|After speaking at large festivals and conferences for more than thirty years, I can attesta million times overthat God sweats the details. In the following story a man needed a practical miracle to use his God-given gifts. Guess what? God knew what he needed, when he needed it.
"Ralph" was a cartoon character anti-hero who poked fun at the school administration and tweaked Establishment nosesperfect for the mid-1970s at the University of Nebraska, where Ron Wheeler had convinced the student newspaper to publish his first comic strip.
Fellow students told Ron there was a lot of truth in his cartoons, but deep down he wondered if they were right. He decided to set off on a course to find out "What Really Matters." He scaled mountain peaks, jumped out of airplanes, and attended MindDynamics seminars. He purchased a hot sports car and found willing women to fill the passenger seat.
None of these pursuits satisfied his hunger for truth.
Ron had wrapped his persona into being a cartoonist, which was a tough way to make a living. After years of rejection, he discovered what he was missing was Jesus Christnot his own syndicated Sunday newspaper comic strip.
Hearing a presentation of the Christian message to make peace with God using the bridge of Jesus Christ, Ron trusted Christ as his Savior, and began reading the Bible. When he fathomed that his pride and selfishness had kept him from experiencing Gods love, he stopped trying so hard to become a cartoonist. In fact, he was willing to give up the dream altogether.
"Coincidentally," the very next day, Ron got his first full-time job, drawing cartoons for a slide show production company right across the street from his apartment.
Ron is now a free-lance cartoonist. One of his first clients was the American Tract Society, which in the early 1980s found his humor in comic-like tracts effective. Tracts are small booklets that are handed out to people to explain something about the Christian faith when a long conversation isnt possible. People will read tracts, especially tracts with cartoons in them when they wont take time to read anything else.
After several years, however, the ministry had a change of leadership, and Rons tract work abruptly halted. He shrugged and returned to the drawing board. Though his job changed, one thing never changed over the years for Ron: tight finances. When he later began creating CDs containing his cartoons in a clip art format, this entrepreneurial effort stretched him to his financial limits.
Then his balky computer, which Ron uses to manipulate images and even "draw," began showing signs of permanently crashing. Rons three-year-old Macintosh operated behind the curve: the processing speed was too slow and the hard drive storage unable to meet the demands placed on it.
With a huge poster assignment deadline looming on the horizon, Ron wondered if he should charge a new computer on his Visa card and worry about paying for it later. If he decided the pull the trigger, Ron figured he needed to buy an Apple Macintosh G3 with 266 MHz and a 6 gigabyte hard drive.
Ron began to pray about the situation. Two weeks later, he got a call from Rob Moritz, whose one-man acting ministry as "the apostle Paul" takes him around the country reciting the apostles New Testament writings.
"Did I tell you I have a new Apple computer?" Rob asked out of the blue.
"Yeah, do you want to give it to me?" Ron joked.
"As a matter of fact I do."
"No, you cant be serious."
"But I am."
"Whats it got on it?"
"Its a G3 with 266 MHz and a 6 gig hard drive."
Ron looked down the MacWarehouse mail-order catalog. The same model was staring him in the face.
"No, let me buy it from you."
"I insist on giving it to you. We dont need it anymore, and I know you can put it to good use," Rob said.
Ron drove to his house to pick up the computer. "There it is," Rob said with a sweep of his hand. "You know something? Youre going to be amazed when you get to heaven and see how many people who were helped in their salvation because of the cartooning gift God has given you."
"Im overwhelmed, Rob, but I havent done any gospel tracts in years."
Shortly after setting up the new Mac at his home office, Ron took a call from the American Tract Society. With the new leadership in place, they told Ron they were ready to revise and update their cartoon tract line. Could he revise or create eleven new tracts in two months?
"I sure can," he replied. He had never been asked to do more than four tracts in a year, but with his new computer the assignment was doable.
Then a new client called. Good New Publishers wanted Ron to create five more gospel tracts. God clearly had a plan and his own timetable for getting the message out.
Ron has nearly fifty cartoon gospel tracts in print, and more than thirty-five million have been handed out all over the world. To learn more about Rons cartooning, visit his Web site at www.cartoonworks.com.
"Whatever is good and perfect comes to us from God above, who created all heavens lights. Unlike them, he never changes or casts shifting shadows. In his goodness he chose to make us his own children by giving us his true word" (James 1:17-18).