January 21, 2012

Back From Captivity

I went to prison for the first time THIS year. I tend to find myself in and out of prisons, but this was the first time of the New Year. I was ushered to the back room with my team of One Heart volunteers where we met 6 youthful offenders. We were there to spend 4 hours with our hands in paint with them. I usually begin art camps with free form drawing. They can draw anything except gang related items and it has to be appropriate. This allows me to assess where their hearts are and to see if there is any artistic talent in the room. Usually there are always one or two gifted artists. “Jose” (Not his real name) was not one of the gifted artists. He was moderate, but not gifted like the boy next to him who was a “tagger”(graffiti artist). However, it wasn’t his gift that drew me to him. It was his heart.

It was a heart at war. Death vs. Life.

Picture a 16″x20” blank canvas.

“Jose” used a black leaded pencil to draw an evil looking skeleton head smack dab in the center.

Out of the heart art flows, but so do dreams.

This is the same boy who told me he wants to have a car shop when he gets old enough. He wants a place for single moms to bring their cars to get fixed at a cheap rate because they need a lot of help and they don’t have much money.

Death vs. life all wrapped up in a juvenile offender.

I was able to redirect his drawing by telling him that the skeleton symbolized death and he has a choice to continually keep his thoughts on death or he can choose to think about things that bring forth life.

So he covered it up with a drawing of a cross.

Interesting choice.

We were then able to talk about how religion leads to death and relationship with Jesus leads to life.

Not sure he got it.

So we progressed to pouring paint all over his canvas and spraying it with water all the while talking about Jesus being The Living Water.

Not sure he got it.

By the end of the camp he had the messiest, wettest, jumble of paint on his canvas.

It was a beautiful mess.

Life is messy.

“There’s a way that seems right to man, but in the end it leads to death.” Proverbs 14:12

I’m praying for “Jose” that he chooses the way that will lead to life. Abundant life.

He left camp filled with joy. He loved his painting. He loved more the Scripture I highlighted for him in a Bible I gave him. I don’t think he had ever heard that God had a plan for his life. This is what I read to him:

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, AND WILL BRING YOU BACK FROM CAPTIVITY.” Jeremiah 29:11-14

“Jose” longs to be brought back from captivity. You could see the hunger in his eyes.

I don’t know what will happen to “Jose.”

I do know that in his heart rages a turf war. Death vs. life is continually before him.

I’m praying that somehow spraying water on his canvas will lead him to accept The One who is The Way, The Truth and The life.