Five minutes with Mike Klaassen

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In Mike Klaassen’s childhood memories, the Kansas Mennonite Relief Sale was like an annual family holiday. The Hillsboro native from Parkview MB Church would wander the grounds of the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson with his mom and grandma, taking in the sound of the quilt auction and filling his belly with favorite foods from his German-Ukrainian Mennonite heritage.

Since those days, Klaassen has grown to appreciate the event’s global mission as well. He was thrilled to see his artistic talent contribute to that mission as his design recently was chosen in a competition for a new logo for the event.

Why did you enter the competition?

I love designing with a purpose and helping fulfill the mission of a non-profit, partnering with organizations that are changing people’s lives around the world. I see my friends up front preaching and leading worship and going on mission trips. It’s been encouraging to learn that God can also use my contribution in photography and design, which is more from the shadows.

What are the design elements of your logo?

The wheat represents the turkey red wheat that the Mennonites brought when they came to America. The artistry of quilts has served and decorated Mennonite homes. More importantly, both wheat and the quilts have been used to raise support for Mennonite Central Committee’s relief work around the world.

How do these images connect with you personally?

I have family who left Ukraine and Russia to come to America as farmers. The wheat reflects the big risk they took and the hard work they endured for a better future. The quilts make me think of my grandmas who redeemed scraps of cloth and gave us quilts to show how much they loved us.

What does it mean to you to put these images in a logo?

The wheat and the quilts are like the stones that Joshua had the Israelites carry from the river Jordan. They are built into an altar—a visual reminder of God’s faithfulness in the lives of our ancestors and even today.

How do you see your role as an artist in connection with your faith?

We have a creative God who created creative people to do creative things. When God instructed the Israelites to build the ark, robes and to craft other items for worship, the items were not only functional but also beautiful. It’s exciting to be able to create things as an act of worship and see our work point people to our Creator.

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