About a week ago, I got back from my second ministry trip this year with Theresa Dedmon, who is the director of Bethel’s Creative Arts Department. We hosted a “Create Supernaturally” conference in Taiwan at Taipei Bread of Life Church, and we also got to visit and bless many other organizations and churches, including 101 Church (which sits on the top of the Taipei 101 building, the tallest building four years ago) and Makoto Fujimura’s art gallery. I chose my favorites encounters and testimonies to share with you all in this post.
Heaven on Earth
Makoto Fujimura’s Art Gallery
On Tuesday afternoon (12/1) we had the opportunity to visit an art gallery in Taipei, Taiwan. Owned by a lady named Ginny, this art gallery celebrates the works of internationally-renown artist Makoto Fujimura (see his bio here).
Makoto’s work is absolutely stunning. He uses rocks and minerals, which are pounded into powder and then made into paint-like paste, to create his remarkable pieces. He also applies layers upon layers of gold and silver directly onto his canvases, which makes you wonder how absolutely free and committed one must be as an artist in order to create so extravagantly and freely—each of his paintings is worth millions. But the result is undeniable beauty. When you look at his paintings, after a few minutes, you begin to see visions of heaven, reflections of God’s throne room in Revelation 4, with all the gold and precious stones, surrounded by the glory of God.
At the end of the tour, Theresa had our team prophesy over Ginny and the art gallery, which had only opened a few months earlier. We prayed for wisdom and revelation for Ginny to utilize creative ways to engage the audience with the art.
Theresa gave a great suggestion to Ginny that included putting out samples of the crushed stone before they were made into paint, to symbolize the crushing of our lives and God’s ability to turn our brokenness into beauty. This way, when people view the art, they will be able to appreciate the hard work it took to create each piece but also the way that they can relate personally to the process it took to create each painting.
We are God’s paintings, His masterpieces. And sometimes, it feels like He is crushing something in our lives. It’s painful, but at the end of the day when we’re shown the whole picture, we realize that He used that pain to create something absolutely stunning in our lives.
I also sang and released a prophetic song over the art gallery, “Let heaven come. Let heaven come to earth. Release Your presence and power in this place. Open heavens in this place.” My prayer was that every person who will come into this art gallery will experience supernatural healing and restoration when they look at Makoto’s paintings. When I was done, Ginny and a few others, who were also there, had tears in their eyes. You could feels God’s weighty presence in the room.
Following this experience, I received a greater revelation of what God wants to do through the creative arts, in this day and age. The time is coming. God is restoring the Arts back to the Church, and the sooner Christians realize that Art is the key to redefining culture, the sooner we can partner with Him to bring about a Kingdom Renaissance that will transform the world and release the next great revival.
I pray that He will raise up more Makoto’s who have a vision to release God’s glory and beauty through the art that they create, and that they will create with such a strong prophetic anointing that every person who sees their art will be drawn up into a heavenly encounter with God.
Reconciliation & Restoration of Dreams & Destiny
On Tuesday evening, our team ministered at Bread of Life’s Supernatural School of Worship. Theresa asked me to share my testimony about restoration and reconciliation with my dad and how it impacted my dreams and destiny.
I ended up sharing this testimony at least three times throughout the duration of our ministry trip. And each time we saw tons of people experience inner healing and breakthrough. It’s a story that many Chinese people can relate to or have had similar experiences in their childhood, and that is why I believe it is so powerful. I’m very thankful to God and Theresa for the opportunity to share this testimony.
Here is my story of reconciliation and restoration:
When I was growing up, my mom was piano teacher, so naturally I started learning the instrument at a very young age. When I was eight years old, I entered a piano competition. Since my mom was busy overseeing the rest of her students, my dad was in charge of supervising me. He took me to my assigned location, a small private room with a piano and three stoic judges sitting in the corner.
I was so nervous. I messed up multiple times throughout my performance, and I couldn’t wait for it to be over.
When it finally was, I came out of the room, and my dad was standing outside waiting for me. By the look on his face, I knew I was in trouble.
Immediately, he began scolding me, “That was horrible! How could you play so badly?! You didn’t practice at all, did you? Your mom is the piano teacher—what are other people going to think?!” His words like daggers tore at my little heart, and tears streamed down my face. I was scared and ashamed.
That evening, when the whole competition was finally over, I ran straight to my mom, with tears in my eyes, and cried, “I never want to play piano again!”
So, just like that, I quit piano. I picked up the violin instead. For five years, I played the violin, and, while I enjoyed it, I never felt like music was ‘my thing.’ Alternatively, I began to immerse myself in drawing and writing as my main artistic outlet.
This all happened shortly before my parents became Christians. Now, fast-forward five years. One night, when I was thirteen years old, my dad had a dream.
He dreamed that he was a terrorist. He had a special weapon, which was a chewing gum that, if he chewed it and spit it out, would explode and kill people. He ran all over the streets, chewing and spitting out gum, blowing people up, left and right. At the end of his dream, he climbed to the top of a high tower and chewed his biggest gum yet. Then he jumped out of the window, killing everyone along with him.
He jolted out of his sleep, trembling. Then he shook my mother awake and told her his dream. “That was the most horrible nightmare!” He said, “It must not be from God…”
But my mom, wise as she is, suggested otherwise, “Maybe you should pray about it. I think there is more to the dream that you realize.” So my dad closed his eyes and began to wait upon the Lord.
Immediately, God took him back to when I was eight-years-old at the piano competition. He watched the whole event unfold before his eyes like a movie in slow motion, as God played back each moment, scene by scene.
He watched the expressions on his daughter’s face, the impact of his words as they came shooting out of his mouth, “You’re not good enough! What are other people going to think?” His words were like bombs that exploded in my face, shattering dreams and lodging shrapnel deep in my eight-year-old heart. He watched me run towards my mom with tears streaming down my face, crying, “I never want to play piano again!”
And suddenly he realized: he was the terrorist and his words were the chewing gum. With his words, he was killing the dreams of the people around him whom he loved, including the dreams of his daughter.
When he realized this, immediately my dad got out of bed and came into my room. It was still early in the morning, so he tapped me gently. “Melody.” When I woke up, he told me about his dream and asked, “Do you still remember when you were eight-years-old and this happened?”
“Hmm… yes, I think I do,” I said.
“Will you please forgive me?” he asked. “Will you forgive Daddy for the way I spoke to you and hurt you that day?”
“Yes, okay,” I said. He held my hand and placed it upon his head. I prayed, “God, I forgive my dad for what he did and the words he said. I forgive him for hurting me with his anger and disappointment.”
He thanked me and then placed his hand on my head. “Lord, I bless Melody. I cut off the generational curses that affected me when I was a child and that are now affecting her, and I release her to step into her full potential and destiny. I ask that You restore her heart and restore the full inheritance that You intended for her—the gift of music.”
A few weeks later, my dad came home from work one day and heard someone playing the piano. That’s weird, he thought, because usually the only time people would play was during my mom’s piano lessons. He came into the living room and there I was, sitting at the piano, singing and playing, for the first time in five years.
For months afterwards, I began playing the piano for hours a day. I still remember that year; I wrote the most songs within a short period of time. I was even asked to write the theme song for my children’s conference that summer. The song was called, “I Know Who I Am,” and, to this day, this song is still used and taught in the children ministry at my church.
Now, I consider myself to be fully restored in my dreams and destiny. I continue to write songs, and I’m seeing God open doors all over the place for my music to be heard, including at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland (see earlier post. I wrote a song for the United Nations, and they are now considering it for their 50th anniversary).
God is so good at rewriting our stories. Imagine if I had never experienced reconciliation with my dad about this issue. The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy our destinies, often through the hurtful words of those close to us in our childhood. But God can restore us. He is the expert at redeeming hearts and dreams. He is able to call forth the destiny He placed inside of us at a young age, and it’s never too late.
“剛強壯膽 Strong & Courageous”
Near the end of the meeting, Theresa asked me to sing a prophetic song over someone in the congregation. I looked around. There was a man sitting in the very back row, with one arm across his chest and the other hand upon his face, slowly stroking his mustache. “Pick him,” I felt God say.
The moment I called him up, a roar swept across the room. Students were howling and apparently very happy that I picked him. Turns out, he is one of Bread of Life’s young adult pastors, as well as the Creative Arts pastor. His name is Timothy Yen.
When he stood in front of me, I closed my eyes and began to sing, “剛強壯膽. Be strong and courageous, Timothy. Do not be terrified. You are a mighty warrior, and the Lord is bringing you into the Promised Land. Be strong and courageous.”
When I finished, the whole room was silent, and I asked him, “What did that mean to you?”
He explained, “Ever since I turned 40, every year, I would give myself a new name, a name that represents what I feel like God is doing in my life.”
I thought, That is very cool. My dad does the same thing. Each year, he gives himself a ‘new name’ that he feels like God wants him to go after in the new year, because names are very powerful. They represent the character and destiny of a person. And each time God changed the name of someone in the Bible, that person was completely transformed, and their character and destiny was shifted to fit the new name that God gave them, e.g. Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, Jacob to Israel, and Saul to Paul.
Timothy continued, “Just a week ago, my wife and I were praying, and we decided that my new name for 2016 would be ‘剛強壯膽 (Strong and Courageous).’”
The whole room gasped and cheered, and so did I. Thank you, Jesus! I began jumping up and down, super excited that my prophetic song meant more to him than just an encouraging word. It was a confirmation of what God had been speaking to him just a few days ago.
The next day at church, Pastor Timothy came to me again and told me how much my prophetic song had impacted him. He shared with me the story behind his new name “剛強壯膽 (Strong and Courageous),” which had to do with his recent breakthrough following a very difficult season of his life. He said that Bill Johnson’s book “Strengthen Yourself In the Lord” was also a great help to him during this season.
I was very encouraged. I thought, this is such a simple thing for God! I didn’t do anything except sing the very first thing that came to my mind. Thank for speaking through me, God, and confirming this word to Pastor Timothy!
God loves talking to and through His children—and that includes you and me!
Healing Through Arts & Music
On Thursday morning (12/3), I taught a 2-hour workshop on “Healing Through Arts & Music” for a class of roughly 200 students (and I taught it all in Mandarin! Woohoo!). I shared testimonies about the power of art and music to release healing—body, soul and spirit. Then, we spent most of the time “activating” the students, i.e. having them draw prophetic pictures and sing spontaneous songs over each other for physical and spiritual healing.
We had quite a few students come up to give their testimonies from the class. Here are a few of them:
One of my TA’s, Jeremy, drew a picture of an ear. A lady who was deaf in her right ear came up, and Jeremy placed his drawing on her ear. After he prayed for her briefly, he asked, “Do you hear any improvement?” She turned off her hearing aid and tested it out. “Yes, I do!” she exclaimed. Then I said, “I would like to sing over your ear.” After I finished singing, she tested it out again and said, “It’s even better now!”
One girl had drawn a picture of precious jewels and gems. She gave it to her partner and said that it represented Revelation 4, the throne room of God. When her partner saw the picture, he was so amazed. He had recently just started a new business in Taiwan, and his company deals with the trade of precious jewels and gems. This experience taught him that God not only cares about his soul but also his business!
Another lady, after hearing my song “Beauty Arise,” was very touched by the lyrics, “Why do you hide your face from being seen?” She was very impacted by the song and felt God beckoning her to stop hiding. Just then, Tiffannie, my other TA, sang a prophetic song over her, without knowing what this lady was thinking, and she began to sing about stepping out of fear and knowing that she is beautiful. At once the lady began to cry. She was very touched by the love of God—the sweet and tender love of God.
It just goes to show that God sees and knows every thought in people’s hearts, and when we partner with the Holy Spirit to confirm or release these prophetic words, it unlocks people to experience His love in an even more tangible way.
Many other students came up to share their testimonies, and there were many tears. It was amazing to see how the Holy Spirit was able to open up hearts and release breakthrough through the simple activation of drawing pictures and singing songs over each other.
I feel like, a big reason why this works is because drawing pictures and singing songs for each other is a very childlike thing to do. In a way, through “activation,” we are giving people permission to be like children again. And when we do, the Holy Spirit is able to intervene in incredible ways. He is able to release freedom, love, and restoration in an even greater way than through the traditional “sermon” or “lecture” that is so adult-like.
God wants us to be like children—and the thing about children is that they are all creative! As Picasso once said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”
Outreach at the Park
On Friday afternoon (12/4), we took about 400 students out into the streets for a creative community outreach. In the middle of a park, we set up booths for balloons, face painting, and prophetic drawings, or “Christmas cards.” We also sent out small groups of people to bless businesses and sing prophetic songs over people in and around the park. Many people, including children and parents, were touched by the love of God that day.
One of them was a young mother with a baby stroller. Theresa was talking with her when she called me over to bless this lady with a prophetic song. I sang, “I am so proud of you. You are so beautiful to me. Do you know it?” When I finished, Theresa made a balloon animal and gave it to her, saying, “I feel like God wants you to know that you are a good mother. Sometimes you don’t think you are a good mother. Is this true?”
“Yes, it’s true,” the mother said, and Theresa encouraged and prayed for her some more. Then she led her to the Christmas cards booth, where a lady gave this young mother a prophetic card and told her, “I feel like God wants you to know that you are a good mother.” She had no idea that Theresa had just said the same thing to her a few minutes earlier. The lady broke down in tears.
Just then, a woman reporter, who was nearby documenting for Asia for Jesus, recognized the young mother; they used to be classmates in elementary school. They were able to reconnect, and the reporter encouraged this lady to come to Bread of Life’s Christmas event at the end of the year.
I didn’t hear about the whole story until later that day. After I heard it, I was reminded that, sometimes, it takes a few swings to hit a home run. God is so good. He set up every one of us in that order—Theresa, myself, the Christmas card, the reporter—to knock upon the door of this lady’s heart, to show her that He really does see her, and He cares deeply for her. He also really wanted her to know that she is a good mother, so he gave the same prophetic word to two people.
That is just one story from that afternoon. I was in charge of all the “Christmas carolers” who went out to bless people in the park with prophetic songs. Many, if not all of them, came back with testimonies. One man was so happy that our Christmas carolers sang a song for him that he wanted to sing a song for them in return! One lady was so touched that she cried. Another man was amazed by the spot-on accuracy of one guy’s prophetic song, which was more like word of knowledge released in song-form.
When people experience a flood of God’s love, which may look like a succession of coincidental encounters, bits of coldness and unbelief are chipped away until there is no more doubt in their hearts that Papa God sees them and fully embraces them. And all it takes, on our part, is a willing heart to partner with the Holy Spirit, the love of God in our hearts, and 20 seconds of courage (enough to step across “the chicken line”). Then we will see Him do the impossible.
Salvation on the Spot
SiEn’s Painting, “Anchor”
For the young adult service on Saturday night (12/5), Theresa asked SiEn to paint on stage during worship, and she asked me to write a short song to go along with it. So, after worship, she called us up to present our pieces and give them out to people in the congregation. SiEn asked if there was anyone present who had recently come back from an overseas business trip; she felt like her painting was for this person.
When the man who fit her description came on stage, she began to describe to him her painting and the interpretation behind it. She had painted an anchor on top of a red background, which represented God’s redemption and faithfulness towards him. God is his security and protection, and He will keep him standing firm. While SiEn was speaking, tears were streaming down this man’s face. Clearly, it was impacting him deeply.
Then I shared the short song I had written to go along with the painting. I sang, “I am your protection. I will keep you safe. Stop running away from me. I am a safe place. I love you, always.”
By this time, the man was shaking and bawling his eyes out. Theresa placed her hand on his back and asked him, “Sir, do you want to give your life to Jesus? Do you want to have a relationship with him?” He said yes, and Theresa led him in a simple prayer to receive Jesus into his heart.
I wasn’t even aware that this man was an unbeliever before that moment, but I’m sure glad that Theresa listened to the Holy Spirit and obeyed His prompting to invite this man into a deeper relationship with Papa God. To know that we helped bring a son back into eternal union with his Father in heaven made everything cooler on so many levels—and all this with a simple painting and song.
We later found out that this man also worked on a boat. So the anchor had so much more meaning to him as well. “Yay” for words of knowledge!
Excellence vs. Perfectionism
On Saturday evening, our team had an opportunity to meet with a group of people from their Media Department and other people involved in creative arts at Bread of Life. Theresa shared a few testimonies about the power and importance of creative arts in the Church and marketplace, and we had a Q&A time to answer any questions they had.
One of the questions (the very first question, in fact) was, “How do you strive for excellence without falling into perfectionism?” This is a huge thing for Chinese people, and I know that, personally, I and many other Christians have struggled long and hard with the spirit of perfectionism—some people have yet to realize that it’s a bad thing. So, I decided to answer that question. I said something like the following:
For me, the difference between excellence and perfectionism is this: The root of perfectionism is fear. “I’m afraid that I will fail. I’m afraid what others will think of me. I’m afraid to fall short of the ‘standard’ that others and I use to measure me.”
But the truth is, when we operate out of perfectionism, we will never operate in excellence, because the root of excellence is identity. “I know that I am creative and I know that I am capable, because I am a child of God.” Perfectionism will always fall short of excellence, because you limit yourself based on what others expect of you. Excellence, on the other hand, has no limit, because it’s all about your identity as a creative powerhouse, i.e. made in the image of God the Creator of the Universe.
Therefore, my encouragement to all of you, creative people and artists, is this: Know who you are as a child of God. That’s the most important thing for creative people to grasp and understand. Don’t create out of fear, but create out of identity. When you do, it becomes so easy; it’s just the most natural thing, because it flows from your very core.
Many other things happened on this ministry trip that I won’t share in this post, many like the ones I shared. God touched many people with His love through the creative arts, prophetic paintings and spontaneous songs. I saw God operate outside of the box of people’s usual understanding and experience of Him. He loves to use new and creative ways to reveal Himself to people, both those inside and outside of the Church. He is not limited in any way when it comes to speaking to and loving on His children.
And, if these ten days have taught me anything, it’s that He loves to use us to be His messengers of love and good news to the world. How we choose to carry and release this message is, by no means, limited to one or two ways. We can use art and music, dance and media to release His power and presence in a tangible way to the world around us. And the fact is, they are craving it. The world is waiting for the children of God to release His beauty and goodness, power and presence, in a new way—a relevant way. It is time for a Kingdom Renaissance!