Art is the means; the gospel is the end

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Don Dolton gathers with his 10 art students.

GoodSeed has partnered with many talented artists over the years to produce beautiful illustrations for our books. One of the earliest partnerships was with a man named Don Dolton, an artist from Eastern Canada.

Around the time when he was planning his retirement, Don heard a line that never left him: “Everything we do ought to be a means, and the end ought to be the Gospel.”

With those words ringing in his ears, Don sought the advice of his pastor who mentioned a Christian school in Mexico that could use an art teacher. In a short time, Don found himself in Puerto Escondido, Mexico .

As Don settled in, a fellow teacher suggested Don teach art lessons at her home on the weekends. The teacher would invite the neighbourhood children and Don would teach them how to draw.

The idea gained purchase in Don’s mind, so he set about to find art supply sets for each one, as the children would have nothing of their own. Don’s friend invited children from the neighbourhood to join “El Clase de Arte.” The students proudly received the art kits, becoming very conscientious in caring for their supplies.

Don considered the approach he should use to develop artistic skills amongst the children while also sharing the gospel. He decided that if he taught using the outline from The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus, he could have the kids draw pictures that illustrated the stories.

Don explains:

“It seemed obvious to use the chronological teaching approach to presenting the gospel because it would systematically lead these dear children towards a fuller understanding of who God is, why He came to us and what He’s done for us.

“They chart their artistic progress through the drawings they make from the sequential lessons from creation to the resurrection of Christ. They need to pay attention to the lesson so that they can illustrate it.

“While they draw and paint, I ask each one to explain their artwork to me. This helps me understand their thinking. These children are illustrating the gospel themselves and when they show anyone else their artwork, they will be presenting the gospel again as they explain what they’ve drawn. Artistically it encourages creative thinking, as well as maps the progress of their artwork, which will encourage them to continue to develop the skills they’ve acquired along the way.”

Don’s excitement for this outreach is palpable. With ten students who faithfully attend, he has found a way to communicate his two passions in life. If “everything we do ought to be a means, and the end ought to be the Gospel,” Don has found art to be the perfect means for him to share the end–the gospel.


It has given me the ability to defend my faith

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bible_college1“It helped me see all of the connections of the Bible more clearly so that I can be confident and equipped to share my faith with others.”

This was one of the comments received from students at a Bible institute in Ontario this past fall. GoodSeed staff members John Cross and Troy Johnstone were there to teach through By This Name as part of the students’ year of Bible studies. Over five days they taught a total of 24 hours, giving the young people the big-picture view of the Old and New Testaments, showing how God created templates in the Old that Jesus fulfilled in the New. We are grateful to this school for the opportunity to share with these young people who have given a year of their lives for Bible instruction.

One student, just 10 months earlier, had been begging for cash on the side of the street to support his drug habit. After checking into rehab he was given a copy of The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus, which was instrumental in him coming to understand the gospel. Now he is taking this year to study God’s Word as he prepares for a totally different life!

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It was the Bible stories that the kids kept talking about

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kindergarten-504672_1280“Welcome to Bible time! I’m so glad you are here! Every day we will hear a story from God’s Word, the Bible.” Audrey* held up her Bible for the children to see, and then continued: “And the stories will help you to understand what the Bible is all about. Make sure you come back every day to get the big picture. It is like climbing the mountain. When you get to the top, you will see the big picture!”

The small classroom was filled wall to wall with children and their leaders. They sat cross-legged on the floor and looked up expectantly at Audrey. She stood beside the table full of visual aids—everything from stuffed animals to flannelgraphs to cut-outs of the cross and tomb. It was day one of Vacation Bible school. The children Audrey was teaching were from varied backgrounds—some churched, but many from broken homes and foster care. She had five days, one short session a day, to teach them the Bible’s story and help them understand the gospel.

Audrey had put a lot of prayer, thought and preparation into these Bible times. The purchased VBS curriculum had included material for a Bible time each day, but somehow it didn’t seem to be what was needed. Isolated Bible stories are just not suitable for children who know nothing about who Jesus is and what he did. They only had one week with these children and she couldn’t see how to adapt the assigned stories in a way that would clearly explain the gospel. The material also seemed watered down, missing key aspects of the gospel. Audrey decided to go back to square one and, with the blessing of the church leadership, made her own curriculum for the week.

So here she was, before the first group of expectant children, ages 6 through 12. All she had was her Bible, a worn copy of The Story that Matters, the visual aids and her notes.

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Even children can do this

traveling-72151_1280We were blessed recently by the following testimony. Here are parents who have been successful in passing on to their children a passion for sharing the gospel.

The kids love trains. So we decided to take them on a train ride downtown. We encouraged seven-year-old Daniel* to take some GoodSeed books along to give to people on the train. One of the ladies he asked took the book but we could tell right away she was uncomfortable with it. It wasn’t long before she tossed the book a few seats down from her. We prayed together with the kids that someone would come take the book who needed it. A few stops later, another lady sat down, picked up the book and started intently reading it. She was about 10 pages into it before we got off at our next stop! Daniel is learning how easy it is to give the gospel to others.

A few weeks later, we took another train ride for Aaron’s birthday and took more books along to give away to people. Daniel said, “We need more books! Look at all these people that might not know Jesus!” Five-year-old Aaron even built up the courage to give a book to a young mother. We left a copy of The Story that Matters on a table in the public gardens and prayed someone would pick this book up. Sure enough, just 10 seconds later, we were blessed to see a man sit down at the table and begin reading it. We are praying that the recipients of these books would come to learn the Good News and place their trust in Jesus.

We are excited to see how God is using our children to reach others for Him, even at such a young age. Their love and concern for others that don’t know Jesus is so neat to see and a challenge to us as adults to not be afraid to give away the gospel.

Giving away a book is simple. So simple that even children can do it. Daniel and Aaron used The Story that Matters like a jumbo gospel tract. At 64 pages, it is succinct but with enough details to provide someone with a good explanation of the gospel message. And at $1 a copy when bought in bulk, the book is affordable to give away. Why not follow Daniel and Aaron’s example and prayerfully take some books with you next time you’re on the train or bus or in a public venue?

(* All names changed as per GoodSeed policy.)

The launch of The Lamb in Faroese

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20160513faroes1The Faroe Islands. A network of 18 islands, connected by tunnels and ferries and bridges, situated halfway between Iceland and Norway. As in centuries past, fishing remains the economic ballast, and the sheep dotting the hillsides seem to agree with the Danish name for the country: “islands of sheep.” It has a landscape marked by rocky coastlines and rugged terrain, with the misty shores, hidden harbours and colourful villages making it a photographer’s paradise. Around 50,000 people call this unique and beautiful country home.

This past May, GoodSeed staff member Allan Ellingsgaard, along with John and Janice Cross, spent three weeks in the Faroe Islands. This was a trip back home for Allan, since he was raised in the Faroe Islands. For John and Janice, this was their first time in the country. Despite the innate tourist appeal of the country, the scenery and culture was not what primarily drew them to the Faroes. All three were there for the dedication of the Faroese edition of The Lamb, which was hot off the press.

It was 16 years ago that Allan first dreamed of having a book like The Lamb in Faroese. At the time, he was a leader at a youth camp in the Faroes, and he wished there was a resource that would systematically and chronologically present the gospel to children. It’s not as though the Faroese youth didn’t know the Bible’s stories. The majority of people in the Faroe Islands are very familiar with the basic tenets of the Bible—95% of the population profess to be Christians. But what Allan longed to see was a resource that put all the pieces of the Bible’s message together in a very simple way that would have a broad use, regardless of the background of the individual.

In 2008, this dream started to become a reality when a missionary from the Faroe Islands contacted Allan about the possibility of translating The Stranger into Faroese. It was deemed wise to start with a smaller project, so The Lamb was suggested as an alternative. The missionary was keen on the idea and in 2011, he began the process of translating The Lamb.

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What were her true intentions?

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book study

Rachelle* seems to always be guiding someone through the gospel message using Par ce nom, the French edition of By This Name. Though she never sets out searching for an individual to teach, the Lord regularly brings people into her life who desire to understand the Bible’s message. Amièle, a young teenager, was one such seeker.

Amièle had a rough start in life. Her home life was defined by upheaval and uncertainty, finally culminating with a move to live with her grandparents. When a friend invited her to attend church, she agreed and began joining the teen class each week. Though she attended for a year and a half, she still understood very little about the Bible. As this became more apparent, her Sunday school teacher asked Amièle if she would like to study a book called Par ce nom. The teachers would be Rachelle and the Sunday school teacher and the participants would be Amièle, the teacher’s daughter and a young man who was not a believer.

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Don’t stop! We want to hear more!

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bonfireSummer Bible camp. How Megan* loved the week-long escape into the quiet of nature. The rustic cabins nestled among the evergreens, the liveliness of the campers, the crackling bonfires in the evening… it was all one big highlight. But there was something that brought even more joy to Megan, and that was watching God at work in the hearts of the campers.

When Megan was asked to be a main speaker at a girls’ Bible camp, she was more than willing to oblige. She also knew what she would talk about. Ever since she had attended a TERM Seminar, she had been sharing the gospel using a Creation-to-Christ approach. She decided to use the five days of camp to do this once again.

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They grabbed on to each truth

Chlldren reading The LambStephen and Geraldine* wanted to share their testimony. They wrote us the following email as an encouragement to other families who are going through, or have gone through similar circumstances:

Our family has been so richly blessed by The Lamb. We have been through the book several times with our children and have been excited to see how well they have grasped the gospel at a very early age. My wife and I have also been challenged to reconsider how well we grasped the gospel ourselves and how we can better teach it to others.

However, last year the rubber really met the road when we were faced with the tragic loss of our unborn child 19 weeks into the pregnancy. At that time our children were five, three, two and one years old.

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A providential mistake

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Little girl reading The LambWe have great staff who look after all the orders coming in (via phone calls, online store and walk-ins) and they ensure each order is shipped out in a timely manner. However, occasionally a mistake is made and then we do our utmost to make sure we correct it to the best of our ability.

Last fall, one such mistake became a blessing in disguise—both for our customer as well as for us as a staff.

Lisa,* a French language teacher in a Christian school, had been introduced to GoodSeed resources by an enthusiastic friend. When she was given The Lamb to read to her four-year-old daughter, she did so several times, appreciating the simple and clear message the book contained. They especially connected with the explanation of the atoning lamb sacrifice and how it pictures Christ’s sacrifice for us. Lisa said, “It is written so clearly!”

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He was contemplating suicide that very morning

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Lonely treeSome years ago, 19-year-old Reuben* attended a Bible study. He was not a believer but he wanted to learn the message of the Bible. He was given a book, The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus and, over a number of weeks, was taught the gospel message. At the end of the study, he put his trust in Christ for salvation.

After telling his family that he was now a believer, his younger brother Conner became very spiteful and gave Reuben a nasty time. Though this caused Reuben to struggle with his faith, he never gave up what he believed. Meantime, Conner simply made things worse. He terrorized his brother, both verbally and physically. What Reuben didn’t know at the time was that Conner was struggling to find any meaning in his life.

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