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Missions Conference

Creative Expressions around the World


Missions Conference helps attendees worship God through the arts

by Anais Deac

A Moody student carries the Brazilian flag during the flag procession that opened Missions Conference 2024

A Moody student carries the Brazilian flag during the flag procession that opened Missions Conference 2024. Flags represented 200 international students from 50 countries.

At the start of Missions Conference 2024 February 6–9, Moody Bible Institute’s student body erupted in cheers as internationally dressed students carried brilliantly colored flags from all over the world down an aisle in Torrey-Gray Auditorium, then to the choir loft, waving them in unison. From Australia to the Middle East, the flags represented 200 international students from 50 countries and six continents coming together under the banner of Jesus Christ.

The flag procession was a fitting start to this year’s conference theme, “Creative Expressions: Centered in Christ” (based on 1 Chronicles 16:23–25a).

Max, a senior majoring in Biblical Studies, was pleased to see so much diversity in this year’s conference. “I think that diversity should be seen under the heading of the unity of Christ,” he said.

The speakers and workshops focused on “cultivating or figuring out creative ways that the Lord has wired you and how you can use that towards missions,” Max said, “harboring your creative design but using that for the glory of God.”

Kelli Worrall, field chair of Music and Media Arts, reminded the conference audience about the type of God we worship.

“God crafted every glorious detail, from the majestic mountains that proudly proclaim His praise to the intricately designed microbes that can’t even be seen with the naked eye,” she said. “Through His creation, He continues to constantly communicate His character, His beauty, His sovereign power, His attention to detail and order, His love. . . . Everyone was created in the image of a creative and communicative God, and through your creativity and communication, you image Him.”


Being the creative communicators God created us to be

Opening night speaker Robin Harris, president of Global Ethnodoxology Network (GEN), introduced a video explaining ethnodoxology, (literally the peoples’ praise), the interdisciplinary study of how Christians in every culture engage with God and the world through their own artistic expressions. She then used her life story to encourage ethnodoxology.

GEN prioritizes using ethnodoxology to teach others about the gospel, allowing room for creative worship. Their seven core values clearly express why it’s important to embrace ethnodoxology. Harris shared the example of a Northern Siberian Tuvan tribe that couldn’t grasp or relate to westernized forms of worship. Harris used the bridge-building approach in showing Christlike love. She explained that this requires believers to be with or live with the people in the community, to learn from them, to talk about arts and goals, and work towards working with others and their arts to be able to worship our creative God.

Through that approach, Harris was finally able to build a relationship with the Tuvan tribe that allowed them to create music that praised God using their unique instruments and talents. Harris shared a brief clip of Tuvan worship in a beautifully arranged song called “Lord Jesus in Heaven.”

Additional conference speakers included:

  • Geinene Carson, who works with Operation Mobilization (OM) as a consultant and artist mentor for Inspiro Arts Alliance
  • Héber Negrão, anthropology and ethnoarts coordinator of the Evangelical Missionary Linguistic Association (Wycliffe in Brazil)
  • Jaewoo Kim, who leads ministry development and is director of networking for Proskuneo Ministries in Clarkston, and his wife, Joy Kim, who joined him as an ethnodoxologist and the arts and worldview director
  • James R. Krabill, who continues to teach around the world since he retired from full-time employment after 42 years with Mennonite Mission Network
  • Mariyam Yohannis, a Scripture engagement specialist, translation advisor, and instructor serving in Ethiopia with Wycliffe Bible Translators
  • Mat Carson, currently directing Inspiro Arts Alliance, a ministry of OM
  • Sheila Fortson, a Moody alumna and the founder and executive director of FAME Center (Fortson Arts and Music Education)

A range of student arts groups performed during Missions Conference whose 2024 theme was Creative Expressions Centered in Christ

A range of student arts groups performed during Missions Conference, whose 2024 theme was "Creative Expressions Centered in Christ".

Workshops on missions

Students chose from more than 80 workshops with mission organizations to learn about various topics and serving opportunities.

Aravelle, a sophomore in Communications and an artist, felt encouraged by the focus on ethnodoxology. “Seeing there is a place for art in ministry kind of surprised me,” she said. In one of the workshops, Aravelle learned that “God did not give you your gifts to frustrate you. There is a reason why you’ve been given your artistic abilities, and you may not know what that is yet, but God wants you to use them.”

‘It’s one of my favorite things that Moody does’

Caleb, a junior majoring in Applied Linguistics, said he looks forward to Missions Conference every year and was able to find an internship through one of the many missions organizations that had booths set up.

“I love Missions Conference; it’s one of my favorite things that Moody does. We should do it more often, honestly,” said Caleb, who one day would like to serve overseas. “When all the missionaries come in, we all learn a lot, even those who don’t necessarily want to do missions. It’s good to know what’s out there and something we should all be aware of.”

Rachael, a sophomore in the Music program, said the main thing that stood out to her was “that you can use art and missions and music and all those different types of art and creativity.” She pointed out that it’s not always about going straight to people and sharing the gospel. “It’s building relationships. I’ve learned a lot about respecting other cultures,” adds Rachael, who values “being able to listen to people and learn about their culture so that you can be more respectful to it while still having fun with them and learning their language.”

Ian, a senior in Pastoral Studies, said that in one session, students acted out the story of Blind Bartimaeus in Mark 10. Ian found that by “using Scripture as a script,” ethnodoxology was implemented into this reenactment. Seeing how the crowd treated Bartimaeus versus how Jesus treated him caused Ian to want to respond like Jesus whenever he interacts with anyone—to have “compassion on them and act in response to their needs.”

Ian, who desires to be a pastor after graduating, wants to love as Christ did and show no partiality no matter who he encounters.


Anais Deac is the editorial intern for the Creative Team in Marketing Communications. She is scheduled to earn her master’s degree in Ministry Leadership from Moody Theological Seminary in May 2024.


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