“People experience a personal touch from God”: How social service veteran Anita Fam is ministering to others through divine art
by Janice Tai // December 8, 2023, 10:31 am
“When people experience a personal touch from God in this form – through a picture or message that deeply resonates with them – they see His heart for them. It exposes them to different dimensions of God and how He works," says Anita, whose prophetic art journey began during the COVID pandemic. Photos by Janice Tai.
As current President of the National Council of Social Service, Anita Fam wears many hats.
She either heads or is on the board of almost a dozen charities or national committees, tapping on her expertise in disability, palliative care and healthcare to serve the vulnerable segments in society.
Yet if there was one thing this former lawyer and active volunteer could not do, it was to paint.
“Art was certainly not my strength. I was only known by my classmates for doodling my infamous ‘hairy legs’ sketches on the margins of their notes and irritating them,” Anita told Salt&Light with a twinkle in her eye.
A comforting image
During the COVID pandemic, however, Anita Fam began taking an interest in watercolour painting. Shortly after, God directed her artistic endeavours down a path of creating “divine” or “prophetic” art that continues to minister deeply to its recipients.
One of them was the late Dr Cynthia Goh, a pioneer for palliative care in Singapore and in the Asia-Pacific region.
Back in January last year, Anita knew that her close friend Cynthia was battling pancreatic cancer. However, she did not know how limited her days were as Cynthia had appeared strong enough to make plans to travel to Ireland to spend time with family there.
As Anita was praying for her friend in mid-January, she saw a whole squadron of towering angels surrounding Cynthia and walking her down a lane. It seemed like they were protecting her but, at the same time, sweeping her along with them.
Anita knew this picture was from God and was meant for Cynthia, but she hesitated sharing it with her friend, lest it cause undue worry, fear or unease about her days ahead.
Upon further prayer, however, she felt peace in her heart and texted her friend to describe the image she saw.
Despite Anita’s fears, Cynthia responded positively.
“This is a very comforting image!” Cynthia replied. “I do need shepherding around to be kept on the straight and narrow. So many things left undone, yet I am not sure if I am meant to do them also. I am happy for them to be left (aside) if they are not for me to do.”
On February 9, four days before Cynthia died, she requested that Anita spend some time with her by her bedside.
Anita painted the image that she had received from God and brought it along to show Cynthia that day. It would be the last time she would sit and talk with her dear friend.
“After she died, a Franciscan sister – another close friend of Cynthia’s – shared with me that Cynthia treasured the painting in her last days. It gave me confidence and faith to trust God that these paintings would land where they were meant to and bring encouragement and reassurance,” said Anita.
For years, Anita has had the spiritual gift of having “words of knowledge” for people that she has been praying for or ministering to.
“It usually comes in the form of an image. When it happens, I just know that I need to share it with the person who is to receive it,” said Anita, who is 60 this year.
Whenever she receives an image from the Holy Spirit, she tries to describe it to the recipient or search for an image online which best matches what she sees in her mind and send it to the person.
However, this meant that there were times when she failed to adequately describe or find an image with fidelity to pass on to the recipient.
“God must have known the deep desire I had within my heart to be able to translate the divine downloads which I get into pictures I could use to minister to those who receive them,” she said.
In July 2020 during Phase Two of the COVID-19 pandemic, Anita suddenly found herself taking an interest in watercolour painting as it seemed “so pretty”.
She made a beeline to Tanglin Mall and bought some paint, paintbrushes and cheap drawing block paper to experiment with.
“My husband Eck Kheng took one look at my efforts and told me that I had used the wrong paintbrushes and paper, and that I had used the watercolour paints wrongly as it seems there are different ways of using different types of paints. He urged me to go for painting classes,” said Anita. Eck Kheng is a potter and their two adult children also enjoy a myriad of artistic pursuits.
Eck Kheng, also a book publisher and owner of Landmark Books Singapore, linked Anita up with an illustrator and she went for four painting classes in August 2020.
“It had much useful information but it was quite technical and I wasn’t much of a follower of rules. It was a discouraging time for me as I wasn’t good at mastering the various techniques. I was quite the dud,” said Anita.
After the group classes were completed, she experimented with different styles and finally settled on a style of ink and paint which she was comfortable with.
She now derives great pleasure from her “doodles” and enjoys painting heritage buildings and places. Her husband affectionately describes them as “wonky” as they are not realistic but “weirdly cute”, said Anita.
More significantly, Anita found that her art journey dovetailed with God answering her heart’s desire to better translate the images in her mind into paintings – something she could not do before.
On October 7, 2020, she received a divine pictorial download for a pastor friend. The picture she saw was of an empty pupa shell hanging vertically downwards with a butterfly resting on the outside of the shell. The butterfly had yellow and black markings.
“Interestingly, the butterfly which I saw was standing upright on the side of the pupa shell rather than hanging upside down which is how a butterfly normally emerges from a chrysalis,” she observed.
Immediately, she texted her friend and described the image she had received for him. The next morning, Anita shared the incident with her husband and he encouraged her to paint what she saw. With her newfound artistry, she did so and delivered the painting to her friend.
“I usually don’t sign off on the painting and I don’t keep it because I am just God’s messenger. I don’t know what the image means to the person,” she said.
One month later, her friend told her that he had discerned after praying that he was the butterfly on the outside waiting for the butterfly inside the chrysalis to emerge – to him, it was a call from God to mentor the next generation.
“It was important that I could paint that for him as there was a visual specificity that was needed for the divine message to come through. I couldn’t have found that image on Google. This gave me a little more confidence to paint what I saw,” said Anita.
Later that month, on October 21, 2020, she again received a specific verse for a friend, one that mentioned lions (Psalm 34: 10-11). Thereafter, God told her to paint a lion alongside the verse.
“I told Him that I couldn’t as I had only just picked up watercolour painting and that I had never painted lions in my life. He told me to trust Him and paint … and so I did,” she said.
The lesson that Anita learnt that day was that God equips His children divinely when they obey His leading.
“It seemed to me that the paint brush took on a life of its own when I painted it. I did not see the lion in my mind’s eye and simply did some strokes, and it turned out looking like a lion,” she added.
That painting strengthened her friend who was facing some challenges in her life at the time.
Prayer before painting
Describing the journey of prophetic art she’s been on, Anita clarified that it is not a tap she can turn on at will.
“It doesn’t happen all the time and I certainly cannot call on it and use it at will. When the image comes, it can come anytime – when I am praying or in the toilet . Sometimes I see something blurry, then it becomes sharper and sharper and stays for a while. That is when I recognise that it is not of my own making,” said Anita.
On other occasions, she would see only a part of the picture and then it would unfold slowly to reveal the rest of the image.
Oftentimes, she takes less than 10 minutes to paint the picture once she receives it. However, there are times when she would have to wait upon God for an extended time before she receives a divine download.
In August this year, God prompted her to do a painting for each of the 33 participants in her church retreat where she was to be the prayer steward. The retreat was scheduled for late October.
In August, she prayed for the participants by name – some of whom she was not familiar with – and received verses for each of them.
In October, she thought she could finish up all the paintings for them while taking a break in her London home. She prayed for days, but no picture downloads came. It was only at the end of the month – just before she flew home to Singapore for the retreat – that the first picture came.
“I realised then that it was only when I am done with one picture that God would reveal the next one,” noted Anita.
At times, she may not even have the name of the person for whom she is praying.
In December 2020, she received a request for help to do prophetic art cards as part of a group initiative to bless and lift the spirits of 120 staff working in a Christian nursing home. Most of them were foreign workers stuck in Singapore in the nursing home during the Covid pandemic.
Her first reaction was not to participate as she was quite new to prophetic art and she did not have the time or confidence to do so for this many people.
But God prompted her to participate. The precise instructions given to her group was to number the notes and then prayerfully ask God what was on His heart for person number 1, 2 and so on.
“The images and downloads came in thick and fast! There was so much clarity even though I did puzzle over some of the downloads given. They seemed rather strange to me,” said Anita.
That was because some of the images appeared random to her – a pile of books or a garden chair – because she had no clue what they could mean to the recipients.
“It’s the Holy Spirit at work and it’s from God. I am just a conduit or instrument to convey His divine message through such a medium. Often, people will ask how did I or God know about it because it’s spot on. It helps them appreciate who God is,” said Anita.
To her, what defines a piece of art as “prophetic” lies in the origins of its inspiration.
“The source it draws from is not of my own artistic creation or inspiration, but from the divine. I am just duty-bound to release it in faith,” she added.
When she shares the pictures with the recipients, she usually prefaces it with an statement such as: “I don’t know what this means but maybe it may mean something to you.”
Then, she leaves it to them to process it with God on their own.
“Oftentimes, I subsequently forget all about it. Later on, some may choose to share with me what it meant to them but there is no need to at all,” said Anita.
A testimony in watercolour
Yet whenever she hears details about the impact or purpose that the divine art pieces have effected, her faith in the omniscience and omnipotence of God is strengthened and her confidence in being used by Him is boosted.
For example, she received the picture of a lighthouse making its way down a slope on the day that a family member of hers was diagnosed with a medical condition earlier this year. The verse that accompanied the vision was Matthew 5:14-16, which speaks of letting our light shine that others may see it and give glory to the Father.
“I knew that she would come out of this health challenge and that she was going through it so that she could be a testimony. The picture gave her the peace and assurance that she needed,” said Anita.
Months later, the disease was found to be in remission and she is on the road to recovery.
In another instance, Anita painted a picture of a Cross shining forth from a low-rise condominium that was flanked by palm trees for a friend who was also facing some medical challenges.
“He told me that I had painted his home. I had no clue when I was doing so. I thought he lived in a high-rise apartment. His estate indeed had palm trees and he also had a cross hanging in his home,” she said.
In turn, her friend felt seen and known by God.
Given its potential for impact or influence on its recipients, Anita is also cautious about the tremendous responsibility of releasing each piece of divine art.
“People can misinterpret it or rely on it as a form of superstition or a crutch. It may give us a glimpse of the future, but prophetic art is not about foretelling the future. I am mindful of not giving my views or conclusions as to what it means,” said Anita.
“It is simply a medium used by God to communicate with the person in such a way that the person would understand what it means. I just draw what I see and don’t add anything to it,” she added.
Whenever she is in doubt about whether to share with someone what she saw or the timing to release it, she would seek the Lord for further confirmation. And if she finds herself not being able to paint something, she stops in her tracks.
“The images paint themselves and some don’t even look as if they have been painted by the same person. He has delighted me with a wonderful gift,” said Anita.
“When people experience a personal touch from God in this form – through a picture or message that deeply resonates with them – they see His heart for them. It exposes them to different dimensions of God and how He works.”
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