In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, a theater director from Texas started a company named The Call-Out with the goal of calling Christians to use their gifts and creative spirits to spread the gospel. Throughout the course of the project, several Harding students have also gotten involved.
The Call-Out is a resource to connect God’s gospel to an artist’s heart founded by Amy Smissen, a director and choreographer in Texas. The company’s efforts are currently focused on their social media presence with Instagram and Facebook accounts, but Smissen said she hopes to expand their reach in the future.
Harding junior Cassie Weaver is among one of the Harding students involved in The Call-Out. Weaver, a former student of Smissen’s, was called to join the team about one year into the development process of The Call-Out. She meets with other teammates twice a week, brainstorms ideas and writes content.
“I got on board with The Call-Out because I did ‘Mary Poppins the Musical’ with Amy [Smissen] and Craig [Jerpi], who then went on to create The Call-Out,” Weaver said. “They were praying about who would be involved and help them, and the Lord highlighted my name, so I have been praying and dream-building and helping for about a year now.”
With Weaver’s theater background and her enthusiasm for creating and directing, she said she was thrilled to help with this project. Weaver said The Call-Out hopes to raise generations to call out God’s good news.
“Creativity is such a beautiful thing, and we know that it comes from the one source and one source only,” Weaver said. “It is by no accident that God would choose artists to communicate stories. At The Call-Out, we believe in studying the word of God in its entirety, disciplining the gifting of a God-given craft, and training to the utmost excellence. We are raising up fearless generations to boldly call out God’s Good News and to live out their transformation story.”
Weaver isn’t the only Harding student this company has involved in its mission to “creatively broadcast Gospel transformation.” A video posted on The Call-Out Instagram page highlighted several Harding students, showcasing their talents of dancing, singing, drawing and playing an instrument. One of those students was sophomore Jackson Gilreath.
“Being a part of The Call-Out was extremely encouraging for me above all else,” Gilreath said. “To be reminded that any talents I have are God-given and that there are so many ways to worship him through them was a blessing.”
Smissen said she first felt God using the arts in her life to do work for his kingdom when she was directing a production in 2014. Since then, she has been searching for ways to put God back into the arts.
Due to fear of letting artistry become an idol, Smissen said God asked her to give it to him, which gave her time to learn more about God and, in turn, help her create The Call-Out.
“After spending years of getting to know who I was in Christ and getting to know his redemptive story better, he handed the gift back,” Smissen said. “In the past two years, God has brought a divine team to come alongside this vision and carry out the mission he has given us. We are humbled and honored to stand in the gap fighting for the arts to be reclaimed for the kingdom.”
In the future, Weaver and Smissen said The Call-Out hopes to focus on the next generation to help and encourage them in the pursuit of God and artistry. What started with a theater teacher in Texas and grew to a social media presence, they hope will grow into even bigger and more impactful projects.
“We want to provide resources that equip and empower [Christian artists] to simultaneously study God’s word and build on their artistry,” Weaver said. “Our hope and prayer are that Call-Out, one day, will be a place where God-sized dreams can be cultivated and birthed out of.”