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Evangelist’s drawings help people see Jesus’ life-changing message

OTTUMWA, Iowa (BP)–Can a drawing of a mule pulling a plow bring a man to faith in Christ?
Chalk artist Randy Davis drew such a picture during a revival service at Faith Baptist Church in Ottumwa, Iowa. Then, with a special black light, Davis illuminated a “hidden message” drawn in fluorescent chalk. For serviceman Dan Keith, in the audience during a leave from boot camp, the chalk drawing caused him to realize he was a sinner and needed Christ as his Savior.
Through a series of overhead transparencies, Davis, a full-time evangelist, had first visualized the message of man’s separation from God by depicting two huge cliffs divided by a deep canyon. As Keith stared at the drawing, he realized he was a sinner and cut off from God. For the first time he understood the truth of Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
As Davis continued, illustrating how men try to bridge the gap between themselves and God through good works, religion and even morality, Keith began to consider his own lifestyle.
Davis’ overhead transparencies then noted three steps of faith a person must take to be made right with God: 1) admit you are a sinner and repent of sin, 2) recognize God’s love for you in Christ and 3) receive him and his love by faith.
During the next portion of the service, as special music played in the background, Davis moved from teaching with the overhead projector to a partially completed chalk drawing where he added a few brief strokes to the picture of a mule pulling a plow. When Davis switched on the black light, the special lighting revealed a drawing of praying hands.
Troubled by the drawings and the message they contained yet “fighting my feelings,” Keith left the service with his future wife, Andrea, who had invited him to the service.
As he drove away from the church, he became so convicted that he pulled off the road and stopped the car, telling Andrea he knew he needed to be saved. She helped him remember the words of a simple prayer Davis had presented during the service: “Lord, I know you’re speaking to me. I know that Jesus died for me, and I know that I need to accept him. I’m tired of fighting, and I know the best thing for me is for you to come into my life and be my Savior. I’m asking you to do that right now.” At that moment, Keith recounted, Jesus became his Savior and Lord.
Keith credits Davis’ Spirit-filled teaching and illustrations as the instruments the Lord used to cause him to realize his need of Christ. “If the Spirit wasn’t there,” Keith said, “there would be no impact.”
Davis is quick to echo the same sentiment about his artistic gift. “I have always been interested in art,” he explained, “but I’ve never had any formal training. I always have to pray for the Lord’s intervention in the service and that God would be in control of everything that’s said and done. It’s a very humbling experience for me.”
Under the Lord’s direction in 1989, Davis and his wife, Shirley, formed Drawing Closer Ministries, and he resigned from his job painting signs for churches and businesses to have a full-time career as a chalk artist. They travel from their hometown in Ottumwa, Iowa, almost every weekend to minister in churches for three-day revivals or Sunday services.
It was during a three-day revival at Living Hope Bible Church in Eldon, Iowa, four years ago that Bonnie Essary, 33, first “saw” the message of the gospel when Davis depicted the words of Jesus from Matthew 7:13-14: “Enter by the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
Essary recounted how Davis drew two paths. On the left was a broad road with a big gate and lots of people traveling down it. Davis had labeled it as the path of sin. On the right of the chalk drawing was the narrow path, an ascending and difficult path, with a picture of Christ on a cross at the top. Davis explained the verse and the choice the person standing at the fork in the road must make about his eternal destiny.
“I realized how easy it was for me to keep going on down that wide path,” Essary said. “I finally figured everything out when I saw that picture.” When Davis turned on the black light to reveal the “hidden message,” it was an illustration of Christ with the crown of thorns on his brow. Essary remembers, “That was when I realized Jesus hung on that cross for me.” Those who desired to make a commitment to Christ were invited to come forward at the end of the service and make their decision known to the pastor. Essary did so that night, and the pastor led her in a prayer to ask the Lord to become her Savior.
“It was a decision that changed my life tremendously,” she says. “After I got saved, my husband was saved and later my two children came to know the Lord.” She believes Davis has been given this unique gift of illustrating the simple message of the gospel for those who need to “see the Bible verses” in order to understand them.
“My motivation,” says Davis, “is just to share the gospel and other Bible principles through a unique means of presentation so that others can come to know him.” He believes the Lord uses his own ministry — even drawing a mule pulling a plow — as one of hundreds of ways he makes his gospel known to a lost world.

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  • Luana Ehrlich