Nearly 350 people distracted from their shopping expedition and attracted into an exhibition called ‘Pictures of Love’!
The reason for this phenomena? – A normally empty shop that for one week was transformed into an oasis; a haven; a tranquil corner of grace, peace and love. The format was simple – written words, photographs, art and craft activities all focussed on the theme of love: the opportunity for shoppers to drop in, browse, chat, enjoy a cuppa (free), to paint and display their very own ‘picture of love’ or simply to take time out.
What a remarkable week it was. Sitting near a window, doodling with some woodwork, it was possible for me, out the corner of my eye, to see people in the mall as they stopped, looked at the posters, peered through the windows, paused and considered, then took the plunge and came in.
It was remarkable how the exhibition triggered the desire for so many people to enter into conversation about a particular craft activity, and then ask questions about faith. What a privilege it is to be allowed into their lives, to share in their story and in some instances, to listen as they acknowledge that their lives are diminished by lack of personal faith.
In these changing times, when churches seem preoccupied with statistics about dwindling congregations, it came as a stark reminder that people who do not attend church can still be hungry for a personal experience of God’s unconditional love. My/our challenge is to find new ways to stand alongside and engage with them, wherever they are on their journey of life to enthuse and encourage each other in the good news of God’s love.