and events in his life, like forgiving the woman who wiped his feet with her tears. We talked about forgiveness. Esta told me the Pharisees reminded her of other rigid religious rulers she knew of. We read about the death of Jesus and his resurrection. At each critical juncture (like the discussion of grace and works) I thought she would want to stop reading. But that was not the case.
Conversation Art Cards
As I was developing the Conversation Art Cards (CAC), I would try them out on her. This is when I discovered her passion for art. I still marvel at the Holy Spirit’s creativity to draw her attention to Jesus through art.
Esta went on to help lead other students in Bible discussion by using the Conversation Art Cards. Then, having led CAC for a semester, she suggested the group study the end of the world (not a topic I would suggest). Even so, it was a topic that interested the group. In the end, each person illustrated a picture of Jesus knocking at the door of their lives.
Esta became like a daughter to me. We read and laughed together, and spent holidays together with our families. We shared our struggles and times of desperation. We saw God answer many prayers, some that seemed rather unlikely. The truth from the Bible and the experience of God answering prayer was profound and even exhilarating.
We are still reading together, four years later. And yes, she trusts in Jesus Christ and calls herself a Christian. Last spring, she told me that Easter is her favorite holiday.
Does the Holy Spirit use art to draw people to know Jesus? He does. Never underestimate the creativity of the Holy Spirit to use a painting to draw someone to faith in Jesus Christ.
- PODS is Bridges’ discipleship curriculum called the Profile of a Discipled Student.
- Jane used Picture This: How Pictures Work by Molly Bang to help her students create illustrations.
- Jane developed Conversation Art Cards to naturally guide conversations to deeper things. The art and related topics help gain insight into a person’s perspective on the world and on life and faith.
This image of the Pietà is available on Wikimedia Commons.is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 International License.
The image of The Baptism of Christ is also on Wikimedia Commons and is in the Public Domain.