When was the last time you made something of your own?
We live in a world that loves to brag about its lack of creativity. We love to consume, be it film on Netflix, music on Spotify or a mouth-watering, soul-satisfying Chipotle burrito, but we put up every defense at the suggestion that maybe we could come up with something beautiful of our own. There are many reasons we believe we’re not creative or original. One might be the ways that society and education have lectured us into running after tangible disciplines so we can make money and live well, or maybe someone influential told us we wouldn’t amount to much. Whatever it is, we’ve bought it like Taylor Swift’s latest album, and it’s holding us back from doing awesome things. If I’m describing you, then stop being afraid and jump in! Make time to give something a try that you’ve brushed aside before. Thankfully, though, I’ve been totally generalizing thus far and overlooking lots of real people doing original stuff that continues to inspire me. I just wish there were more of them.
From their beginnings, Poetice International has been and continues to be dedicated to fostering creativity, whether that’s pushing for a fuller, better way of approaching missions or literally teaching someone how to play a trumpet. They even have a super cool guy (with an even better name) on staff as their creative director. This to say, they recognize a need for art and originality in the world, and seek to cultivate it everywhere possible. Part of that vision is the intern storytelling team. The Lord is doing incredible work here in various contexts, and these stories need to be told for the sake of countless people across the world who partner with or work for Poetice but never get to hold or experience firsthand the ways in which God is honoring their dedication. They’ve dubbed it a storytelling team, but there are really only two of us – a journalist and a photographer. I’ve been writing stories here and, without any further ado, Brooke Jeries has been responsible for documenting our experiences through photography. And she’s been killing it! Taking pictures is one way she draws income, and she’s certainly gifted in that, but she’s so multitalented that it’s tough to pin her as just a photographer. Brooke has an engineering degree from Hope College, and she can also paint, write and play several musical instruments. She’s got some pretty exciting dreams for the future that are coming into fruition as I write and as you read, but we’ll cover those later. First, we need to set the scene in order to grasp how amazing it is that Brook’s in such a state of flourishing.
Jeries grew up with a ton of hardships in most areas of her life, but she didn’t recognize an issue with that until later. Often times, we don’t see what makes us unique until we compare our world with lives of others. For the first part of her life, Brooke’s world consisted of a few family members that were unloving and unaccepting to the point of cruelty. Eventually, she found herself midway through college without the presence of family or friends she had been used to having around, which understandably led to extreme levels of depression and hopelessness. In her darkest hour, though, Brooke wandered into a worship night at Hope, where she met a small group of strangers who told her that they’d noticed her around campus and had been praying for her for months. They encouraged her in specific ways that undoubtedly convinced Brooke that the God she had been crying out to was real and powerful and full of love for her just as she was. A month later, attending a Christian conference in Kansas City with her new friends, Brooke encountered God in ways she hadn’t expected. He assured her that despite the pain she’d lived through, he would make good of her life and her hurt. She speaks of that time as when she went from having no family to being adopted as God’s child.
Since her adoption, Brooke’s life has been one of complete transformation. Feeling a clear call to missions, she stated researching different opportunities and developing her own plan for ministry. A few steps down the road of this process, a close friend told Brooke about what God was doing at Poetice, and she fell in love with it. But as these adventures usually work out, the tangible application of doing work with Poetice flew in the face of her preconceived notions of what this journey would look like. In an impressive move, she threw away her expectations and ran after the Lord’s call. This was a scary process of seemingly flying blind, but she’ll tell you that God carried her through every uncertain step. He even provided all of the finances to make this summer with Poetice possible, which was one aspect that had intimidated her from the start. Now that we’re here and almost a month into her experience, Brooke admits that she’s still very much out of her comfort zone. She’s unclear as to her deeper purpose in this place, but she knows that God’s still with her, and that urges her to trust him unceasingly.
As far as the future’s concerned, it’s looking like there is plenty in store when it comes to adventure and trust. The year following her college graduation was a rough transition, as most find it after getting everything out of their lives on campus. Despite missing her friends and close-knit lifestyle she’d been used to, Brooke found encouragement by plugging into her local church. As she processed her current situation with that community, she was encouraged, along with her closest friend group, to take part in a recently developed house-church project. A house-church sounds self-explanatory, but it’s worth mentioning that they’re based on the ancient Church model in Acts, as well as thriving churches in parts of the world where Christianity is persecuted. Brooke says they’re chaotic and distracting at first, but she’s learned to value Church as it was meant to be – not a place where people go but a body of which people are living, breathing parts. House-churches are distinctive in their prioritization of worship, sharing of personal testimony, contribution to the gathering by everyone present and the scriptural practicing of spiritual gifts. In order to maintain these attributes, a house will split into two smaller groups if attendance grows beyond a certain level. This idea is actually a really big deal in the Church – Brooke describes camera crews coming into their homes to shoot documentaries and people from all over the country contacting their community, looking for advice as they try their own house-church experiments.
Instead of settling for Sundays, Brooke and her friends are pushing their prospect a step further along this trail they’re blazing. This fall, she’ll be moving into a house with a few friends who will be challenging each other in spiritual matters, but also diving into creativity and being unafraid to try new forms of art. The unbelievable part of this venture is that this house will be equipped with studios for painting, music recording, photography and film. These resources will be available for the residents’ artistic exploration, but also to encourage those in the community to try things they hadn’t thought of before. Brooke sees the availability of all these resources as making way for the Holy Spirit to work through the creative process. Preparations are happening this summer, and it goes without saying that she’s elated to take her first steps into this new place and way of doing community. Lastly, Brooke will be starting an engineering job when she gets home. Her sights are set on designing rides and other attractions for Disney parks!
Brooke’s many endeavors characterize her passion for life and possibility. She creatively refines her gifts for the good of God and others. There may not be as many adventurous, creative people in the world as there could be, but may her story and Christ-centered drive inspire you to step out of the box today!
|ABOUT THE AUTHOR
William McCauley • 2015 International Immersion Intern