In my first year at college, I walked into a Christian (adjective, not the noun) bookstore for ideas to decorate my dorm room. I noticed the art on the walls. So this is what Christian art looks like. I didn’t disagree with the truth displayed; I just wasn’t into quaint scenes with cottages and deer nor moments that were precious.
I had a vision. “It would be sweet to create art of my faith that was formatted differently”. Everything starts with vision, but it remains incomplete without obedience. I had some talent because my Dad was an artist, but I hadn’t painted since I was a junior in high school. To this day, I've never attended art school or taken a post education art course.
That moment was like when God told Sarah she was going to give birth to a son (Genesis 18:12). I doubted. I didn’t rush out to buy art supplies, and years passed while I searched for a vision that had already been given.
After we graduated from North Central University, my wife and I worked corporate jobs in Minnesota. We worked, and we worked hard. As I continued to get promoted, my wife and I moved to California, and soon I was clearing a large income in my early twenties.
It has been obedience, complete brokenness, and the forgiveness of others and ourselves that led us to the next chapter.
We returned to Minnesota. We slept on my brother-in-law’s floor while trying to find a place to live. During this trying time, I was left wondering what God was doing in my life. Eventually we found a house, and I worked mudding drywall, which is an art in itself. Exhausted, one evening I locked myself in the basement and told God I wasn’t leaving until He told me what I was to BE with my life. I said I would rather die in the basement than leave not knowing. Hours passed and finally He spoke through my tears. “I already told you.”
Instantly I remembered when I stood in the Har Mar Mall off Snelling Avenue in Roseville, MN and had that vision, “It would be sweet to create art of my faith and format it differently.” This time I didn’t doubt, but like Joseph, I proclaimed (Genesis 37:5).
Telling my wife was fun.
“Hey, honey—I’m going to be an artist.”
I rushed out and bought art supplies.
So it began. It was my HERE moment. What's yours?
I never set out to become an author, paint live during a message or a worship service, unlock creative gifts in others, consult creativity for ministries, or speak at events. I just wanted to be His masterpiece, and become the one He wanted me to be. After all, We are his greatest, and our greatest work is becoming Him.
I’m not qualified, formally trained, worthy, or able in my own strength, yet the path was set. New vision was revealed. Obedience and sacrifice always preceded this vision. Vision grows like fruit and is nurtured with obedience and sacrifice.
We have seen much fruit in our own lives and in the lives that God has allowed us to touch. This hasn’t come without a cost; it never does. Love always cost something. We all have gifts, talents, and abilities that will change this world, and sometimes we don’t know they exist until God gets a hold on us.
We named this thing we do No One Underground because of a vision I had after reading 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, “with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, (I played trumpet in high school, so I like verses having to do with trumpets) and the dead in Christ will rise first.”
This got me thinking, if you’re not dead in Christ, you’re left in the ground. We don’t want to see anyone left in the ground on the day of Christ’s return. We want to leave No One Underground.
No One Underground has changed, learned, grown, and has an exciting vision for the future that includes you. God has called me to write and create more art. I'd love to continue speaking and painting in public schools and behavioral health clinics with the focused intent on hope honoring the laws in place of church and state.
I won’t burn bridges with a school community or business leader by trying to slip past them what they would call “religion.” I respect the landscape we live in. I also value people who have a different worldview than I do. In public schools we don't have to agree on everything, but we do agree that kids need hope. Let’s move in that direction.
We started our 501c3 nonprofit titled Painting Hope, www.paintinghope.com to partner with you to reach our world more effectively by partnering with communities, people across the aisle, to bring hope to everyone.
You can partner with us yearly, monthly, or by shopping the NOU store.
This is not a slick set up to ask for your money. I don’t want people to partner with us because our marketing is slick, but because our mission is yours. Luke 10:2 says, “...ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.” For many, NOU is the answer to that prayer.
We would not be here without God’s favor, mercy, and those who helped us along the way. We hold loosely to our ministry, and try not to take ourselves too seriously because after all, it’s all His.
Thank you for hearing a bit of our story; we pray it has now become part of yours.
Remember, there is no trailer hitch on a hearse. The war is raging, so rage on. Let’s leave No One Underground.