Christ John Otto
Christ (rhymes with “wrist”) John Otto received a call to begin raising up an army of artists who would build Jesus a throne in the earth in 2006.
His unusual name comes from his great-grandfather, who was from Alsace-Lorraine in France. He is the author of several books for artists and creative people and spends his time doing his current assignment from the Lord:
preach, teach, pray, and write.
From an early age Otto showed gifting in the arts, and by the time he was 15 he was doing commissioned artwork and performing for hire. In college he laid aside his pursuit of an art career to prepare for full-time ministry. During this time he traveled with a revival gospel singing group called “Youth In One Accord.” He obtained his degree from Houghton College in Bible and Christian Education in 1993.
From there he went to Asbury Theological Seminary where he served as the Assistant to the Dean of the Chapel and worked at the Beeson Center for Biblical Preaching. During this time he also was on a church planting team with the North American Mission Society of the Episcopal Church. He finished his M.Div at Asbury in 1997.
During his time at Asbury he briefly explored entering the Abbey of Gethsemani in Trappist, Kentucky. Because of Gethsemani, he befriended many of the monks who were close to Thomas Merton. Merton’s work and spirituality continues to be a strong influence on his writing and ministry today.
Because of his work at Asbury and in the Episcopal Church, he worked with an extaordinary group of people and ministries during this time.
In 2002, with the crisis in the Episcopal Church about to become the global Anglican re-alignment, Otto experienced his own crisis regarding the corruption in the ordination process, and the corruption he witnessed in both the conservative and liberal camps. His ordination process had stalled out in the midst of the growing split in the church over homosexuality. A leader in the Anglican Communion advised him: “You are a priest, just go be a priest.” Not seeing a way to do this, Otto eventually walked away from the ministry, and church.
This resulted in a five year desert of addiction, confusion, and pain. In the midst of this, and with no way to make money, he returned to his first love–being an artist. During this time he worked as a freelance artist in Florida, taught voice, was a studio assistant to two designers, and re-developed his skills as a painter and lettering artist.
The crisis ended with a meeting with his confessor, Father Al Durrance. Father Al said to him, “You have problems that are bigger than I know how to handle, but if you listen to the Lord and do what he tells you, God will show you a way out.”
That way out eventually would lead him to a coffee shop on a Sunday morning. He began listening to the people around him and the questions they asked. Because he learned to listen to God he began worshiping in the morning, and writing in the afternoon. Eventually, listening to God led to the call to raise up and army of artists.
The rest, as they say, is history: 16 years of Friday emails, a global community of artists and creative professionals, a collection of books, a regular praying community, podcasts in English and French, and our online Sunday congregation, Beth Charashim.
All these random life experiences have now come together into what we do today. God never wastes anything.