Congo Journal 8

Painting Congo

Several weeks ago, I spent an evening with my five-year-old grandson, Henry, and his four-year-old friend, Emerson. To thank me for playing with Emerson while she attended a meeting, Emerson’s mom, Sarah, gave me a beautiful handmade basket from Ghana. Beautiful things hold center stage in Sarah’s life—from the beauty of her tender heart to the beauty of the images that fill her canvases. After designing the Ten for Congo banner above, Sarah began  a new series of paintings she describes below. She also waits and prays for the child she and her husband are adopting from Ghana, and teaches classes on creativity. You can follow Sarah’s blog at http://www.cartersgroundswell.com/

Guest Post: Sarah Carter

 “We have to be braver than we think we can be, because God is constantly calling us to be more than we are.”
—Madeleine L’Engle

I am a painter. I am also an advocate. More and more, I believe they compliment each other in the most wonderful ways. Art is a heart language that reaches beyond dialects and barriers to connect us to one another. Great art has a way of mending broken bits of ourselves, reclaiming beauty and goodness and creation back to the way it’s all meant to be. So beautiful.

Over the last few years, God challenged the way I was thinking about tithing. What do we mean when we say give away 10 percent? When did we decide this tithe was only related to financial giving? What would it look like to expand our view to include not only 10 percent of our finances, but other parts of our lives as well?

In response, God opened my eyes to a million tiny ways I can use my creativity and art to fundraise, stir up awareness, and inspire others to do the same. This new approach to tithing has led me to homes for children in Ghana who have been rescued out of slavery. To stateside families who are hoping to adopt—and climbing the intimidating mountain of costs involved. Most recently, it’s led me to Congo.

I’m currently working on a series of ten portraits inspired by Congo that I will exhibit in a gallery. I will donate 10 percent of the proceeds from the sale of the paintings to World Relief. By donating a portion of my proceeds, I hope to use the gifts God has given me to creatively bless and empower and support the people in our world who most desperately need it.

Sometimes when we see the vast need we can feel overwhelmed and a bit hopeless at our ability to really affect change. When I read about the situation in Congo, my heart breaks: “Over 5 million people have died, making it the deadliest conflict since World War II. Millions more had to flee the violence in their villages, becoming ‘internally displaced people’ living in temporary, squalid camps. A major weapon of war in the Congo is rape.”

Sadly, thinking we are too small to make a difference prevents many of us from ever giving God the chance to take our tiny gift and multiply it. For me, God asked me not to look at how big the problems are and far we have to go, but to take this moment and all that it holds and ask how I can use what I have. I’d love to offer the same invitation to you. Consider for a moment what you are already doing in your day-to-day life. Look around at the needs in your own backyard, in the greater church, and the world. How can you use what you already have to make a difference? Do you own a business, work in retail, teach, lead, write, create, dance, sing, mother? Perhaps you could creatively use your space to host a fundraising event to support relief efforts in Congo. Or choose a day and donate 10 percent of the proceeds from your business. Or educate and raise awareness. Do you love to cook? Wonderful! Host a bake sale, create a recipe book or offer lessons—and donate the proceeds.

We may not all be able to write a big check, but we each have countless ways we can tithe our giftedness and creativity to make a difference for the people of Congo.