NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP.
Gifted by God with the ability to express his feelings through visual art, Johnson Simon is changing the way the world sees artists. He is a 25 year old Haitian American warrior for Christ who was born with cerebral palsy. He took some time out of his busy schedule to sit down and talk to us.
How did you meet God?
Johnson: Well, I met God in vacation bible school. I grew up in church. I grew up knowing Who God Is, but I didn't truly commit. When I was at vacation bible school and I saw people that were my age sharing their testimonies and living for Jesus, I decided to commit my life to Christ. I was around that age when I had to make my own decisions to either Obey or rebel. My mom took me to church but I had the choice to make . Everything I overcame I couldn’t do it on my own. It had to be Christ. I had a new feeling. I had a sense of confidence, because before that I wasn't too comfortable with who I was. Being born with a handicap, I was always teased. I became more confident. I understood who I am as a person and what was my purpose in being alive. God is good.
What is your purpose?
Johnson: My purpose is to show people that no matter what kind of obstacles you face, you can still shine for Christ. You can still succeed. Don’t let your circumstances become your downfall.
What is your creative process?
Johnson: It all depends on what type of work I'm doing. If it's a commission, I don't have my own process, because I have to do what is asked. When I create my own paintings, I usually tell God, here I am. I'm just your paintbrush. Use me as Your instrument to shine for You.
What mediums do you paint with?
I enjoy oil, acrylic and chalk pastels. My favorite is oil, because it allows me to retouch it.
What was your biggest challenge in school?
The hardest part of having cerebral palsy in school, being separated from the group because of my disability. They put me in a group that I didn’t belong in and I’m way smarter than that. There was always something that I needed to prove. No matter what I did it wasn’t good enough.
Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."
Who is your favorite Artist?
My favorite artist is Michael Robert Tishler (R.I.P.). He was a mentor to me and a father figure. be honest, growing up in a single parent home all we had was my mom. if me and my brother didn’t have our mentor to push us to do more. To give us confidence. He is truly a blessing from God. He is truly a blessing from God.
How are you living out your purpose?
I’m currently mentoring two people. It’s crazy because, working with kids this summer, I was terrified because of the childhood that I had being mocked. It was so powerful because they were so receptive to me. My mission is to remind people that God can still use them no matter what they’ve been through.
Do you still have something to prove?
When I get that diploma. I’ll be finished then.
Johnson is currently a student at Western Michigan. He’ll be receiving his B.F.A or Bachelors in Fine Arts this December. Next fall he will be pursuing his master’s degree in Art Therapy. That’s not too bad for a guy who was told by professionals that he wouldn’t graduate high school.