Larry Van Pelt (Father of HM Editor DVP) has written the book Flying Tales (HM Press). was prominent in HM Magazine’s early years, buying first laser printer. His unique “Jesus: With You Always” art website went viral a few years ago due to mockery/humorous websites posting links and pointing the way … to jesus.
How did you get started with the Jesus: With You Always drawings?
I was retired and had been asking the Lord for a vision of what I should be doing for Him (Be careful when you pray something like that!). I got woken up in the middle of the night, set straight up in bed, and could clearly see that I was to do some drawings – of people in everyday occupations, with one difference – Jesus in the background. My response was: “Lord, I have never done any drawing; never had any interest in drawing; and never had any training in drawing.” The response I got was: “You’ve got 10 years.” Well, when you think the Lord has told you to do something, it’s best to trust and proceed. That’s what I did.
How did you feel about the explosion of hits on the website?
Initially the website was being visited about two or three times a day (word-of-mouth spreading, I guess). When the website all of a sudden started getting 20,000, 30,000, even 40,000 hits per day, I was astounded. It had to be a God thing, because the website became very popular – worldwide. When that happened, if you googled “Jesus with you always” the website would show up as the first two out of many thousand possible website links. Many companies would’ve been very interested in how that could have happened – and wished that their websites could become so popular. I had no idea how to do that – it had to be a God thing.
What are your thoughts on how the website spread as a result of jokes/humor/mockery in some cases?
Interestingly, many scurrilous websites made fun of the “Jesus with you always” website – making fun of the images, and even adding their own derogatory captions. Initially I was very saddened – I didn’t like anybody making fun of my Lord. But then I realized they were actually expanding the interest in the “Jesus with you always” website. I heard from many people via e-mail that they had visited the questionable sites and then clicked on a link to my site where the Lord’s message, inherent in the images, touched their heart.
What has been the result of laminating and passing out the “Soldier Cards?”
Perhaps the most well-known “Jesus with you always” drawing has been the ‘soldier.’ I reduced the drawing in size and made it into a small wallet-size laminated card. The intent was to provide some encouragement to our wonderful soldiers serving us in Afghanistan and Iraq. It lets them know that they are never alone – the message comes through very clearly. Like I’ve always said, it’s the message that is important – not the image. Well, over 20,000 of those cards have been produced. The feedback has been most encouraging. Many soldiers I have encountered back here in the States have told me how they have carried one of the cards in their wallet for many, many months. Some of the comments I have received:
“That image of the Lord with us all the time provides more comfort than just about anything.”
“Several soldiers have already mentioned how much it means to have a visible reminder that Jesus is always with them.”
“I have probably given out some 200 cards by now. They are encouraging and helpful to my ministry over here. Soldiers, Marines, sailors, airmen and even some civilians are now carrying them on their person.”
What led to the book Flying Tales?
When some of my grandchildren showed an interest in my extensive flying background and asked me to tell them a story or two, the response was most encouraging – they implored me to put some of those stories down on paper. I decided I would give it a try, and began composing a short “flying tale” that I could send out via e-mail once a week. I enjoyed reliving my experiences on paper – renewing old acquaintances vicariously, chuckling as I remembered some upsetting incidents, discovering that I could remember many of the details. After two years of the weekly e-mails my family convinced me that a collection of them might make an interesting book. So, with a son who knew the publishing business and a daughter who could produce a website to market such a book and other family members willing to proof the written document – I proceeded.
I don’t think I have a favorite. However, as I progressed through this process I was very impressed by how God’s grace and mercy had intervened in many of my flying experiences – protecting me, guiding me, reassuring me that He has been “with me always.” I am most grateful.
One step at a time. One of my favorite Psalms prompts me to ask the Lord to “Cause me to know the way I should go, for I lift my soul up to You.”