Using Your Gifts: Alison’s Story

1 October 15Art, Gifts, Serving

Recently, I looked around at all the faces in church and realised that with the exception of my wife, I did not know a single person there two years ago. It’s really amazing how God builds His church, bringing together people who would otherwise not have known each other. Every church community will look and feel different based on who is part of it.

One of the great blessings God gives each local gathering is the gifts and skills that each member brings to the whole. One of the jobs of a pastor is to encourage their church to recognise and use those gifts appropriately to the glory of God.

Here is Alison’s story:

FOUNDATIONALAlison has been part of our church family for almost a year, and it will be evident below is a gifted illustrator and artist. For the last two terms, Alison has been designing and crafting our sermon series concepts. And the results have been amazing. I asked a few questions about her life as an artist:

  1. How long have you been drawing for?

Always. Through childhood, school, university and my career. Although I did stop for a few years when I became a mother and I haven’t had the same time and energy since then to do as much as I used to.

  1. What do you love about drawing?

It makes me happy. It feels natural. And it’s the easiest thing I can do to make other people smile.

  1. What are some of the projects you have been involved in?

It’s how I’ve always derived my income – cartoons, comics, games graphics, tv animation, greeting cards, web graphics etc. 12 years ago I started up a gaming production company with some friends which pushed me out of illustrating into a art direction role and into training and mentoring lots of really talented young artists. But recently I’ve been more focused on personal projects and creating more experimental illustrations. Creating for pleasure without the pressure of meeting client expectations. Oh and I’ve created a few illustrations for one1seven church.

  1. How does an awareness that God has blessed you with an ability help you to use those gifts for Him?

I’m thankful that God has generously blessed me in my career as a result of my art skills. Like many artists, I really struggled financially and was always worried about how I could build a career in art,  but amazingly when I became a Christian at the age of 24 I doubled my income within a year and my career has since  taken many unexpected but fruitful paths that I had never planned to take. More recently I’ve been praying for ways that I can use my skills to more directly serve in God’s kingdom.

  1. What was the inspiration behind your concept for the Philippians sermon series?

joy_AlisonSmallwoodI was given the theme of “Joy’ to work with. Being joyful is something I wish I could do better so I searched through Philippians hoping to find the answer. This verse stood out for me:

” What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” (Phil. 3:8)

I really struggle with accepting the truth of this verse so it was quite liberating to pile up images of things that bring myself and others joy and then turn them into rubbish. I think I’m that bit closer now to trusting Christ to be the source of my joy.


Throughout October we’ll be highlighting a few of the stories that God has brought to our church.

In Christ,