fear not God can be trusted
listen to the Lord…
Belonging House began with a simple direction:
Listen to the Lord and do what He tells you.
In 2005 Christ John Otto was directed to begin praying for a “house.” This would be the beginning of a great adventure, and also the first step toward walking a life of faith patterned after the ministry of George Muller. A year later, Otto left his job as a full-time artist and began spending time in worship in the morning and writing in the afternoon.
an army of artists…
As detailed in several of his books, those little steps led to a dramatic encounter with an angel, an “open heaven” experience, and the call to “raise up an army of artists who will build Jesus a throne in the earth.”
And then God began to provide — first in the humblest way possible. We began receiving toilet paper. This unusual sign continued from 2005 until 2018. People gave it as gifts, sent it in the mail, and left it on the doorstep. We lost count at 500 rolls.
We pursued four houses over the first twelve years of the ministry. Throughout this time our director lived in all kinds of situations and we went without a physical location. Because of this, we have had to focus on relationships, honing our message, and building an online community. And what we actually do has been shaped by being a “virtual house.”
Instead of recruiting people to support a building, we have been building people who will advance the Kingdom.
coffee shop ministry
Belonging House began with conversations with artists at the Nervous Dog Coffee Bar in Akron, Ohio. All of Otto’s books, and most of the Friday emails have been written in coffee shops around the world. A lot of one on one prayer, teaching, and relationships have formed over coffee and the MacBook Pro.
From conversations in coffee shops around the world, we have discovered the culture is asking three key questions:
- do I have value?
- who am I?
- where do I belong?
And the gospel has excellent answers to these questions:
- you are made in the image of God
- you are a son or daughter of God
- you have a place in the Kingdom
And Belonging House encourages artists:
- to walk in their true identity
- live out of a place of belonging
- drip with the water of the Holy Spirit
Out of this inner life, we believe we can shape and transform culture by presenting the answers to these questions.
the Friday email
In 2006 we began sending out an email to six friends who had agreed to pray for Christ Otto and the ministry. This list has grown slowly, and now reaches nearly 1000 artists and creative people every week all over the world. This email has been the backbone of Belonging House for over a decade and has “gone viral” on several occasions.
workshops & teaching
Christ Otto has been doing workshops for artists and unconventional people since 2012. Rather than focus on the conference circuit, he has intentionally chosen to gather with groups of 12-30 in homes and small venues. This format has allowed time for questions, meaningful relationships and life changing prayer ministry. It has also made it possible for emerging leaders to take steps to grow their own communities without the risk of putting on a large conference.
In 2014 we began having invitation only gatherings of arts leaders. These gatherings of “eagles” provide time to talk, prayer, worship, and eat together.
Also in 2014 two women in England contacted us and asked if they could have video calls with Christ Otto. Glenda Gibson and Donna Drouin were the first to develop online video relationships with Belonging House, and their invitation to the U.K. opened up an international ministry. Since then dozens of artists and writers have received prayer ministry, spiritual and practical guidance, and ongoing friendship via online conferences.
a place at the gate
We encourage Christians to take a their “place at the gate” of influence like Mordecai in the book of Esther. For many years that meant being involved in the annual Halloween festivities in Salem, Massachusetts. These Ghostbusters asked for a picture with Christ Otto because he had developed a reputation in Salem as a real “ghostbuster.”
fabulous dinner parties
Art and Food make us who we are, and for many in Boston, Belonging House has been known for “fabulous dinner parties.” Two annual events, the Belonging House Family Passover Seder and “Hannukah Lite” have been times to eat, hear the stories of salvation, express creativity and see miracles. We have seen fathers and sons reconciled, families healed, and new believers come to Christ all around the table.
healing the land
It may seem odd that a ministry to artists and creative people would spend a lot of time prayer walking, “healing the land” through breaking curses and releasing forgiveness, and bringing racial reconciliation. The most creative work is the work of restoring places long devastated and rebuilding ancient ruins. We have seen powerful prayer ministry in Salem and Boston, Massachusetts.
We depend on God for everything, and we have an amazing prayer team. Once a month members of our prayer team gather online to bless the ministry for the coming month.
our name and our logo
The name Belonging House was birthed out of the sense that artists and creative people were leaving the church because they did not belong. For over a decade the poetry of David Whyte was instrumental in Christ John Otto’s formation, and in particular the themes in Whyte’s book The House of Belonging. In 2006 David Whyte graciously gave us permission to use the name Belonging House. The name has served us well.
Our logo has been through many alterations, but its root idea comes from the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The passionate love of God is the center of our calling, and the place where we all belong. When we encounter that love, our hearts are “strangely warmed” to use the words of John Wesley.
We have played with the visual idea of a heart and house for over 10 years. Houses with hearts have become a cliche, and Lyn Silarski devised the brilliant idea of a house inside the heart. The light in the window is always on, because someone is always waiting for you. The three rays represent the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and the light always coming out of the house and going into the culture of the world.
Then the Lord showed me artisans from the four corners of the earth. And I asked, what are these artisans coming to do? And the Lord said, these horns are the powerful nations that scattered Judah, so no one could raise his head. But these artisans have come to terrify them and to strike down the forces that rise up against God’s people.
Zechariah 1:21 (paraphrased)
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Each Friday we send out an email to our Belonging House family. In 13 years we haven’t missed a week. Each email promises to inspire, teach, and tell the story of what God is doing through Belonging House. We do not use the emails to raise money or sell books.
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