“I truly believe that God introduces himself to us as the Creator first, on purpose … In the beginning God created. And if we’re made in the image of God, … what a coincidence that our creativity is probably also our worship.”
Before artist Brian Peterson created the renowned mural that embraces the walls of the Western Carolina Rescue Ministries in Asheville, North Carolina, he’d found his calling to ministry with Faces of Santa Ana, later expanded to Faces of Mankind.
The ministry began when Brian started reach ing out to vulnerable people in his community, asking to paint their portraits. The proceeds from the sale of a portrait then went, and today still go, to the needs of the person in the portrait. For Brian, art and ministry go hand in hand.
”[Art] has taught me how to worship God, understand God, and connect with people. And so, imagine what I do, looking at a blank canvas for hours on end, painting a stranger, asking God what he sees in the stranger. Before we ever deep dive into any relationship, it’s a communication of communion, a conversation with God, of how do you see this person that the world has sort of extradited from society. And so it’s that creative process for me that helps my heart connect with God so that I can walk out into the world and show people grace, mercy, and love.”
What started as a simple way for Brian to fulfill God’s purpose for his life turned into a discipleship ministry. Artists in places like Anaheim, California; Jackson, Mississippi; Detroit, Michigan; and most recently in the United Kingdom have contacted Brian to ask how to carry on his ministry in their home cities.
“I honestly feel often like, ‘God, what are You doing? You’re making something that’s bigger than me, like people’s lives are being touched, and I’m not even in that city,’ ” Brian said. And it’s where he saw potential to activate artists who are waiting to understand their purpose.
“A lot of artists are waiting and trying to understand why do I have this ability to create and how do I use it for God’s Kingdom? That’s a huge question that artists are always asking themselves. I think there’s greater things that are available to artists who have giftings that they can use for Christ,” he said.
The reach that Brian has doesn’t stop with the subjects of his paintings, or with the artists who join his ministry. It also is extended to the people who buy the paintings, who often tell Brian that they connected with the struggles or stories of the people he paints. “I believe art is supernatural,” Brian said. “Those [connections] are supernatural … God moments that only He could create.”
Check out Brian's Instagram page for more of his artwork.
Photo courtesy of Brian Peterson