There is a tired old joke in church circles that goes like this:
“Watch out what you pray for, because God just may give it to you!” The idea is that God, like a genie in a fairy tale, enjoys a little flimflam.
But not all people see God in this light, and Shawna Wright, a Milton-Freewater, OR, watercolor artist, is one of them. Seven years ago, when she uttered a deeply heartfelt prayer:
“God, please give me something to do for You,” she didn’t know what the answer would be, but she knew it wouldn’t be bad, or wrong, or painful, or unpleasantly undesirable. She knew that it would be, like God, good. And it came about, slowly but determinedly, like this:
God Listened and Answered
For more than a year, she had been sending journal pages with Bible promises on them to her father — 1200 miles away — who was discouraged and in pain because of an accident. On his birthday, with the idea of making the page extra special, she painted a bird.
“My family and I were surprised at how well it turned out, and I knew in my heart something special had happened.”
That something special grew into a fast-track project (“I never do anything moderately; it’s either all or nothing!”) of Wright painting 11 more birds, with the idea of creating a calendar with images embellished by Bible verses. Those calendars took off like an eagle diving for a fish, and Wright has been so busy looking forward, that she hasn’t looked back.
“A ministry was born,” Wright says. “It is wrapped around the theme of Bible promises and that God can be trusted.
“The motto on my website is, ‘Encouraging people to take God at His word and equipping them with tools to encourage others.”
In addition to the calendars, which require 12 original paintings with verses each year, Wright has added note cards (God Tweets), bookmarks, refrigerator magnets, spiral journals, and art prints to her collection, and has sold her work throughout the U.S, as well as Norway, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, Uganda, and South Africa. Digitally, her art goes around the world daily, and Wright has been interviewed on many platforms where her story has been told and her art shared. Most recently, TCB Entertainment Network invited her to turn her devotional/blogs into a radio show, “Secure Under His Wings.”
Comfort from God
But while business success is exciting, Wright finds the ministry element more exciting still. And what makes Wright especially happy is when she is able to support other ministries by giving her work to them, so that they can pass it on to others.
“My cards, bookmarks, etc. are things I would have purchased in the past and given to those who needed encouragement,” Wright says. “Now I have the ability to make my own ‘tools’ of encouragement, and can afford to give much much more away than I would have ever dreamed of doing before. It is fun to support various ministries across the nation this way.
“Thousands of note cards have gone to both men and women’s prisons, women’s shelters, addict recovery centers, food banks, first responders, and places devastated by natural disasters.
“Bible promises comfort those who are hurting in a way that nothing else can.”
Encouragement to the Encourager
Nearly every day, Wright receives a note or email telling her how her art has encouraged the recipient or viewer. At one shelter for women in recovery, a young girl had trouble sleeping in a room by herself because of anxiety from her past. Her counselor put in a print of Psalm 4:8 — In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for you, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
“It is gratifying to hear how God uses a Bible promise to encourage or comfort someone at just the right time.”
With expanding reach comes more work, Wright says, and she has hired someone to look after her bimonthly newsletter and website, as well as someone to deliver packages to the post office. A team of local volunteers helps assemble bookmarks and package cards. It is an impressive, and continuing, answer to Wright’s prayer.
“Little did I know when God inspired my prayer, ‘Lord, give me something to do for you,’ that the answer would be so big and far reaching,” Wright says.
“There is no better joy than being used as a messenger of comfort to a hurting world.
“To God by the glory!”
Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday through Thursday, 9-4 Fridays, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.