KODIAK — Even when enshrouded in fog, Kodiak inspired visiting Church of Christ pastor and teacher, Jerry Tallman, to take his easel, paints and sandpaper to capture local sights on canvas.
Tallman, who, with his wife, Connie, was in Kodiak during most of the month of June, said he prefers the “plein air” method of painting which is based on primary outdoor scenes rather than photographs.
His “canvas” is 600-grade sandpaper. He uses pastel, a crayon made of powdered pigments bound with gum or resin. “You can rub it with your finger and get any texture you want,” Tallman said. “It has the appearance of an oil painting when you’re finished.”
While on Kodiak Tallman painted scenes of houses, pets, people and natural settings. “You can’t help but be inspired when you’re here. The freshness of the air, the mountains, the water are absolutely beautiful.”
Tallman, a painter for 30 years, said a member of a non-denominational Bible study in Rochester, Michigan encouraged him to take an art class.
“I was toying around with that idea ever since I was a kid.” The method of painting with pastels and sandpaper pleased him because he loves to paint fast from life scenes.
Tallman does architectural type painting for a gallery on Mackinaw Island which is about 40 minutes from the Tallmans’ home in Petoskey, Mich.
The Tallmans were in Kodiak to teach biblical principles and evangelism to the Church of Christ congregation, which has been without a pastor for almost a year.
Tallman, an enthusiastic emissary for Jesus Christ, does not allow doctrinal differences to get in the way of fellowshipping and working with Christians in other denominations.
Before entering the ministry, Tallman was in the engineering business for 11 years, designing robotics for automobile companies. He got “tricked” into teaching a high school Bible class in a Church of Christ church.
“One of the leaders asked me to see how excited the teens were on a Wednesday night Bible class,” he recalled. When Tallman returned to observe the class a week later, the leader never showed up. “From that time on it was my Bible class and by the time I was 30, the teens convinced me that I had to be preaching and teaching.”
Going into the ministry was a “mutual decision,” said Connie. “We decided together that he should do that.”
After attending the Sunset Bible School in Lubbock, Texas, Tallman served as pastor in two Michigan congregations at different times. He developed a simple method of leading Bible studies and evangelism which are explained in his book, His Eternal Plan: Becoming a New Testament Christian.
“The book brings many passages together of who God is, how we can know for sure there is a God, how we can be certain that the Bible is His word and know for sure that Jesus Christ is … the Son of God. Once (seekers) have an understanding, it’s time to talk about their relationship with Him.
“If you have conversations with people every day, you can bring up something of a spiritual nature to see if there is any interest. They’ll usually ask questions, or you can ask them” and direct them to the Bible.
Tallman found that sharing the Gospel with people one-on-one and helping them find answers to their questions in the Bible was even more exciting than preaching from a pulpit. “You get more response, more people coming to Christ, because you share the Good News with them and help them find answers to their questions.”
With a keen desire to help congregations around the country share their faith, Tallman left the parish ministry in order to “encourage other churches and help them be more evangelistic,” he said. “Most churches across America (regardless of denomination) are aging and growing smaller. They haven’t planned it being their responsibility to find another way of simply telling the Good News to another generation of people.”
Tallman also taught at a preacher/missionary training school and traveled to various countries around the world.
The Tallmans lived in a motor home for 10 years. “Two years ago it broke down so we bought a condo in Florida and a little apartment in an RV park in Michigan. We work out of both places, working with churches.
“It’s been fabulous, meeting wonderful people all over the country,” said Tallman, who is 74. “It’s been an absolutely fabulous adventure. When you become passionate about what Jesus has done for you, you can’t stop talking about it. You never get too old to talk.”
“He’s as passionate now as he was when he first became a Christian,” Connie said.
While in Kodiak, the Tallmans encouraged the Church of Christ members to get out and share the Good News about Jesus with more people, he said. “Every Christian’s privilege is to be God’s messenger and tell them about Jesus Christ and what he’s done for them.”
Richard Lantz, a layman at the Kodiak Church of Christ, said that being taught by the Tallmans made him and his fellow members realize “that we need to learn to be evangelists ourselves.”
“You don’t have to be afraid to tell people the Good News, especially when it is the best,” said Tallman. “God loves them and wants them to be with Him forever.”
The Tallmans and Lantz invited people to come to the church for Bible studies, teaching and evangelistic messages. The response, even by those who declined, was very good, said Tallman. “If they’re not interested, you leave as friends and continue to pray for them.”
The Tallmans plan to come back to Kodiak soon. Hopefully by this fall, said Lantz.
There is much to draw them back.
“This is such a friendly island,” Tallman said. “We found it to be delightful. It’s absolutely gorgeous and perfect for painting. I painted nine pictures while here.”
Connie was enchanted by “the beauty of place and the people. They were beautiful, kind, generous, happy people. I’ve never met a group of people … that are so friendly. I did not meet anybody who was unkind or mean, or selfish,” she said.