Indiana cartoonist and AG minister proclaims message of hope through his illustrations.To some, the funny pages are the best part of the newspaper. For Assemblies of God minister Paul F. Gray of Carlisle, Indiana, his comic strip is a platform to present the gospel message by tickling readers’ funny bone.
Since 2002, Gray has drawn the faith-based cartoon “Shades of Gray” for the religious page of the Sullivan Daily Times in Indiana.
“I stay within a small sermonette format by proclaiming a message of hope and God's Word in each submission,” explains the 89-year-old Gray, noting that the newspaper has published about 600 of his cartoons.
People have stopped Gray and his wife, Karen, on the street, telling them how “Shades of Gray” has touched their lives.
“Many times the conversations with them would end up with Karen and me praying with them,” recalls Gray, whose cartoons have been published through the years in many publications, including the Pentecostal Evangel. “Even pastors have said that particular toons hit them between the eyes.”
After receiving his AG ministerial credentials in 1961, Gray pastored several churches in Ohio and Indiana. He retired from pastoring in 2015. Gray’s religious cartoons were featured in the Saturday Evening Post for 14 years until the 1970s.
Don Matolyak, an AG minister since 1986, has known Gray for more than 40 years. Matolyak’s wife, Sharon, is the daughter of Gray’s brother, Ray Gray, who taught him how to draw when he was just 3.
“Uncle Paul’s cartooning has always had a message in it, often a very powerful message,” says Matolyak, who serves as a field manager in the church ministry department of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. “Sometimes he would humorously point out things in church life that needed to change. He used the cartooning to bring an issue to light, but his humor softened the blow. He always lifted up the Lord Jesus and pointed people to Him.”
In the 1980s, Matolyak copied and pasted Gray’s cartoons into his church newsletter.
“Uncle Paul is one of my heroes who has loved the Lord with his whole being, loved his family, and has been a faithful pastor for many decades,” Matolyak declares.
Indiana District Superintendent Don Gifford has known Gray since the 1970s.
“Paul did cartooning all those years while pastoring and helping struggling churches,” he says. “He has remained faithful to the call of God in his life.”
Over the years, Gray has battled colon cancer, and even a crippling disease of his drawing hand, but he has never stopped drawing because he sees it as ministry. Despite his age, he has no plans to retire.
“The desire to see souls saved keeps me going,” says Gray. “Because Jesus burns His Word deep and the love for all to know Him as their Lord and Savior, it moves me forward. I'm not looking for laughs, but for changes in lives.”