It was already crazy enough when God said to prayer walk the land of Japan. I mean, how huge and outrageously expensive that would be!! But then He added on that He wanted it to be a prophetic arts trip too! Like, how many Christians even know what ‘prophetic arts’ means?! Who would come with me on this wild venture?? But within a week, He led me to three people who said they would pray about joining the team – and all of them are prophetic artists! So I had to say ‘yes’ to Him, and started preparing for the trip with much fear and trepidation… Firstly, Job wouldn’t be able to come on the trip so I’d have to lead the team on my own. Secondly, I sensed that there would be some fierce warfare involved and I wasn’t sure if I or the rest of the team would be ready for it. However, on both counts, God showed up and did all the hard work for us so we breezed our way through with great joy and celebration!
So how prophetic can the arts be?
God spoke to us so clearly through the arts. For instance, on our second day in Japan we had visited the Peace Memorial Park in Okinawa. There’s an art gallery with a series of paintings by a particular artist on the theme of ‘War and Peace’. I noticed that nearly every one of his paintings had similar wavy lines that looked like the wind.
I was especially struck by this piece which depicts the strength of the people in the face of hardship, as represented by the flowers that stand strong in the midst of the billowy winds. We had heard that we just missed a typhoon as we had arrived the day after it hit Okinawa. But little did we know that for the rest of the trip, God would protect us from two more typhoons – one changed direction midway and the other struck Tokyo the day before we landed there! So this painting was God’s way of reassuring us that He would keep us safe even when typhoons are raging around us.
Then on another day, God prompted us to do team drawing so we all prayed and drew one picture each. Turned out that all the pictures formed a map for the rest of our trip as we kept seeing real-life representations of the things we had drawn thereafter!
We got to visit a pottery in Okinawa and through learning about the process of how clay is turned into ceramics, God also showed us many lessons about our Christian walk. The master potter was from the church we had just visited and as he was sharing about how he realised his true identity was to be found in Christ and not in culture or even the arts, I suddenly saw the link between his testimony and the impromptu dance that Aimee had presented in the church earlier on. The pastor (the potter’s wife) had requested to see Aimee dance so she chose the song ‘Who Am I‘ on the spot and improvised to it. Amazingly, God had already started speaking to us about our identity in Him through the dance and continued the same message during the potter’s sharing.
God also spoke to others through us and the arts. At the church that was hosting us in Kyoto, we had presented the pastor with a postcard print of one of our team members, Chloe’s painting, ‘The Covenant‘. The rainbow background reminded him of an actual rainbow that he had seen in the morning. It held special meaning to him as the church had just celebrated their 37th anniversary the day before. But he lamented that nobody else had seen the rainbow. We proceeded to get the four church members who were present to pick out one prophetic art card each from a bag and to our surprise, every single one of them received a picture with a rainbow! The probability of that happening was really very small as we had multiple copies of nearly 20 different pictures and only 3 of the pictures had rainbows. What’s more, the next day when we met another church member and got him to pick a card, he got a rainbow picture too! So it was clear that God wanted to show the rainbow to the church members too, not just the pastor, in order to emphasise that He will keep His promises to the church.
On another occasion, Chloe was showing some missionaries-in-training the painting that God had inspired her to paint for and bring on our trip (you can also read about God’s provision for her to come on the trip in her post). Through her explanation of how God wants to restore every nation, including Japan, He actually brought about reconciliation between a Korean believer and a Japanese believer who were listening to her!
The arts also helped to usher in great power to tear down strongholds. We were on our way to a place famous for its shrines and we were expecting a fierce spiritual battle there. However, a couple of days before the trip, God reminded us of how Jehoshaphat had won the battle through praise and worship (2 Chronicles 20:1-30). So throughout the 2.5-hour drive there, we kept singing song after song from our playlist and even added more songs to the list as they came to mind. When we finally arrived, we all sensed that God had already won the battle. He led us to a riverside instead of entering the shrine area, and released us to continue praising Him and making a joyful noise unto Him.
Don’t forget God’s masterpieces!
Of course, God also spoke to us wonderfully through His artworks painted in the skies and revealed through nature. Once when we had just finished praying, a butterfly landed on Jesse’s thigh and rested there. Then on the day we did the team drawing, just as we had finished and were packing up, a butterfly hovered over Aimee’s head for a while. To us, both incidents were signs of His presence with us.
On our first morning at Kyoto, I was woken up at 5.20am by a pink glow in the room. I looked out the window and for the next half an hour, witnessed the most amazing live painting with the clouds as His canvas. That was God’s way of reminding me that I was indeed in the land of the rising sun, but also a confirmation of the word we had received earlier that the Son of Righteousness will rise over the land.
What about leading the team?
Well, my fears were unfounded, of course! I learnt to rely fully on God’s prompting as He was the leader of our team, not me. Each time He prompted me or anyone in the team, there would be confirmation from the rest, and then we would act accordingly. Things would work out perfectly and we would even make pleasant discoveries along the way (one of them being the fantastically clear view of Mt Fuji even though it had been a cloudy day). However, the only time where the team disagreed and did not follow God’s prompting led to a minor understanding with a couple of local people. But thankfully, when we admitted our mistake and apologised, things were quickly resolved.
To be honest, I hadn’t been confident at all that the overwhelming itinerary (4 cities in 10 days, 6 flights and countless hours of driving) would be achievable, or that the crazy things (singing, dancing, playing instruments, flagging, bubbling, drawing, painting, giving out art cards) He had shown us to do during our trip would have any impact. But thankfully, my team members were willing to obey God’s instructions and we got to experience incredibly divine things together!
The final confirmation that we had done everything right came when we saw this at the boarding gate of Sapporo airport as we were about to fly back to Singapore.
It’s the same Hachiko dog that I had drawn (see earlier picture). But instead of waiting to hear the voice of his dead master, my picture shows the dog listening intently to his master’s voice singing over him (with slight reference to the HMV dog who also happens to be listening to his dead master’s recorded voice over the gramophone). When we incline our ears to listen to our Master, who is most definitely alive, we will find that:
The LORD your God is among you; He is mighty to save. He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you with His love; He will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17