Sergio Castro performed "spoken word" for a crowd estimated to be 170 people. "Worship is dangerous. Worship of God is forbidden in many parts of the world. Music reaches into the subconscious. Music is a natural channel to express one's true feelings toward God. Music makes us part of creation. In the book of Job, it says the stars sang. Perhaps creation did not begin with a big bang after all; perhaps it began with worship," said Castro, keeping rhythm with a beat from DJ Tony Vasquez. As the duo, known as The Root of Jesse, performed, an artist stationed on the stage's right side painted a canvas. At the stage's left, a PowerPoint screen rotated images of children and communities from around the world. Performances by Dance Floor Prophets and Soul Water followed. At this event held in the basement of Horizon Park Chapel in Banker's Hill, several artists' work was displayed. The art expressed Christian themes -- the Holy Spirit represented by fire and a surreal collage about Judas's betrayal of Jesus. Charlene Rice, a painter from Rancho Cucamonga, donated her work to the event. "We want to raise money in a creative way through the use of art and music. This is not your grandmother's Catholic prayer group," said Rice loudly over the music. "The art here isn't the Passover art people hang over their dining room table. This art speaks to this generation." With paint and seeds, Rice had fashioned a cross-shaped device. "The Christian art community is too saturated with angels, flowers, and trees. People's souls are deep wells and I want to speak to them through my abstract expressions."
Jamey Franich attended the event. "This event is about Christians using their gifts and artwork to glorify God. When you look in the Bible, where God had the Israelites build a temple, God indwelled an artist named Bezalel with the Holy Spirit. The same thing is going on here. Christian arts have gotten boring and mediocre. Christians don't seem to consider the arts important. Maybe it is because [of] the hell, fire, and brimstone Baptist attitude that said that Christians shouln't dance or listen to music. Some denominations blanket the arts as sin without any support of this in the Word of God."
The event was the brainchild of Abraham Vizcarra, a local artist and owner of Soul Creative design firm. "What began as a design firm has become more of a springboard to serve ministries," said Vizcarra. "We wanted to put on a concert and bring in a variety of Christian artists to donate their work. The proceeds fund national missionaries in Asia. The event has a threefold purpose. First, we want to create awareness for the native missionary movement. Second, we want to call the church into action to wake up from their lukewarmness and go out and share the gospel. Last, we want to evangelize the lost who attend."
Vizcarra said Soul Creative is different than other Christian events. "I've seen too many seeker-sensitive churches who try to reach non-Christians with nothing more than a party where there is no true gospel presentation." Vizcarra spoke passionately about the need for the church to recover a true gospel message and for the support of native missionaries. "There is a lack of missionaries who are laboring to evangelize the world. The American church, which has the ability and resources, isn't willing to give up our rights and support local missionaries in third world countries. The churches in America only want to send American missionaries because of our arrogance. We are not willing to break free of traditional missionary work."
Vizcarra told me a story he read about missionaries who were based in India for several decades that had their own personal cook and driver. "The missionaries lived far away in a nice home from the people they were ministering to. Their ministry work was not fruitful.... It wasn't gospel work but social work."
Gary Bishop, a volunteer representative for Gospel for Asia, spoke during an intermission between musical acts. "The Gospel for Asia organization is targeting between the 10- and 40-degree latitude lines from western Africa to Asia. This is where 60 percent of the world's population lives, where 85 percent of the world's impoverished people are, and where 98 percent of the people groups are who have not heard about Jesus Christ. Today, only 2 percent of the world's missionary force targets this area. Eighty-thousand people die each day in this area without hearing the gospel," said Bishop. He said it takes 30 to 40 thousand dollars to train and send an American missionary to reach these people. "There are thousands of native missionaries who are ready to go into these hostile areas, and they only require 90 to 150 dollars a month for support." Vizcarra said the goal of the evening was to raise money to support ten native missionaries for one year.
I asked Vizcarra what happens to a person after they die. "If a person dies in their sins without Christ, they will be given justice. God will be just to send them to hell," replied Vizcarra. "That is why we are here to warn people."
Founded locally: 2005
Senior pastor: Abraham Vizcarra
Congregation size: 170
Staff size: 2
Sunday school enrollment: n/a
Annual budget: $1500
Weekly giving: n/a
Singles program: n/a
Sunday worship: n/a
Length of reviewed service: 4 hours