Two men talked quietly as they stood together among the crowd at the art show at the new Creative Center in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Noi Moradaet, a Luthier by trade, earns his living by designing and handcrafting traditional Thai instruments as well as different types of guitars. The other man, Sam, is a Thai pastor of the small local church just down the street from the Creative Center. Musician Jon Rubesh introduced the two men, and their paths may have never crossed were it not for unique gatherings like this, where God can orchestrate crossings.
The Creative Center was founded so that these types of encounters could occur in an open setting. Co-founders Kennedy Paizs and Jon Rubesh see it as a gathering place for the neighborhood and beyond where relationships can begin and grow in an organic way. The location, along a busy street of storefronts, was chosen not only for visibility and access but also because the Paizs and Rubesh families live here themselves. Classes for painting and other art forms, guitar, cooking, and English will be held on a regular basis in hopes of drawing in many people from all ages and backgrounds. The Paizs and Rubesh families will use the Creative Center for a small group worship and Bible study with the hopes of more discipleship opportunities developing in the future.
The art show was a great success, drawing in more than sixty people who admired the paintings by both Paizs and a local artist named Banyaa. Rubesh played classical guitar pieces both on his guitar and on Moradaet’s handmade creations. A former landlord and his friend were invited to do a guitar jazz set, and another friend played even more music throughout the evening as people admired the artwork and ate both Thai and western treats. Children, aged from the young Rubesh family kids to high school art students, were also in attendance. Grandparents were there as well, tapping their toes to the music, watching kids dance around. A few people lingered at the end of the evening, soaking in the closeness created by the evening’s festivities and continuing conversations well into the night.
“It’s an amazing thing to see everything come together; to see the visions God plants within you come to life. We have wanted this to happen for years. This evening is what it’s all about for us; having a place that allows us to have conversations with a Kingdom purpose, using the creative arts as the crossroads,” said Rubesh. “We have always known that the multi-generational relationships along with the creative arts were going to be a powerful evangelistic model for Thailand. Our hope and prayer is that this will continue to bear fruit in the years to come, however long that may be.”
-Written by Sharla Rubesh, TEAM missionary in Thailand
-Photography by Nancy Sturrock