A Muslim lady from the Middle East, who now lives in London, came to faith last year having encountered the living Jesus in a dream. On the very next day she happened to wander into All Souls – and was confronted by the painting we have of Christ at the sharp end (ie the front). She immediately recognized him as the person she had seen in her dream – and this was the trigger that led to her coming into a relationship of personal faith and trust in Jesus. There are clearly more details and steps along the way that i don’t know about but it just shows that the Lord can and use the most unexpected things!
For there are not many evangelical churches that have such a dominant painting at its sharp end. It raises controversy amongst some and people raise questions about it every now and then. I have to say that i am pretty uncomfortable in principle about classic-style portraits of Jesus simply because they too often pull us away from his universality – how many people in the world think of him as white, blond, blue-eyed and beautiful? Very unhelpful.
Still – it has come into its own in this account – and Alleluia for that!
Christ Crowned with Thorns by Richard Westall R.A. (1822-3)
The painting was most likely commissioned by King George IV and donated by ‘certain persons’ (?!) to the church. It was installed in time for the actual opening of John Nash‘s extraordinary building of All Souls Langham Place (at the top of Regent St) appropriately on All Souls Day (2nd November) 1824.
photo taken by Woojung