Tonia had a nagging voice in her head her whole life.
It would badger her saying, “What do you have to show for yourself?” Things of art—painting and writing—are misinterpreted as a frivolous activity.
But art also happens to be what Tonia was most passionate about. She is currently working on her third novel and teaching creative writing at William Jessup University in Rocklin, Calif.
“I see the suffering of Christian artists….
Artists live [and create] from their hearts. It’s a really dangerous, sacred place…”
Tonia believes that the church not only needs to be a place of safety for artists as they create but also that the church needs the beauty that artists make.
“We need this beauty because, where beauty is, that’s where God is.” she says.
“I don’t mean beauty for the sake of something lustful, but beauty for the sake of bringing us to the point of worship and a sense of awe that God could be so concerned with thrilling our hearts and bringing color and life and music into the human soul through all these means….”
“It’s almost like God saying, ‘Ok. I’m going to give you the birds. Look how they sing. I’m going to give you the flowers… Now go do this same thing.
Repeat this process. Turn it out. Show people.’”
Tonia and her husband Randy spent their 2012 honeymoon traveling to Ireland with Serge.
After a powerful prayer walk, marching through beautiful marshlands, and praying in the damp, Tonia and Randy arrived in Dublin, where they met Jim and Laura Pettit and learned about their work in the local creative community.
“What [Jim and Laura] were trying to do in Dublin really struck a chord of resonance,” says Tonia. “It is something that I’ve had a dream of doing… having a place for writers and artists to come to, to be supported and encouraged in their craft and in their callings.”
“Several years ago I had an idea called Tikkun Olan, which is a Hebrew phrase meaning “restoring a broken world.”
“[It] would be a place where writers and artists could come and be supportive of each other, learn things, be able to do their work, and be able to affirm one another.”
“It was very encouraging,” she adds.
Jim and Laura have given up a lot to do what they’re doing and be where they are. But they’re not wavering. They’re going forward one step at a time, one day at a time.
I so admire that their ministry is about one on one.
Hearing this person and hearing that person. They’re not jumping on a bandwagon. They’re not yelling on a street corner. They’re not trying to jam anything down anyone’s throat.
They’re having conversations and listening… You see the Spirit of God at work in their quiet, deliberate obedience.”
Tikkun Olan – repairing a broken world – is the very thing that they are doing in Dublin.
It made me think – this is an opportunity for me to come alongside and be encouraging.
And it refueled my dream to do that here or wherever God leads me.”