Elaina Parks was sitting at her window sketching the three year boy playing with an old toy truck. He was pale, with the hollowed out cheeks of a child who didn’t get enough to eat. A thin, pretty girl with long dark hair sat on the porch with him. She looked completely lost.
Elaina was an accomplished Christian artist, and had purposely moved into the low income neighborhood to capture the poverty of the city in her work. Her friends told her she was insane, but although she was a little out of place, she felt compelled to be there.
As Elaina finished her sketch, God spoke to her.
The girl wants to be saved. Help her!
Start off with food, and then follow my lead.
Elaina went and bought meats, vegetables, fruits, cereal, milk, bread, peanut butter and jelly. She slipped a pamphlet describing the love of Christ into one of the bags and took them next door and knocked. The girl warily halfway opened the door.
“I’m Elaina Parks, your new neighbor, and I’ve brought a few things you might like. What is your name, dear? I don’t know anyone around here yet.”
The girl stared at her, took the bags without saying a word, and closed the door in her face. Elaina was dumbfounded.
Later that evening, as Elaina was preparing a frozen tin of spaghetti for herself; there was a timid knock at the door. She opened it to find her young neighbor and the little boy standing there. The girl was in tears.
‘Does God really love me?’
“Yes, He really does, dear.”
“My name is Gracie, and this is my son, Ethan. I came to thank you for the food and apologize for the way I reacted today. I don’t trust easily. I wonder if I might talk to you.”
As Ethan sat happily eating Elaina‘s dinner, Gracie spoke quietly about her life of abuse, running away from home at age fifteen and becoming pregnant. Ethan’s father had recently left for good and she had no job skills. Elaina listened with empathy and couldn’t help but notice the girl’s natural grace and intelligence.
“I found the pamphlet you left and remembered Jesus from Bible school, so I prayed to Him for an answer.” At that point she noticed Elaina’s easel and her eyes lit up. “Do you paint?”
“Some, but mostly I sketch,”
“I painted a lot in school. My teacher said I was a natural, but I didn’t think so. I just loved to paint.”
An idea popped into Elaina‘s head. She left the room and returned with an easel, art supplies, and some beautiful frames.
“I never use these Gracie, take them and paint!”
Gracie smiled for the first time. After she and Ethan left, Elaina had a feeling something good was going to come from this. There is something different about this girl. She might very well be an artist.
Two weeks later Gracie showed Elaina her painting. It was of an old house that was dark and foreboding, and Elaina was blown away. I’ve never seen raw talent this good!
“Gracie, you’ve quite a gift! I’m giving a showing of my drawings soon. If you can manage to get another painting or two done, I would love to show them as well!”
Three weeks later Gracie had two more paintings to show. One was of Ethan staring in awe at an angel. The other was a stunning self portrait of Gracie wearing a beautiful white gown and silver cross pendant. There was a single tear drop on her cheek, and her eyes were turned toward a blue heaven.
Art buyers went crazy over her paintings and wanted more. Gracie was soon supporting herself and Ethan doing the very thing she loved. Her artwork always reflected her faith in God, and she was happier than she had ever been.
On her nineteenth birthday Gracie officially became known as Grace Bellas and appeared at her very own art showing wearing a white gown and silver cross. She had arrived!
The next morning Elaina heard a familiar rap at the door. As she opened it Ethan ran straight into her arms, and Grace came bouncing in with two bags of food.
“Thank you for all you have done for us!” Grace smiled and hugged her.
“I didn’t do anything dear; God did.”
That night during her prayers, Elaina asked, well, did I follow your lead?
Very well, Elaina, very well indeed!
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