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Filtered photo of a man playing with a child

Years ago, the phone rang and our younger son brought it to me saying, “Dad, there’s a man here who wants to speak to David Stickel.” I took it and said, “Well, you got’em. This is David Stickel.” He responded, “Ahh…but are you the right, David Stickel?” He explained that he had seen my photo and name many years earlier in a Louisiana Christian magazine. But a typo in the caption said I was from South Carolina, so he had not been able to locate me. In the photo my face isn’t seen because I’m looking down at a precious, little Kenyan girl. I said that it had to be me because I served with a Christian organization in Nairobi, Kenya, 1983-85. Sounding relieved, he said, “So it is you.” He continued, “Sir, I’ve been trying to find you for SO long — to thank you and tell you — that for NO other reason, the Lord had you with that little girl in that photo just for ME!” He told me: “I’ve been a pastor most of my life and that photo has been hanging in my office in the church so many years and now that I’m retired, it’s hanging in our living room.

I had never seen it before. In fact, I had no recollection of it at all. Nairobi was a hub of activity in Christian outreach, so folks coming thru was constant. I had no idea at all that photo was even out there.

Here’s why it meant so much to him: He and his wife had one daughter and when she was older, she was horribly violated by a man. She decided before God that she could NOT abort this innocent life. So, she gave birth to a beautiful little girl and raised her for several years. When this young mother met a young man who proposed marriage, to everyone’s shock he said he would have NOTHING to do with that little girl! So, the pastor and his wife raised the little girl as their own. Now she was grown and doing well. He reiterated, “Sir, if for NO other reason, the Lord had you and that little girl in that photo, just for ME!” The tenderness and love of our interaction — as she’s gazing up into my eyes — had deeply touched their hearts all those years.

As an artist — specifically a painter — I’m always depicting various images — however, this time, I was part of the imagery and artwork itself! What I take away is that we NEVER know how God is working and how He’s using our lives!

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