(Photo: William H. Johnson Jr.)
An Oregon church was tagged with Satanist graffiti earlier this week, but instead of restoring the walls to their original appearance, students in the church's youth group covered the graffiti with a mural expressing their faith.
Samuel Wilson, the youth and worship pastor of New Vision Church in Beaverton, Ore., told The Christian Post that when he and other church workers arrived at their facility on Wednesday morning they discovered that two of the building's outside walls had been vandalized with spray paint. The vandals painted an upside-down cross – a symbol often associated with Satanism – on the front of the building and the number 666, which is identified in the Book of Revelation as the "number of the beast," on its side.
Wilson says after seeing the graffiti he planned to repaint the wall its normal shade of white, but he was forced to wait until the church could file a police report. While waiting, church workers came up with another idea.
"As we were thinking about it, we thought that it would be a really cool thing if we would be able to do some sort of a mural, or something that just kind of represented covering up hate with love, or doing something radical," said Wilson. "So we thought the way that Jesus responds to people was, most of the time, radical, and we thought, 'Well, how can we respond to something like this in a way where we would be able to share our faith with these people should they walk back by the building?'"
Wilson called a woman from the church who is an artist, as well as some students, to see if they could help with the mural. The woman created an outline of sorts for the students to work within, but they were otherwise free to paint whatever they wanted to.
"We just kind of let God lead each student, and also the artist," said Wilson.
The end result was a colorful mural that can be divided into themes such as "beauty for ashes," "waves of mercy," "faith on display" and others. At the top of the mural are painted the words "revolutionary love," based on the name of the youth group: Revolution. The image of a heart with a crown of thorns now covers the area where the 666 was once visible.
Wilson says the lesson his students took away from the experience will be one they will never forget.
"You can do positive things," he said. "Just because someone's coming at you with negativity doesn't mean that you have to be negative back…Just be positive. Just show them Jesus' love."
Another church about a mile away from New Vision was also vandalized with spray paint, KATU.com reported Thursday, though investigators weren't sure at the time if the two incidents were related.