When Mako Fujimura came to the U.S. from Japan in 1990, he was amazed to meet many artists who had grown up in Christian homes but rejected the church and their faith. "It's shocking how many of them there are," says the New York painter.
These artists, many at the top of their field, grew up hearing the gospel. "But their creativity was not welcomed," Fujimura says; many now live lives far from their Christian upbringing. He prayed about how to minister to them.
In Japan, Fujimura's art had provided a powerful way to share the gospel when artists, critics, dealers, and collectors he met through his shows would ask about the spiritual content of his work. Their response was so overwhelming that he asked Christian leaders to help him set up a structure to reach out to them. The resulting ministry, International Arts Movement (I AM), has branches in New York and Japan.
"Many times the church is blessed with creative people but doesn't have the right perspective to empower them," Fujimura says. I AM attempts to fill the gap. Artists meet together in cell groups to support, mentor, and disciple one another.
I AM also hosts events where Christianity can be explored through artistic expression. Says Fujimura, "If you're called to be an artist, you're called to be in the world but not of it. Therefore, you need accountability, you need prayer, you need groups that understand your creative side."
ADULT SHOW AND TELL Like Fujimura, Chicagoan Dave Carlson, whose production company makes television commercials and music videos, also has a passion to provide a safe place for artists. Six years ago, after learning that a member of his Bible-study group was a poet, Carlson hosted an "Art Night" so members of the group and their friends could ...