Everyday Angel: Faith set in stone

Published: November 7, 2005 | 2630th good news item since 2003

JoAnne Streb is a woman who knows what it’s like to have her world shaken. She has lost a husband of 42 years, two children and her health.

But she also is a woman who knows about having a sure foundation, a rock on which to stand — or in her case, a rock on which to paint.

“I kept finding in the Bible all these references to ‘The Lord is my rock,'” Streb said, a dozen partially painted rocks in front of her. She noted the Bible’s story of how David used a stone to slay an enemy, Goliath. Plus, a rock can be used to connote a strong foundation in times of trouble, she said.

And now, rocks are a way for Streb to use her artistic talent to spread a message.

For the past 30 years, the former art teacher has painted “LORD IS MY ROCK” on a truckload of smooth stones that have been given away to foreign missionaries, friends and strangers at restaurants. Alpha and Omega Parable Christian Store in Henrietta also hands them out for free.

“My purse weighs a ton,” Streb said, as paints and brushes sat nearby, waiting for her to add her own style of lettering to the rocks. It’s a style that she designed herself, a pattern that is flexible enough to fill all the space she has to work with. And it doesn’t take too long for Streb to paint, even with her carpal tunnel problems. In an hour, she can finish 12.

“Every rock is a challenge, every surface is different,” said Streb, who quit her teaching job when she adopted her son. Other children followed, including two more sons and one daughter who are grown. One of the last projects she did with her junior high students involved painting on rocks.

Streb, who teaches Sunday School classes at Elim Gospel Church in Lima, can’t go on faraway mission trips. Her legs couldn’t carry her and her kidneys wouldn’t function without dialysis. But with the single Bible verse as her message, the rocks become a witness, she believes.

“It puts the word of God in front of them,” she said. “I can be useful, not useless.”

She started to hand a rock to a grocery store worker a while back and the worker said, “No thanks. I already have one. I got it about 15 years ago.”

Many people reject the Christian message, Streb said, “but for some reason, they accept the rocks.”

The rocks, which come from the shores of Lake Ontario, are useful, though, she points out. They can be used as paperweights.

Regardless of how people are using them, they move quickly from the Christian bookstore in Henrietta.

“If she brings in 100, they are gone in a week,” said Susan Gill, a store clerk. “People love them. Sometimes they’ll take three or four and say, ‘I’ll give this to my neighbor or to my grandmother.'”

And, in turn, people have left things for Streb — thank-you cards mainly.

“(The rocks) are a huge blessing,” Gill said. “They are in Bosnia, and I’ve sent them to family members in Michigan.”

Every once in a while, someone will ask Streb why she doesn’t sign her name to the rocks, like she does her other paintings and drawings.

Streb just laughs.

“They’re not mine.”

Published in Faith, Life
See also: www.democratandchronicle.com
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