I pitched my easel to paint en plein air next to a liquor store in Pasadena, CA. Two young guys in their early teens came over to see what I was doing. They were stylishly overdressed, wearing what seemed to be every trendy clothing label they could find.
Safe in the Lord
When I explained that I was there to paint the scene across from me, they couldn’t figure out why. They would soon learn why. I began with the pen & ink drawing, during which time they stepped away from my easel to make (what appeared to be) a drug sale. When I saw that, I prayed quietly and asked the Lord if He wanted me to stay, knowing that things could get dangerious. I got the green light to stay, so I continued with the artwork.
When they returned to check on my progress, I turned the conversation from art to Jesus. “I’ve all that heard that before,” said one of the guys quoting a scripture out of context. “You may have heard it, but are you living it?” I asked. “I don’t need that,” he answered in a very snarky way. I said, “Ok,” and turned to the other teen and asked, “What about you?” He shook his head ‘no’, so I returned to my painting. They eventually wandered off to the entrance of the liquor store. Soon a man stepped out of the liquor store and stood at a distance and watched me. I continued to paint.
Customers came and went from the liquor store. One was a man driving a pickup truck. He went into the liquor store while his passanger waited in the truck. She watched me for a moment, then got out and walked over. She was wearing a halter top and a tight skirt so short that it could have been a handkerchief. I smiled at her and returned to the painting. The moment she saw the painting, she began to shower me with compliments. “Thanks. It’s a gift God gave me,” I responded. “What gift did God give you?” “I’m a dancer,” she replied.
We chatted for a while, but when I learned that she was more interested in her daughter’s success, I asked if I could pray for her daughter. “Yes, please!” she answered. “But first, is there anything I can pray for you about?” I asked. “I need a job.” she said. “Are you saved?” I asked her. “Yes, I gave my life to Jesus in Texas,” she answered. I knew she was telling me the truth, so I prayed for her and her daughter. I usually keep my eyes open when I pray for people out on the street, though she had her head bowed and eyes closed. I noticed that the man she was with came out of the liquor store with a six-pack of beer and got back into the truck. When I finished the prayer, with tears in her eyes, she threw her arms around my neck and thanked me profusely. She added, “Why aren’t there more people like you?” I didn’t quite know how to answer her at first, knowing it was the Lord in me and keenly aware that there were too few Christians taking the love of Jesus to the streets. I handed her a Talent Search tract and simply replied, “It’s Jesus.” When she rejoined her companion and they drove away, the man looked at me, but I didn’t detect any hostility in his eyes.
Mockers Can’t Stop You
I returned to my painting. Soon, a man came toward me riding on a bicycle. He stopped and we began to chat. I was also joined by the trendy-kids again. When I turned the conversation with the biker toward Jesus, the man listened intently. I asked him if he wanted to invite Jesus into his life, he said, “Yes.” I told him I would lead him in a prayer of salvation. As we began to pray, the two guys began to mock and taunt him. I paused and told the man to ignore them. When we finished praying, the kids simply walked away. I asked the man if there was anything else he needed prayer for. He showed me his swollen hand and said that he had the gout. I laid my hand lightly on his and prayed. Before he rode away, he said that the two kids didn’t know if they were boys or girls. I looked over at the guys who had now joined some of their friends. They did look too pretty to be men; even young men.
Before I packed up my gear and drove away, the man who had earlier stepped from the liquor store came to my easel. “What are you doing?” he asked bluntly. “Painting,” I replied and handed him a Talent Search tract and asked if he worked at the liquor store. He said he was the owner. He looked at the tract and walked back into the liquor store.