Kinder pastor uses talents to spread Christmas message
KINDER — After a six-year hiatus, the Rev. Jerry Long, pastor of Green Oak Bible Church in Kinder, is using his talents and the element of surprise to create a giant mural with hidden spiritual scenes as the backdrop for the church’s annual Christmas musical.
“I never thought I’d do another mural, but I felt like the Lord wanted me to do this,” Long said.
Long, who at age 77 has been ministering for 48 years, has drawn giant murals for Easter and Christmas musicals at churches in Louisiana, Alabama and Indiana for more than two decades.
He recently completed a 30-foot chalk mural that will be the backdrop for the Green Oak Bible Church choir’s upcoming holiday musical, “The First Christmas Carol.”
The program will be presented at 6 p.m. Dec. 15-16 at the church, 1544 Green Oak Road, off U.S. 165 north of Kinder. A dress rehearsal is also open to the public at 6 p.m. on Dec. 13. All performances are free.
“I just like coming up with the ideas for the mural because Christmas is much more than Santa Claus, gifts and all the commercialization,” he said. “I felt the Lord gave me a talent so why not use it for His glory?
“These days and times, Christmas is so commercialized,” he said. “Kids don’t know the truth about how He came, He died and He promised to come again.”
The brightly colored three-panel mural depicts a variety of Christmas and winter scenes. Several spiritually themed scenes, drawn with invisible chalk that can only be seen with a black light, bring the mural to life.
The murals originally started out as a 60-foot wide mural, but was downsized to a 55-foot-mural in the past and to 30-foot this year.
Sharing his artistic talents and experience is a labor of love for Long.
“I get the satisfaction of knowing the Lord gave me a talent and it’s this,” he said.
The backdrop will be accompanied by an 11-member choir that started preparing for the musical in August.
It takes Long about three months to work on the mural. He draws his base painting, usually a snowy city, countryside or lake scene, on a large piece of paper.
Once the basic scenes are done, it’s time to draw the invisible scenes including an image of Jesus and a flock of angels looking down below and a manger scene.
Special lighting is used to change the lighting on each section from fluorescent to black light to reveal the hidden pictures drawn with invisible chalk.
Long uses musical selections from the program and old Christmas cards to create the backdrop.
“But I always put Christ in the middle of the finale because he should be the center,” Long said.
And there is always a church and a U.S. flag. This year he added three churches to the scene.
Animals are always part of the scenery. This year he added a squirrel. Red cardinals are always part of the scene because he loves birds.
And there’s always snow, even in South Louisiana.
“It just doesn’t seem right without a snow scene,” he said.
This year he added a fence around the scene with green garland and red ribbons.
Long said the mural is his way of spreading the gospel and the true meaning of Christmas.
“I want people to know that Jesus did come and he’s going to come again as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords,” he said.
Long said more than 200 people attended the annual performance in the past, including area nursing homes.
Many people will come see the musical and drawing, but don’t attend church regularly, he said.
Others who have seen the surprise ending chalk murals as children often return to see it again as adults or with their own children.
Hidden scenes come to life under black light in a 30-foot chalk mural created by the Rev. Jerry Long for the Green Oak Bible Church’s Christmas musical, “The First Christmas Carol.”
Winter scenes will come to life with hidden spiritual scenes visible only under black light during the Green Oak Bible Church’s musical performance of “The First Christmas Carol,” Dec. 15-16. The 30-foot chalk mural was created by the church’s pastor, the Rev. Jerry Long.