The Gift of Hope Inspires the Gift of Art

Mario, The Mustard Seed’s Street Level Manager in Edmonton, interacts with community members, working with them to improve their lives. Below is his personal account story of a memorable encounter he had with a community member.

A few months ago, an older gentleman came into my office carrying a large plastic bag. He greeted me with a friendly smile, introduced himself, and asked if we would hang up his painting if he donated it to The Mustard Seed. I curiously asked to see the painting, explaining that I would need to take a look at it before I could give him an answer.

Out of his plastic bag, he pulled a beautiful painting. The bold colours, simple images and honest words were captivating. The sentiment and skill that went into the painting were evident and I already thought of the perfect spot to hang the artwork.

After a few moments of silent admiration, I asked what motivated him to create this painting and, more importantly, what motivated him to donate it to The Mustard Seed. Donating this painting, he explained, was his way of repaying what The Mustard Seed had given him.

He said he came to our church building one evening in search of a hot supper. He was greeted with a smile and a handshake from staff members, and he sat and ate with kind, friendly people and felt safe. This initial experience at The Mustard Seed encouraged him to keep coming back to our evening meal programs.

During one visit, a staff member was sitting with him and they were having a conversation about simple things when the topic of faith came up. The man’s faith had taken a back seat to worries of food and shelter, but this conversation made him think about it once again.

Today, he has a job, a home and renewed faith in Jesus Christ. And it all started with a hot supper and a conversation. He said he feels grateful for the kindness and support The Mustard Seed offered him to help him get back on his feet.

Needless to say, the painting was gratefully accepted and it hangs on the wall outside the food bank as a beautiful reminder of the great value of helping others.