'My heart is to encourage Christians in their daily walk with God'
For many years Jean Mintoft has had a vision to use her paintings, drawings and other artwork to bring spiritual encouragement. She introduces The Pilgrim Way, her new book featuring short devotions alongside her art
“We live in a different world!"
How often do we hear people from an older age group make such a statement? I‘ve often said it myself!
I am one of those people who was brought up in an age when creativity was not valued and careers in art or any other creative media were virtually non-existent. Hence, when I came to know Jesus Christ in my early 20s, I had no idea that my artistic ability, my appreciation of colour and my passion for art in general, was of any “use” in my spiritual life.
In fact, as a young believer who truly wanted to serve and honour God, I deliberately surrendered my desire to be an artist to God and for very many years only dabbled in painting and drawing as a hobby.
But God had other ideas! After a career in teaching (never art) and service in various churches, which encompassed counselling, prayer ministry, pastoral care and leadership roles, God took me to a church on the west coast of Wales, where God spoke clearly to me: “Be what you are”.
I knew this meant that I was to start to take my art seriously. I obeyed, albeit kicking and screaming, because the lie was still reverberating in my mind that God was not interested in art and could not use it.
Once I had embraced the calling to be an artist, I aimed to give glory to God in all that I painted. My work was mainly landscapes, which reflect the beauty of creation around us. I have personally always felt close to God and uplifted by dramatic sunsets, coastal scenes and contrasts of light and dark. But it is colour which especially inspires me and reveals God’s glory to me.
Occasionally the Holy Spirit inspires me to paint something overtly spiritual, but more often than not, my subjects are “ordinary” scenes; nevertheless, people often tell of a peace or joy which they find reflected in my paintings.
For many years I have had a vision to use my paintings, drawings and other artwork to bring spiritual encouragement to believers but never knew how to start.
It was not until after lockdown that, while casually chatting to a Christian friend about life being a journey with myriads of different experiences, the concept clarified itself in my mind: each painting or drawing would be a springboard for a devotional comment. The artwork would in itself point to lessons from life.
It was as if fragmented pieces which had been jumbled and confused in my mind suddenly came together like the pieces of a jigsaw, and The Pilgrim Way was conceived.
The book contains 44 short devotions, each standing alone and can be used as a personal devotional, reading one section each day. My heart is to encourage Christians in their daily walk with God. This has always been my aim in whatever area I have served in churches.
But I am aware that for many people, the busyness of life precludes spending a lot of time in devotions and for this reason the reflections which I have expressed in the book are brief, anchored in the Bible, and in language which is accessible to anyone. I have also attempted in most of the devotions to end with suggestions of how to follow up the theme in a time of quiet with God.
Many of the themes covered in The Pilgrim Way reflect periods of challenge, times when we wonder what God is doing. This “different world” in which we now live is so fraught with worries and concerns of a personal, community, national and global nature that Christians as much as everyone else are affected adversely, and my prayer is that these pictures and devotions will encourage and uplift those whose mental health and spiritual well-being is being challenged.
I trust too, that the over-arching truth that God is in control and he knows what he is doing, despite our human inability to understand his ways, will permeate the hearts, minds and spirits of all who look at the artwork and read the reflections.
We all need God’s peace, encouragement and reassurance; my prayer is that the Holy Spirit will minister to everyone in some way through The Pilgrim Way.
Jean Mintoft is a member of Hooe Baptist Church, Plymouth. She has been a member of Baptist churches in various areas of the UK for more than 45 years, often serving as a deacon or elder
One early foray into the artistic area was the setting up in the late 1970s of a banner-making group in a church in the Midlands. This was very unusual at the time, and the group, which she started and led for around 15 years, was asked to make a contribution to the book An Army with Banners, edited by Priscilla Nunnerley and published in December 1982.
This was the very first Christian publication on the subject.
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