by Laurie-Ann Copple
Anyone who knows me even a little, knows that I love to draw. It’s an expression of creativity that I’ve had for years. It carried over to my devotional life as a Christian when I came to faith in 1988. I put art aside for a while because at the time, art was my identity. Jesus needed to be my identity instead. The highest identity you can ever have is to be a child of God, unearned, as a gift. The art then becomes an extension of my faith and creativity, which is the right perspective for a God-given gift.
My art came back to me in full during Harvest School in Mozambique in 2016. Then I began to draw during worship services in many places. This grew as an expression of love, not a way to heal my heart. At the time, I never thought that I would be producing a colouring book, let alone two! But it makes me incredibly pleased that I’ve achieved it, with help from translators, a proofreader, and others cheering me on.
Both my current devotional colouring books were produced during a long illness during 2019-2021 (inflammatory breast cancer), and when we were working with kids from primary school, townships, farms and church. We have loved them all. I’m so pleased that God has helped me use the gift he has given me as a way to bless kids and draw them closer to God. In the case of Legacy Relay, art, devotions and soaking prayer has been used to help the school kids to strengthen their creativity, spiritual ears and hearts towards hearing Holy Spirit’s still small voice. We even worked on a painting together that included personal symbols from each child.
Back in 2015, a dear lady at Kingdom Culture church gave me a prophetic word that we would be in Africa for three years (it’s nearly four years now, but the original visa was for three years). She also said that Tony and I would publish three books (there may be more, since my biography “Holy Ghost Sommelier” is on hold, and I plan to combine all my “Ways to Grow in God” articles into a book as well). So if those are published (as e-books), that would be at least four books! Let’s hope so.
The two colouring books contain 109 images from colouring sheets we use with the kids (and adults who are young at heart). I’ve also created another six sheets, so that’s 115 images now available to children’s ministries and missionaries in at least 12 countries. It’s an incredible privilege to sow these into these groups as a gift.
So how did I begin the colouring sheets? Well, my prophetic drawings look a bit like colouring book images – whether they are filled in or not. I never thought to make a book out of them, but one day when I was about to colour in an drawing, I heard the still small voice of Holy Spirit telling me to stop and not colour in the drawing just yet. He wanted me to have Tony scan the drawing so that the children could colour it in instead.
Then I had the first two line drawings ready for the kids to colour. We tried them first on the rough and tumble farm kids. They didn’t want to do anything that we offered them, but I was able to share with them about the drawings, and to tell them that the drawings were created when I was worshipping God. The drawings have an anointing. When people colour them in, they are also entering into worship – especially with the prophetic images. When the farm kids saw the drawings, and began to colour, there was a holy hush in the room and these normally loud, boisterous kids, were quiet, intent and worshipful. We were amazed. Were we on to something?
Then we tried out the colouring with other groups of kids: from Avian Park, from our school MasterPeace Academy, our local church, and then Legacy Relay at Worcester Primary School. Kids in Canada loved them as well, including my own niece, who especially loved the drawing of herself as a princess, looking at her image in a dresser mirror. We initially put the first 21 images on a USB along with 57 audio podcasts of Ways to Grow in God, which sold well in Ontario. But there needed to be a book, with devotional stories about the drawings first in English and Afrikaans.
I worked tirelessly on images (and stories) for Colouring with Jesus, which was first published in March 2020, before we were stranded in lockdown. I was encouraged to draw in the chemo room at Cape Gate Oncology in Brackenfell, Cape Town. I was there often from September 2019 – November 2020 to receive chemotherapy, oncology consults, Herceptin injections and later, radiation therapy. Since the chemo infusion took a long time, the nurses encouraged me to draw. This was a perfect thing to keep my mind occupied, and I drew either by impression, or by drawing people in the room. The first drawing I attempted in the chemo room was “I will give you a new heart.” I had an overlapping impression over sister Marianna. I saw angel wings on her back, and that she had a heart in her hands for the other patient. Marianna (and all the other nurses) loved the drawing. She even bought her own copy of the first book after it was published, as did one of the oncologists.
Most of the images were drawn during the chemotherapy period. The second book, Colouring with Jesus 2, contains 58 images, drawn from February 2020 – January 2021. This spans from chemotherapy, mastectomy, radiation to the monthly Herceptin injections. In February 2021, I was declared chemically cancer-free. Drawing these images and making these books was a needed creative outlet to help me heal. At the same time, many images were impressions or based on prophetic words that I was given. Others, were me trying to capture the amazing scenery or children in this beautiful area of South Africa. Still others were reminders of other places that mean a lot to me. Will there be a Colouring with Jesus 3? Absolutely! Although it won’t be published in South Africa. It may be published in Canada though!
I am thankful to call myself an author as well as an artist. Add to that devotional writer, audio producer, and admin person. I will always be a missionary, although after we return to Canada (which is now looking like October 2021), it won’t be under Iris Ministries Canada. We’ll be retired from that assignment. But we will have an assignment with family in Toronto, before our return to Ottawa in 2022. Then we can start Legacy Relay Canada as a weekly ministry to kids.
We plan to launch an art website after our return, that may include other ways to buy my art, colouring books and art commissions. At this time, people can connect with me for art commissions (for digital versions of commissioned line drawings). Anyone can print a line drawing jpg from a printer, so you don’t have to be local for that.
Thanks for reading. God bless you.
Tony and Laurie-Ann Copple (usually Laurie-Ann)
L-A's devotional blog
TONY'S DEVOTIONAL BLOG
Tony's south african journal
TONY'S POST MISSION JOURNAL