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Christian bookstore’s ‘graffiti’ Bible verse offers God’s comfort amid Fla. hurricanes

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (BP)–Some of the customers have labeled it “Grafitti for Jesus.” Fortunately the graffiti on the plywood covering most of the storefront of the LifeWay Christian Store in Fort Lauderdale didn’t necessitate a call to the police.

“Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age — Matthew 28:20” was sprawled across the convenient canvas. “Y ne aqui yo estoy con vosotros todos los dias, hasta el fin del mundo.”

In fact, it was a store employee who came up with the idea to spray paint Bible verses in English and in Spanish on the boards put up in preparation for Hurricane Frances.

And after Frances came through Sept. 5 further to the north, doing little more than tossing about a few trees and dumping some water at the store’s location, assistant manager Gloria Nicholson decided the new threat of Hurricane Ivan might be reason to leave the boards up a little longer.

“We kind of left it up in anticipation,” Nicholson told the Florida Baptist Witness. “We just have to be prepared and I think it was a good thing. And it makes a great billboard.”

Nicholson credited store associate Dan Houlihan with the idea.

Houlihan, 25, a graduate of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., said customers have been adding their own words of encouragement.

“The verses are just so perfect for the times,” Houlihan said. “Everybody’s all up and rattled, so they like it.”

Nicholson agreed.

“I believe that God has a purpose for it,” she said. “Someone’s going to read that and it will just open their hearts to Jesus.”

Walking out of the store to return back to their home, which was still boarded up in case Hurricane Ivan turned their way, Bill and Barbara McGee said they were “blessed” when Frances came through. There was some wind and their lights flickered at their home in Miramar, but they did not witness any major damage in their part of town.

McGee is pastor of a new church plant, Celebration Baptist Church in Miami, part of the “For You Miami” outreach by the Florida Baptist Convention in conjunction with North American Mission Board’s Strategic Focus Cities emphasis. Celebration’s members currently meet in small groups for Bible study but plan to expand into a regular worship service at Easter.

“Ivan sounded bad from the beginning,” McGee said, reacting to the boarded up store-front at LifeWay. “It is good to err on the side of safety.”

The Bible verses also add a fitting witness to passersby and unchurched who might take note of the verses and be curious enough to look them up.

“I thought it was good, especially in times like this when people are not secure — during storms or hurricanes — or storms that rage in their lives,” McGee said. “God’s Word is there to read and it comforts us.”

There are seven LifeWay Christian Resources bookstores located in Florida — in Fort Lauderdale, Brandon, Jacksonville, Orlando, Pensacola, Tallahassee and Tampa.

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  • Joni B. Hannigan