From the Executive Director

  Back to About

Leslea and Dan at the Van Gogh exhibition in September


Watercolor of our Study Center Chapel by FOCUS alumna Lydia Marie Elizabeth (

“I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.”-Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890)

Leslea and I recently visited an exhibition entitled, Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience. Surrounded by two-story projections of the artist’s most famous paintings, it was thrilling to step into Sunflowers, Café Terrace at Night, and the Self Portrait that so strikingly conveys the “fervor and fragility of Van Gogh’s life.”1 I was particularly moved by the swirling, luminous beauty of The Starry Night, which evoked these words of praise:

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him? (Psalm 8:3-4)

The son of a Dutch Reformed minister, Van Gogh had a Christian upbringing and early ministry aspirations of his own. Although struggles with mental health and depression persisted throughout much of his life, and it is unclear whether he maintained a Christian faith to the end, Van Gogh wrote to a friend:

“Christ alone, of all the philosophers, magicians, etc., has affirmed eternal life as the most important certainty, the infinity of time, the futility of death, the necessity and purpose of serenity and devotion. He lived serenely, as an artist greater than all other artists, scorning marble and clay and paint, working in the living flesh.” 2

Our ministry is all about introducing students to the good news of Christ’s love – and this issue of inFOCUS uses art to help celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the FOCUS Study Center. For many in our FOCUS community, the intricate drawing of the Lodge, the warm watercolor of the Chapel, and the playful depictions of various Summer Program settings will be richly nostalgic. Most importantly, may these renderings remind us how God has used this beautiful property in the lives of thousands of students, staff, and volunteers across five decades.

 Dan Walker                                                                            Executive Director

1. National Gallery of Art.

2. Letter to Emile Bernard. Written 23 June 1888 in Arles. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number B08.


Learn More About FOCUS

Interested? Learn More