“My elementary school art teacher used to say to me that whenever I am painting, I have to writing a title what I am painting. Without it, the people cannot understand. I still do it to today (laughs). I just want to say that if you do not paint perfectly, you can still preach the gospel” – says the evangelists and instructor of the Sketchboard Course, Ulrich Hofius.
(Interview by Ulrich Hofius, Germany)
How can you describe evangelization through sketchboard?
Sketchboard is evangelizing service which is prefers visual aids, including painting, drama and pantomime. These activities become tools to spread the Gospel. It is the proclamation (preaching) of the Gospel to unbelievers in the open air. It can be termed as an underlining message of the Bible. Sketchboard is therefore a kind of extended arm of a particular congregation.
Sketchboard as we have experienced in Martin, can be termed as evangelization through painting. How does this service work outdoors in the open air?
Through sketchboard, the people are directly confronted with the Gospel. It is about building bridges; about creating new contacts. We do not want the Gospel “ to hit people on the head”, we wish to be closer to them. We have to always adapt, we have to get their attention so that then we can speak the Gospel story.
What do you think about the success of this method of evangelism?
For many people, sketchboard is their first contact with the Gospel. Sometimes people get just the first impetus to began to think about what they heard. Sketchboard is often the only one link in the chain a person follows before becoming a Christian. In my view, using sketchboard is a success.
Do you have your personal style of evangelism through painting?
Yes I do. When I start painting, I turn back to the audience. People who follow me will begin to be curious. They are so curious that they rise from their chairs. At this moment I turn to them and I give my question aimed precisely at those people who are standing. They are the ones who want to know and see more and I am here for them.
Do you remember a story where God used to sketchboard to touch someone?
Once I preached on the street in my hometown. A mother and her child walked pretty close to me. The child wanted to stand up and listen to a sermon. Mama, however, pulled the child away. The child stretched his hand and took the evangelistic leaflets we hand out to people. He gave it to his mom and in the evening they read it together. The mom was turning to God. A few days later, the father of this same child came to church. He also turned to Jesus. It is beautiful when this happens and God finds a place in the whole family.
What are the advantages of sketchboard? Does this method also have disadvantages?
Sketchboard is a combination of hearing words and seeing the creation of a painting. The combination of what we hear and see remains in memory for a longer time. This is very positive and necessary. The disadvantage of this method, or rather I will say “a danger”, is the fact that the actual experience a person has while listening can overshadow the message you want to say them.
What if I am interested in this? How can start to do sketchboard?
Let’s do it! In fact, it’s like driving a car—when you get a license, you can start driving. The same is with sketchboard. Let’s just do it.
Open Air Campaigners (OAC) missionary society, is where Ulrich serves as the outer arm of the church. It is one of the ways to help to local community communicate with church outside. Evangelistic seminars take place in over 20 countries around the world, including ones in Central and Eastern Europe, Asia, and North and South America. The organization’s independent offices serve more than 100 full-time working evangelists.