Artful Communication

1999 Alumnus Uses Pottery to Engage People in Cologne, Germany

Artful Communication

On a busy street in Cologne, Germany, one storefront draws attention. Through the window, people watch as Gardner-Webb University alumnus Dave Byers (’99) works at a pottery wheel.

Byers creates pottery and recycles it. “I have opportunities to share hope through the process of making clay pots, as well what happens to them when they break or fail to meet expectations, ” he related. “Most people will want to just throw it away, because it is junk, but the process of recycling clay—of taking the hardened clay pot and recycling it—makes it easier to describe to people why I believe in a God who created me while I’m creating something.”

He also draws people into his shop by writing clever sayings on a chalkboard. “Germans have an innate curiosity,” Byers shared. “That curiosity led more people to come in and talk. I focus on building relationships with people and through that, share kingdom ideas and God’s word.”

Byers and his family have lived in Germany for 11 years. In partnership with Greater Europe Mission, they work with a church and youth ministry. His pottery studio has flourished, and his wife has focused her talents to minister to victims of human trafficking through the International Justice Mission and A21 Campaign.

Byers’ journey to Cologne was the result of a series of opportunities, including his decision to major in communication studies with photography concentration and minor in art at Gardner-Webb. “Everything I learned through the communication courses has helped me—from public speaking, designing print materials and ceramics,” he reflected. “I make a living creating art, preaching, communicating and telling stories.”

Besides developing his skills, his professors gave him confidence. “Professors like Ms. (Susan) Bell and Bob Carey, and others on campus seemed to be glad I was here,” Byers observed. “They made me feel welcomed and they saw a gift in me.”

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