An Artist. A Vision

Joey’s love for art was etched in his heart. It would manifest itself in the artistic, fluid-like combinations he delivered when standing inside a boxing ring. While training under local legends Sammy Burke and Larry Reneo, Joey amassed a total of forty-seven sanctioned fights in six years, including four amateur state championship titles. From all those battles, there’s one fight in particular that reveals the depth of his courageous spirit.

In a memorable championship fight in Alamogordo, Joey was the underdog to local hometown hero, Shelton Compton. In the first round, a solid right hook dropped Joey to the canvas. “Get up, get up!” echoed his sisters scream through a dense fog. Joey lifted himself up, out of what felt like murky black quick sand, looked the referee in the eyes and pleaded, “Don’t stop the fight.”

Parched for relief, the bell only delivered a minute of fierce instructions from his coach, “Stay focused! Beat his body! Let your hands go!” With renewed determination, Joey confronted his treacherous foe. He struck his opponent’s body systematically; swaying the spectators to acknowledge that he was there to win. Punches were exchanged in battles and Joey stayed focused until his adversary went down and couldn’t get up for the count.

With success in the ring came a measure of invincibility. Joey’s focus shifted from boxing toward a degree in electronics and eventually the family life. Everything seemed to be fine except that there was an evil opponent clouding his vision. Joey’s will was soaked in alcohol and his days were lost in drug addiction. He wrestled these demons until the last strand holding his life together snapped, leaving him alone and emptier than ever before. Joey was free-falling into a bottomless pit at the center of his being.

This battle was being played out in a spiritual realm. God allowed Joey’s soul to get beaten, battered and bruised. He stood and watched like a referee, allowing the fight to continue. Once more Joey pushed on, round after round until he was lying face down on life’s canvas. There was ringing in his ears, mingled with the screams of his children, “Get up!” But the darkness was suffocating and he heard himself crying for God to stop the fight. When his delirium cleared, Joey wasn’t standing in a boxing ring; he was locked up in the state prison.

For the first time in his life, Joey was not in charge. He stood broken hearted inside of a prison cell. There were torn magazine pages wedged against the window and Joey pulled them off. His eyes were momentarily blinded by the beautiful snowscape outside. When he looked down at the tattered page in his hand, his eyes focused on four souls from Sumatra enraptured in delight, singing and praising God. Joey longed for that peace. That’s when a healing stream of hope poured in to his being and transformed the weathered fighter into an artist with a vision.

Joey’s focus once again shifted. This time he dedicated himself to producing testaments of God’s perfection. It was in the bottom of this void that Joey found a door that no man could shut; a passage just for him. Using cheap colored pencils Joey started drawing to make ends meet. He learned to layer colored pencils with ink to produce beautiful portraits. Eventually, with his meager resources, he found the courage to represent his visions from God with art.

A piece of art entitled Worship the Lord with Gladness was followed by a series called "Ransomed Art." He painstakingly works to compose art that affirms his bond with God. There is a gavel infused in several of his compositions. This gavel is a symbol burned in his mind and Joey contemplates on it often; he marvels at the path God chose-to get through to him. A real wooden gavel sits on Joey’s desk; it’s a prototype of an evangelical tool he hopes to produce one day. He calls it Evangegavel, it’s a unique way of presenting the gospel message that reinforces the truth of God’s love for humanity.

In Joey’s vision, his soul was moved through a labyrinth to another dimension. During this vision quest, Joey begins to understand that the benevolent referee in his life is a wise and perfect God. Joey wonders how many others are caught in their own prison; fighting their own demons. He hopes to inspire others to rise from their depth and stop being beaten. Once he surrendered his will to God, His arms were raised in victory. His treacherous foes lost their power; they are useless against a child of God. When things look bleak and you’re thinking of giving up hope, recite the words that Joey spoke that day in the ring: “Don’t stop the fight.”

Browse Joey’s art online at ransomedart.org.

Spring 2014
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