Open Reflections From an Open Mic

By: Nathan Reid-Welford

Tags: vanity of vanities winter 2024

“Welcome to the Quest Open Mic,” Taps, the Creative Outreach Coordinator of Quest says, introducing the first performer.  


The lights dim. Cool blue mixed with a tinge of white, washes over the stage. Chalk shines off the blackboard backdrop, the word Quest and the submission deadline illuminated.. The artist reaches for the mic. A voice flutters into the rec centre, conveying a story, weaving a creative web of personal thoughts, contemplations, observations, hardships, and good memories.


The audience of about 35 people watch attentively. Core contributors to semester magazine editions. Supportive friends. Curious minds investigating what happens here when the house lights are dashed. A few alumni, experiencing the culture we set in motion just before their time at Redeemer expired. 


The artist steps off the stage amid applause. Another person picks up where they left off. And so, it goes.


One by one, audience members approach me. 


I want to perform.


I smile. That’s great. 


I sort of wrote a poem I’d like to read.




Another. I’ve never spoken at an open mic, but I’ll give it a try.


Awesome. This is the place to do it.


The night continues, but inside time stands still. The passion, the spark of creativity plays out beneath the lights. Amplified soundwaves circulate the space, delivering the creativity, swirling around the rafters, forcing their way outside like messengers, searching for ears to pique the curiosity of unknown individuals. To draw them in and gather the community around the essential expression of creative arts.


Quest is Redeemer’s Creative Arts club. We produce a magazine based on a biblical theme that features student work every semester. From poetry, to photography, monologues, to visual arts, the magazines are a collection of the student body’s creativity. Our goal is to give every student, weather they are studying arts, english, business, science, psychology or anything else, the opportunity to tap into their creative potential, grow their confidence, find and create community with other artists, and provide a platform for their work. We believe that God has given everyone a little bit of the gift of artistic and creative ability, and that this is best utilized in community with one another when it can be put on display. I didn’t start the club… but I nearly ended it.

The realization suddenly hits me as I sit at the back of the rec centre, taking everything in. I remember the email I was included in two summers ago, sent by Redeemer Senate, addressed to Club Leaders. Including me, the forgetful, prospective Quest leader. I’d nearly turned down the job. I’d started a rash reply to decline the position as thoughts of doubt, excuses, and concern rambled through my brain. Then I stopped, shut my computer, thought about it, and instead confirmed my role. I look at the stage, which is occupied by a performer reading a poem, at the captivated audience, at the professional looking magazines placed on their tables. Who knows what would have happened if something hadn’t come over me.


Sure, maybe Grace (an alumni now) would have reached out to senate instead of me and got the club going again. Maybe Sarah would have brought her graphic design skills along to make the magazine a reality. And maybe she would have still convinced Ben to join as a senior editor a year later. But with the change of one email, I got to be part of it all. 


Releasing three (soon to be four) biblically themed magazine editions. Launching the event and open mic side of the club. Watching as it has grown into a closely knit, supportive, and inspiring community. Seeing people step out of their comfort zone and build their confidence. Glorifying God by showcasing Christian artists and the gifts he has bestowed upon. 


But as I said before, Grace is an alumnus now. Sarah, Ben, and I are graduating in April. As I keep my eyes on the stage it feels like I’m staring down that email again. 


Uncertainty. Internal ramblings of doubt and concern.


Was it worth it? What’s next?


I stop myself. I continue looking at the stage and the occupied seats around the room. We answered God’s call on our hearts. And He provided. As I scan the place I see Taps, Avigail, Madison, Alexander, Terel, and Rebecca. The team He put in our path to equip so that they can continue to expand the club and listen to the call on their hearts to positively impact the community, show their faith, and bring people together.


Isn’t that the mission? The calling? The task? The Quest? Not just for a university club. Not just for artists, or students. But for Christians. Everywhere and anywhere.


As Taps retakes the stage and thanks everyone for joining us, the house lights come on. I stand up and join in the applause. I’m glad I could be a part of it.