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Hobby Morphs into Ministry

Chaplain finds fellow artists open up when they are in her classes.
Fridays, as most people are winding down for the weekend, Virginia “Jenny” Young, of Decatur, Alabama, is gearing up for a weekend full of ministry through art.

Young is an endorsed chaplain with U.S. Missions Chaplaincy Ministries who works with an organization called Marketplace Chaplains. Formerly serving as a tent maker missionary in Namibia and a youth minister, Young has thrived in a variety of chaplaincy opportunities in places such as hotels, airports, a car dealership, and even a chicken hatchery.

Although she began painting in high school, Young says that as her family grew and ministry blossomed, she lost touch with an outlet she had once loved. To relieve work stress, her husband, Ron, suggested she re-engage in her art. As she began relearning the craft, she sensed the Lord telling her He had yet another out-of-the-ordinary ministry assignment for her.

Young obtained her art teacher certification at the Bob Ross Instructional Campus in Smyrna Beach, Florida, and reached out to a local Hobby Lobby for space to hold her first oil painting class.

“It very quickly turned from a hobby to a ministry,” Young says. “Painting helps people open up and share their struggles, and I get to be there to minister to them in their hurt.”

In only six months, Young saw the need to add a second class in another spot. From there, Young’s classes continued to grow until she had spread to five various locations, the farthest 90 miles from her residence. Young believes God is helping her build relationships.

“Many teachers are struggling to fill their classes and I am struggling to fit people in,” she says.

Despite the enormous time investment of teaching five classes every weekend, Young considers it time well spent.

“God is giving me the chance to reach people who would never normally be in church,” she says.

Young, 60, says she has had the opportunity to share her faith and has seen numerous people accept the Lord. That includes counseling a recent widower grappling with the loss of his wife.

Another student, Marie White, also appreciates Young.

“She not only helped me refine my skills, she got to know me as a person,” White says. “She is a genuine person with true God-given talents.”

Young’s husband, who works a tech job during the week, tags along on weekends to help her set up and tear down — and to minister as well.

“I love that we get to do this together,” she says. “Because my class has a good balance of males and females, he can connect with the men and I can connect with the women.”

Recently, Young received recognition for her work when CBS purchased one of her paintings to use as a prop in an upcoming Magnum P.I. episode.

Ashley B. Grant

Ashley B. Grant has a master's degree in Human Services Marriage and Family Counseling from Liberty University and is a credentialed Christian counselor through the American Association of Christian Counselors. Grant also holds certifications in crisis pregnancy counseling and advanced life coaching. Ashley is a fourth generation Assemblies of God preacher’s kid and has one daughter and three sons.