by Patricia E. Clawson
The hand of the Lord has been evident in Wael Farouk’s life from his childhood in Cairo to today as the first pianist ever to perform all ninety-eight of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s solo piano compositions within six months. That’s similar to an actor performing all of Shakespeare’s plays in one season, he says. What makes this achievement even more remarkable is that he was once told he could never play the Russian composer’s music because his hands could not be straightened or even made into a fist. Yet the thirty-three-year-old has performed in New York City’s Carnegie Hall. He also accompanies worship at his home church, Grace OPC in Hanover Park, Illinois.
Wael’s story begins as a two-and-a-half-year-old who couldn’t hold things in his hands in a normal way because of his shortened ligaments. To help strengthen Wael’s hands, a doctor urged his father to help him exercise his fingers. His father’s gift of a toy piano on his third birthday changed his life. Wael’s love of music was kindled as he continually played the piano. Read more
by Rebecca Sodergren
Music became both Pamela York’s vocation and her introduction to Christ.
She played in her high school band with the sons of a Christian Reformed Church pastor, and she began playing piano in their church even before taking membership vows at age 20. Now she accompanies worship at Providence OPC in Kingwood (Houston), Texas, where her husband, Adam, is the pastor. Read more
by Alan D. Strange
When the editor asked me if I wished to write on the value of listening to and attending the opera, or of listening to and attending the symphony orchestra, I felt as if he had asked a gourmand to write about food. I readily agreed and was delighted at the prospect!
I like music in a variety of genres, but, for me, there is nothing quite like opera or the orchestra. I should note that I exclude from this evaluation the music of the church, which holds a unique place in my heart and life, as I trust it does in the life of many of you. Read more
by Rebecca Sodergren
Discovering the Reformed faith gave Mike Mahon the freedom to pursue his calling as a landscape and portrait painter. He began studying fine arts at Texas Tech University in the late 1960s. But he quickly became disillusioned because “all anybody was interested in doing was making philosophical or political statements.” Also, most artists embraced abstract art and dismissed traditional painting and concepts of beauty.
Mahon, an agnostic at the time, felt he had no particular agenda: “I just wanted to do beautiful artwork.” Read more
by Paul Browne
“Oh, do you still make art?”
Kind people commonly ask that when they hear I am now a pastor, but have a degree in painting. The easy answer is, “Not much, these days.” The implication, that a pastor’s life is busy—who has time to break out the acrylics?—is true enough. The conclusion that my being a pastor is unrelated to art, however, is false. Read more