Those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.
Isaiah wrote these words many centuries ago. They refer to the suffering his beloved Israel was experiencing at the hands of neighboring countries that invaded and conquered them. The intent was to acknowledge the tough times and to bring hope to a people who had many reasons to despair.
I heard the Hanson family speak at a Stewardship Conference a year ago. They had many reasons to despair. Dr. Hal and Julie Hanson and son Jeffrey lived a happy and average life in Kansas until Jeffrey was around twelve years old. That is when he started bumping into things. The reason turned out to be an incurable genetic condition that eventually left Jeffrey legally blind.
Blind, perhaps, but not without hope. He could still see shapes and colors. It turned out Jeffrey is also a gifted artist. The Hanson’s decided they would focus on the things Jeffrey could still do rather than the things he could no longer do. First things first. They needed to redo his bedroom at home so it was easier for him to navigate with his failing eyesight. One item Jeffrey really wanted was a soft, black, Italian leather recliner. In order to help defray the cost of this, the family had a garage sale to let go of some of the things young Jeffrey would no longer be able to use.
During the sale Jeffrey painted a series of brightly colored postcards to give to those who stopped by as a thank you for their support. One of their neighbors was so impressed with what the family was doing that he went to the store and bought the chair for Jeffrey.
Jeffrey then gave the profits from the garage sale away to charity. Soon he was being commissioned to do artwork to raise money for charity. Jeffrey kept painting. The family garage and basement became his art studio. He kept giving away the money he raised from his artwork. His goal was to give away $1 Million before his 20th birthday. He reached that goal when he was 19.
Now, two years later, he’s hit $2 Million in donations to over 100 charities and he’s still painting and giving. His father recently retired from his work as an Emergency Room physician to join Julie as employees of Jeffrey’s art business. Just last weekend (March 5) Jeffrey’s artwork raised $56,000 for the Team Jack Foundation, which supports pediatric brain cancer research. Through Live Charity Auctions Jeffrey’s artwork is raising money for charity all across the country. One of his paintings is hanging in the home of Warren Buffett.
This week Mom Julie shipped two more of Jeffrey’s large paintings to Houston. You can read more about this remarkable young man and his parents at www.JeffreyOwenHanson.com or read the story of how he got started in the book authored by his father: Lessons From CLOD. CLOD was the name the family gave to the tumor causing the visual impairment. CLOD threatened a great darkness on the Hanson family. But the Hansons refused to cooperate with that plan. Instead they have been a source of light and hope to thousands through Jeffrey’s bright artwork.