Life and Art Intersect – Volunteer hopes to inspire others
Having volunteering at the Nashville Rescue Mission in the past, artist Kelly O’Neill knew exactly where to look for inspiration when God prompted her to paint her most recent painting, The Hour I First Believed.
God the Creator
“I was singing Amazing Grace at church when a vivid memory of singing the song with my grandfather shortly before his death popped into my head,” shares Kelly. “It had been seven years, but as I sang the words my grandfather lived and believed—‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved. How precious did that grace appear, the hour I first believed.’ I saw what I knew would be my next painting, as clearly in my mind as if it was already completed.”
As with most of her “God-inspired paintings,” Kelly knew that not to paint it would be disobedience. It was important to Kelly she use a model who had truly experienced God’s transforming grace.
“After hearing so many amazing stories of transformation from both men and women going through the Mission’s life-recovery program I knew this is where I’d find just the right person to use in this painting,” said Kelly.
Free in Christ
“In my mind, I envisioned a man, tattooed and masculine, shackled, but Christ is releasing his chains,” says Kelly. “It is the moment of his salvation…the hour he first believed. This was the painting God was telling me to paint. After talking with a couple of people at the Mission, I was directed to a young man named Chris who was in their life-recovery program. Not only did Chris look the part, but he also had a *compelling story of transformation.”
“The Hour I First Believed is a painting that depicts freedom. It is a freedom that is available to every person who accepts Christ as their savior. Romans 3:23-24 says ‘…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.’”
“I’m donating my first copy of this painting to the Nashville Rescue Mission,” shares Kelly. “How God uses my paintings is always a wonderful mystery to me, but I can’t wait to see what He’ll do with this one! My hope is that it will inspire all who see it. And if it draws someone to the Mission to either serve or be served, there is no doubt they will be blessed.”
*Read Chris’s testimony