Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved the arts—especially acting. I loved taking on the role of a character and getting lost in being someone else. I was fortunate enough to attend Earl Haig Secondary and be in the Claude Watson Performing Arts Program as a drama major. It was there I realized my deep love to pursue this art form as a career. In my grade 11 year, I decided to get an acting agent and started to audition professionally. Throughout the remainder of high school and my post-secondary years, I auditioned and performed professionally in various film and television roles. The plan was taking flight. So I started to make plans to move to LA after my college graduation.
But in my last year of college, the beginnings of my acting career started to nose dive. The agency I was with started to go under, auditions were diminishing, I was losing confidence in the audition room and sadly I wasn’t enjoying acting anymore. But I didn’t want to let go of something I had done for so long and worked so hard for. I started to get frustrated with God because I thought, “Why he would give me this talent and suddenly close all the windows of opportunity to use it?”. But slowly during that frustrating time, I began to realize I didn’t need to let go of my talents. I needed to surrender them. I needed to invite God on the journey and let Him take over. Donald Miller’s book A Million Miles in A Thousand Years says it so well, “I admitted something other than me was showing a better way. And when I did this, I realized the Voice, the Writer who was not me, was tryingto make a better story, a more meaningful series of experiences, I could live through. At first, even though I felt God writing something different, I’d play the scene the way I wanted to. This never worked. It would always have been easier to obey the Writer, the one who knows the story better”.
God does write better stories. For the past three years, He has been revealing His plans for my life in a way I would have never imagined. But when I look back at my story, it makes sense that He has called me to lead Sketch & Believe. Thirteen years ago, my story was just like the story of the girls in my program. I didn’t know how much I was loved by Jesus. I didn’t know He had a great plan for me. It is humbling and touching to know that now God is using me to help them see His love and presence. He is rewriting my story to involve His heart for the broken.
As I lead the Sketch & Believe ministry, I see how God is using all my passions such as missions, youth, the arts and my faith. I am currently acting in a play called the Ultimate Sacrifice with a theater group called Exousia Media. This play tackles many social issues that often plague communities like Jane-Finch. However it delivers a message that the gospel needs to and can reach even the toughest communities. My hope this Spring is to have a benefit performance night in which the proceeds will go to the Sketch & Believe program and Hoop to Hope (another YU program in the Jane- Finch community but for boys). Stay tuned to learn more soon! // Vanessa M