Artist's handiwork draws others to Christ

SUGAR HILL, Ga. (BP)--If a picture is worth a thousand words, then Kerry Jackson's chalk drawings speak volumes about his faith in Christ.

Add special-effects lighting, an edgy Christian rock soundtrack and biblical narration and you've got the making of a high-tech, multimedia, evangelistic experience Jackson calls "Drawing to the Rock."

Admittedly, not quite the stage Jackson pictured himself putting his fine arts degree to practice. Formerly the owner of an art studio in Jackson, Miss., he sold his business and home, including all of his art supplies in the early '90s, and moved his wife and two daughters to Fort Worth, Texas, to enroll at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

"I had always wanted to own my business and was pretty successful at it," Jackson said. "I reached a point in my life where I had reached my goal but felt there had to be more to life than that. I soon realized that God was calling me into fulltime ministry."

Shortly after enrolling in seminary, however, Jackson discovered that God wanted to use the artist in him for his glory.

"While sitting in my car listening to music, waiting to pick my daughter up from piano lessons, God literally gave me a vision for 'Drawing to the Rock,'" Jackson recounted. "I literally saw a stage covered with scenes of the life of Christ utilizing special effects such as lighting, drama, etc. God even gave me the name, 'Drawing to the Rock,' at that time. The vision was so strong and clear that I cried and began praising and thanking God right there in my car."

Now, a decade later, Jackson is captivating audiences across the country, both young and old, as he shares the hope of eternal salvation through faith in Christ using a series of six vignettes depicting mankind's sinful fall in the Garden of Eden and culminating with Christ's victorious resurrection from the dead.

During a quick-moving, hour-long presentation, Jackson creates six different drawings using various colors of chalk, including one vignette in which he uses a small knife-like instrument to carve from the canvas a picture of an empty tomb.

While Jackson is creating his works of art, each vignette is accompanied by recordings of biblical narratives and music by Christian artists such as Lincoln Brewster and Michael W. Smith.

As a left-handed artist, Jackson evokes a sense of mystery and suspense as he creates various portraits of the life of Christ and other biblical scenes by drawing and writing backwards on the canvas, going from right to left instead of the more traditional direction of left to right. The effect has audiences sitting on the edge of their seats in anticipation of each finished work.

At the end of every presentation, Jackson invites his audience to pray with him to receive Christ as their Lord and Savior. "Hundreds have raised their hands saying God as spoken to them in some way," he said.

While Jackson creates original drawings for each presentation, a lot of work goes into pre- and post-production as well. It takes Jackson and his wife, Twyla, who also serves as his light and sound technician, about six hours to erect the set, which includes a half-dozen 32-by-40-inch canvases as well as lighting and sound systems.

"Drawing to the Rock is a creative multimedia happening that combines audio and visual impression in a fresh way to present the gospel to an extremely media-minded culture," said John Yarbrough, vice president of evangelization with the North American Mission Board. "I can see this program being used in many different arenas to reach the lost and inspire the saved."

Jackson, 44, who also serves as NAMB's promotion design specialist, said he wants to honor God with his artistic gifts whether in designing NAMB's booths for state and national conventions or sharing the gospel through his chalk drawings or paintings of biblical characters and events.

He said he's always looking for creative ways to share the gospel in the often-abstract world of art as well as with other cultures. At a recent art exhibition hosted by his alma mater, Mississippi State University, Jackson contributed a painting of Lazarus wrapped in a burial head cloth, including the John 11:44 scriptural citation of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. For his painting of a white-hooded member of the Ku Klux Klan, Jackson included a reference to 1 John 3:15 condemning the sin of hatred.

"At the exhibition, I saw many people stand before the paintings and discuss them," Jackson said. "I saw many of them write the Scripture references down and that's what I had hoped would happen."

Last summer while on a mission trip in Rome, Italy, Jackson was able to use his artistry to share Christ with some Muslim refugees who spoke little English. "Two men approached me and asked me to draw them a 'little picture of Jesus,'" Jackson recounted. "Of course, I was more than willing. After I drew the pictures, they carefully placed the drawings in their backpack for their trip back to the streets. ... Who knows what might happen next?"

Jackson said he is looking forward to seeing how God continues to use Drawing to the Rock for his glory. "I've learned that God's plans for my talents are more special than anything I could ever imagine," he said. "I want God to take this ministry wherever he wants to take it."


For more information about "Drawing to the Rock" or to view some of Jackson's paintings and drawings of biblical characters and events, visit www.drawingtotherock.com or e-mail kerry@drawingtotherock.com. (BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: ROCK-SOLID WITNESS and ARTIST WITH GODLY AIMS.

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