[World, April 20, 1996]
Howard Finster’s fame has spread far beyond American shores. The day of this interview found a Japanese camera crew double-booked for the same time slot (“We’ve been planning this for months,” the only English-speaking crew member said, apologetically). This brings something else to Finster’s mind, and he asks the girl at the cash register when the people from a London magazine are coming. “They should put it on the TV news,” he observes. “They could make a little film of it.”
According to the American Visionary Arts Museum, Howard Finster is the most widely-exhibited living American artist. His paintings have been shown at the Smithsonian Museum, the Library of Congress, at museums around the country and around the world. Works have been commissioned by Coca-Cola, Disneyland, Time, MTV, and rock groups Talking Heads and R.E.M.; Finster has appeared on the Tonight show and in Rolling Stone. By any earthly standard, he’s a roaring success, and utterly beloved by what he calls his “fans.” Not bad for a Georgia country preacher.
Though Finster is well-known among art sophisticates, he’s often unknown among the evangelical Christians who share his fervent faith. The youngest of 13 children, he left school after the 6th grade, then “heard the call” and began preaching at the age of 16. For the next forty years he preached in churches and revival tents across the Southeast, supporting his growing family with a ragtag assortment of trades, from furniture building to farming to bicycle repair.
From the age of three he was prone to “visions” and “messages,” so it was not out of the ordinary when, in 1970, he heard a command to “build a paradise and decorate it with the Bible.” He bought a few marshy acres in Pennville, Georgia, 80 miles north of Atlanta, and began to fill it in. At first there were just a few concrete items, and Bible texts painted on hardboard. But in 1976 came a second call. While Finster was repairing a bicycle, a smudge of white paint on his finger developed a face and spoke to him: “Paint sacred art!”
Finster says he protested: “‘I can’t. Professionals can, but not me.’ The next thing it said to me, ‘How do you know?’ and it just dawned on me, how do I know?”
Soon his vividly-colored apocalyptic works, filled with angels and scriptures and admonitions to repent, were being nailed to every building and tree in the garden. And not long after that, they were being pulled down and lovingly crated for shipment to admiring purchasers Up Nawth. Sour, unhappy contemporary art only carries the viewer so far; Finster’s freshness, conviction, and clarity were a bracing tonic for a jaded world.
Whether that world was actually getting the message is less certain. For example, the centerpiece of a 1990 exhibition at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art was Finster’s portrait of art collector Herbert Waide Hemphill. On the painting Finster inscribed a typical message:
“He That Believeth Not Shall Be Damned.
Not A Crown But Hellfire And Brimstone.
If You Only Had One Sweet Son
And You Gave His Life To Save
Ten Wicked Men. And And They
Returned And Denied That You
Gave Your Only Son For Them
And Said You Child Never Exist
No One Died For Us. Please Go
Right Now And Call You Child To
You And Measure You Love For Him
And Turn And Look At The Most
Sinful Man You Know And
Think If You Would Trade Your
Presus Son For Him. God Is Love.”
Next to the painting the exhibit’s curators had set a plaque to explain the work’s meaning: “The historical, popular, and biblical subjects of Finster’s portraits embody his concept of the inventor as someone whose creative process will provide the world’s salvation.”
Finster, aged, arthritic and diabetic, shuffles into the humble frame building at the entrance to Paradise Gardens. Though his activities are limited, and he even paints from his bed now, he makes an appearance every Sunday for reporters and “fans.” His navy blue business suit of knit polyester glints in the Georgia sun; the pants cuffs had been rolled up over white socks and shiny wingtips, exposing previous hemwork done with pinking shears. Unbuttoned shirtcuffs are bunched in his coatsleeves. His tie, a print of his own design, is inscribed with the message, “Your on my mind.”
He sits down and, fishing a plywood cutout painting from an oversized plastic Coke bag, begins inscribing a “message” on the back with a laundry marker. Finster never stops working; it took constant work at many trades to support his family all those years, and he doesn’t know how to stop now. He’s concerned, though, about the appearance of laboring on the Sabbath, and explains that he spends Sunday writing messages on the backs of his paintings, just as he used to bring a Sunday message as a preacher.
The old man bends over his work. The demands of age and health, and the peculiar demands of fame, are taking their toll on him and on the garden. Five years ago, the garden was blooming with artworks; now it looks neglected and shabby, the arresting, urgent pieces (on an oil drum lid nailed to a tree: “Dying daily is a greator sacrifice than dying dead”) either gone to someone’s penthouse or rusted and rotted to unreadability. Random strings of colored plastic tubes clack in the wind, broken and faded. Finster once boasted that he’d never charged a penny to garden visitors; now a girl in a pink tank top and nine silver fake fingernails collects $5.00 from Sunday visitors to the fenced and padlocked compound. (Such precautions are excusable; much of the garden has been plundered over the years by unscrupulous souvenir hunters.)
The art itself has changed. In the little sales room on the garden grounds, the price of paintings is twice what it was five years ago, but the quality has slid down, the freshness replaced by formula. Empty paint cans, bottles, even a floodlight bulb, are daubed over with his repetitive trademark angels, and hung with pricetags from $50-150. Another room is filled with art by Finster relations, tracking consciously in the same housepaint-angel style.
Yet Finster is no huckster; he gives the impression of a sincere, guileless man working hard to accomplish the work he believes God has given him, working harder probably than his health should be made to bear. In the name of efficiency he’s distilled his product and streamlined the process, paying relatives to prepare the plywood boards, then laboring late into the night to put out thousands of works every year (every one has been numbered; the one he’s working on as we talk is #38,824).
Interviews from years past describe an audience with Finster as a fiery, non-stop sermonizer (in 1992 a Washington Post reporter describes him “…preaching to a bemused visitor who’d asked a simple question about 25 minutes ago and now has forgotten what it was”). Now he’s more subdued, and somewhat hesitant to voice the message on which he honed his eloquence for decades. He’s more comfortable talking about himself: his fame, his fans, and his continuing visions (that America and Russia unite as a superpower to police the world; that a use is discovered for nuclear waste). It takes several invitations before he opens up with his original message—the one he preached and painted most of his life, till fame compelled him to make his way in more sophisticated settings. Finster never learned the gloss of sophistication, but he has learned to avoid giving offense.
Finster sits in an old chair in the busy room where his paintings hang for sale. Reporters are welcome to sit on the floor—there is no other chair—and must work around constant interruptions from fans seeking autographs. These visitors feel palpable affection for Finster; they look at him with the awed and grateful expression kids reserve for a department-store Santa. He takes it with humility, kindness, and patience. His hands tremble as he signs autographs, consistently mishearing and misspelling fans’ names, but no one minds. He pauses while signing a poster to explain matter-of-factly why anyone writing a book about contemporary art wants his work in it.
Howard Finster: My name’s what counts. Somebody does a book and they put Finster on it, it’ll give ‘em 50% more sales.
FMG: Why do people like your work so much?
HF: Several different reasons. I do messages, for the spiritual people that believes in my messages, to try to help people to take care of the world, get it back in shape, I do messages on peace among men, I done a big message on world-come-together, I been preaching on things like that for several years.
FMG: When you first started doing this work, your main message was to bring people to salvation, to call them to repentance. Have you gotten away from that message over the years?
HF: Well, you’ve got to recognize all the people’s religions and all the people’s faith, and you’re not to offend other people because they don’t believe like you believe. If you’ve got an enemy and they’re not for you, you’re supposed to treat ‘em nice and do good for ‘em. That’s why it says, pray for them that despitefully use you, and all of that, you know. We have many religions here in the United States, and they’re all welcome to my garden and my stories and everything. I don’t believe in being a respecter of persons.
FMG: When you started out as a preacher, you preached that Jesus was the only way to salvation…
HF: Yeah, well, a lot of people don’t believe things like what happened to me. God called me into the minister work. I got crowds of mixed-up people in my tent meetings, Catholics, Methodists, Church of God, all kinds. How I got started with this work, I pastored churches for close to forty years, and I thought I’d run a survey one day on the members of my church. I asked them in the night service what I’d preached on in the morning service, and they wasn’t anybody there that remembered that. And I said to myself, they’re not paying much attention to me, what am I gonna do? Lord, I want to preach all over the world and reach more people. Then God called me unto sacred art, got to putting messages on it.
I had a little experience a year ago with the biggest network in the world, and that was MTV in New York. And I done them a $15,000 painting, and they wanted me to do a painting on the space world, and I done that. I had a town up there in space, I had the garbage man space craft, and police missiles, and the White House missile, and I done some writing about it and I wanted to tell ‘em that the television wave that sparkles over the whole painting represents the [broad]cast wave. I said, ‘This cast wave that youall put out is more like an image of God.’ Back when I was a kid I thought, how could God hear all these folks from New York and at the same time hear you? That was before TV was ever invented. I wanted to tell ‘em the TV cast was an image of God that was everywhere. That’s what God is, God’s everywhere there’s that cast.
On the back of that painting I done a special painting for free, I didn’t charge ‘em nothing for it. It told what the prophet said was gonna come to pass, and it’s now coming to pass. Like the prophecy that a whirlwind will come up in the last days from the coast of the earth, that was the one that come up from Florida, there! That’s a prophecy fulfilling. And another one, in the last days a grievous sore shall come upon ‘em. I put on there, it’s AIDS and radiation and all them things, it’s on us right now fulfilling, while I’m here, that’s the reason God sent me here in the ‘90’s. I been studying the prophets fifty years, and I’m laying there in my bed with a TV screen watchin’ it all fulfill. Another one says, in the last days they shall be lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God, you can look on the TV one time, you can see that.
FMG: Yet some people would say that MTV is one of the things on TV that promotes the love of pleasure.
HF: I’m not condemning pleasure, I like pleasure myself, I like to go to a ball game sometime and see my grandson play. I got nothing against pleasures. But he said, they would be more lovers of that than they would of God. Well, go around and look at the churches, and then look at the ball fields and all of that, and you see the Bible is fulfilling.
FMG: What would you say is your message to the world?
HF: My message is, I am as a red light of God in this world. I was sent here to give my visions, and I have many of them.
FMG: If you believe the end times are coming, how do you think people should respond to that?
HF: Be ready! That’s all I tell ‘em!
FMG: How do you get ready?
HF: Jesus Christ come here and he was crucified as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. The Bhuddists still practice that, but they use cows and blood and animals and things. We use Christ, that’s the only difference. They’re just as sincere about their offering as we are, but they don’t offer nothing to Christ for saving ‘em, they offer it to their own gods.
FMG: So, can their own gods save them?
HF: No, they don’t realize that, and it’s hard to get ‘em to understand that because they was raised up that-a-way. Lately, they been sending troops out there to guard their gods, keep ‘em from being destroyed.
HF: If I had a god that had to take an army to protect it, I wouldn’t serve that kind of a god. But they will. They believe that their god saves ‘em, but really it don’t. I’d like to see them changed. Now missionaries over there got a pretty good bunch, they got ‘em believing in Christ, you know.
FMG: Your paintings are also intended to be missionary works, and go around the world.
HF: That’s what I told the Lord: Since these church people won’t listen to me, I want to preach all over the world.
FMG: Is that satisfying to you?
HF: Yes, it makes me believe more in God because he’s bringing my desire to me. You might ask, “What is a prayer?” It’s a sincere desire to God from your heart. You can pray in school if you want to because your prayers are invisible, and they’re soundless. You don’t have to make no racket. I can go to any communist country and pray all I want to and nobody’d ever know.
FMG: Do you know of anybody who came to the Christian faith because of your paintings?
HF: Yes, we got some letters of people that wrote us, “Howard, your work has changed us.” My work is to get people to God. Why, it was even a wrestler come to be with me on my birthday.
FMG: Do you like wrestling?
HF: I like wrestling pretty good, unless the referee beats a man out of what’s his. When they do that I’d like to take a good razor strap and beat his tail off. That old boy what came to see me and honor me, I’d never seen him whupped, and he’s a vicious kind of a fella. After I met him, he got whupped by another wrestler.
FMG: You think that was unfair of the referee?
HF: Not that one in particular, but this one the other night was. This man had the fella down, low enough to count him out three times, and that referee over in the corner gabbing with somebody when he shoulda been there and counted that man out. So they stole the whole game from a honest wrestler. That’s damnation to me. When I go to get mad, I turn that wrestling off till a decent group comes on. I don’t like to get mad. The Bible tells you, be angry and sin not. It don’t tell you not to get angry. You’re gonna get angry sometime, with your wife or somebody, but you don’t have to sin. That’s a teaching of the Bible.
FMG: And not one of the easy ones. Tell me, what is your favorite artwork, of everything you’ve done?
HF: Well, I figure I’ve lived better for not having any favorites of anything, food or nothing. Even got a favorite, don’t even mention it or talk about it.
FMG: Why is that?
HF: Well, that’s being a respecter of persons. If they come in here and you come in here, and I put you up on my stand and put them under a footstool, that’s having a respect of persons. That’s a sin.
FMG: So having preferences is not fair.
HF: I had a colored lady teacher in my garden one time, and I had an old refrigerator there I’d put on, “All nations of man come from one blood.” She was standing there reading it and her kids was down there playing. She said, “Howard, I got one question I want to ask you, I’ve asked a lotta of people and none of ‘ems able to give me an answer.” I said, “OK, ask it.” And she said, “How come they’s black people?” And God just gimme the answer to it just like that, it just come in a flash. I said, “Lady, look out there. Hadn’t you seen black sheep, white sheep, all colors of sheep? Hadn’t you seen striped snakes, brown snakes, black snakes, and all kinda snakes?” She said, “Yeah.” I said, “Hadn’t you seen all kinds of chickens, white chickens, brown chickens, yellow chickens? Lady, everything in the world’s different colors. The reason you’re black, God wanted some black people.” Now, somebody had interrupted her thinking, that God was holding something agin’ her like back from Cain thousands of years ago. Well now, that’s not God’s way of doing things. She needed somebody to tell her and I told her and I never saw a face that looked any more pleased.
People ask questions. Busloads of kids come sometimes. One time it was a starter class of one hundred little kids standing there like little soldiers, just as proper, from my gate to my front door, suckin’ their thumbs a lot of them. I had spoke to distinguished people and teachers and congregations, and it come to me, what are you gonna preach to these dudes? They’re too young for prophecy or a parable. What am I gonna speak to them about? I told them, “You see my big thumb?” They looked and seen it. I said, “That’s big there because I used to suck my thumb.” And they every one of ‘em took their thumbs out of their mouth. Now, that was what I was supposed to say. But it puzzled me to start with. Some of ‘em barely weaned, and what you gonna preach to ‘em? After I done that I felt satisfied.
Lot of ‘em probably Baptist, though, because before they left they had that thumb back in there.
FMG: Tell me about your beginnings as an artist.
HF: At first they told me that it wasn’t right to sell your art. I got to studying about it, and they was kinda con artists. You wasn’t supposed to sell it, but when they got it they’d keep it and maybe get a hundred thousand dollars from it. The Lord had to show me to sell my art, he give me a vision that the art was to support me and to build the garden.
One day I had a vision to go full-time on my art and lay everything else aside. I was out on the porch looking down toward the road, and there was a man standing at the gate about fifteen feet tall, and his head was big as a refrigerator. He was familiar to me, I’d met him before, but I couldn’t think of his name to save my life. I didn’t know what to say to him, so I finally said what I say to the other customers, “What can I do for you, sir?” and he said, “You can get on the altar.” And that surprised me. I been preaching forty years, what does he mean? I asked him, “Did you say, ‘Get on the altar?’” and he said, “Yeah, get on the altar.” And when he said that he went down to a normal man, just looking over the top of the gate. And after that went away I said, “Lord, what does this mean?” The Lord said, “If you want to be pretty big in the art work, just reach on out there and go full-time. If you just want to go on and do art part time, you can be a little guy like you are.”
Four days after that a boy come down and wanted me to preach his daddy’s funeral. He told me the name and I said, “They’s so many people by that name, you’ll have to bring me his picture.” When he did I recognized who it was, Preacher Hughes! I said, “Man, your daddy stood at my gate four days ago, a giant!” I’d preached with him, he was one of my preacher friends. And that showed me I was supposed to go full-time art. So I done a plaque and wrote on it that I was gonna go full-time artist, and I molded in it some of my bicycle tools. I got $300 for that, and they put it in the High Museum in Atlanta.
FMG: You began selling your work then.
HF: It was once back then a man had three or four pieces he wanted to buy, brought them up to the gate, and said “Much as this is, I guess I’ll have to write you a check.” I said to him, “Sir, I don’t take a check for that much, $250, from a stranger.” He said, “Well, I guess I’ll have to show you then.” He pulled out a checkbook on Henry Ford’s foundation. I said, “Yeah, I’ll take that check!” That’ll be my first one. We been trading with him for years, me and my daddy, and that will be my first one from him.
All of my life has been a story for people to put together.
FMG: Do you remember the portrait you did of Herbert Wade Hemphill?
HF: Last time I seen that it was at the Smithsonian. I tell you, there’s a lotta detail. I believe he kinda like was sorta drinking alcohol. I changed a piece of work I did for him; might be the only time I’d ever be able to talk to him about other things. I think he’s kind of getting in the bad health. People on alcohol, there’s too much sugar in that stuff, it’ll ruin your body.
FMG: The Smithsonian put a sign next to this painting saying that, “The historical, popular, and biblical subjects of Finster’s portraits embody his concept of the inventor as someone whose creative process will provide the world’s salvation.” Do you agree with that? That the inventor, the artist, provides the world’s salvation?
HF: Probably some people mean different kinds of salvation. I’m talking about the salvation of Jesus Christ, that’s what you gotta have.
FMG: Is it frustrating to you when people misunderstand that message?
HF: Some people don’t understand nothing about the Bible, ‘cause they never have read it. My vision right now is to lead the world to the Bible. Many people have come in here, they’re not looking for a piece of art, they’re looking for a message. A lot of ‘em look on the back of the art and read the message I put there, and they buy it on account of the message.
FMG: You’ve always had an desire to share those messages.
HF: A thing comes on my mind immediately. There was a busload of kids out here one day waiting to leave, and one of them boys asked me a very important question, and a hard question, and his teacher was standing there. He said, “Howard, there are so many churches in the world, which one should I join?” Me being a preacher, I’m supposed to tell him. It come to me like this, immediately. I said, “Son, my Bible only talks about one religion, it says pure and undefiled religion before God. That’s all you’ve got to have. If you get that, it don’t matter what church you’re going to, because all of them churches gonna have to have that pure and undefiled religion or they ain’t gonna make it!” And then he wanted to know what that pure and undefiled religion was, and I quoted to him, and I found myself answering questions and preaching to him and the teacher and the whole class at one time. That was a good answer, and I had never known that answer before.
Another boy was fixing to load up on the other end of the park, and he had a question that I thought of ever since I was a kid. He said, “Howard, if there is a God, why is they bad things in this world?” I could’t answer that, because I’d studied on that same subject myself. All at once that answer come to me, and here is what it was. I said, “Son, God made two people, and he give them a commandment to see if they would choose him. God deserves to be chosen. He didn’t want to make two people and put them in there and pull them out by the hair of the head without them even choosing him.” And I said, “Two things is all you can choose from, there’s no way you can choose from one thing. They had to be good and bad for people to choose. If he hadn’t a given ‘em good and bad, he couldn’t even know himself if they had chosen him.This is the only choosing world there is. If you go to heaven and everything’s good up there, you can’t choose from one thing. If you go to hell and everything’s bad down there, you can’t choose nothing down there. This earth is the only place where you can choose good or bad. But just go out and create some beautiful thing and not even give it a choice to accept you, that’s not God’s way.” I learned that myself, when God showed me. I didn’t even know it till the boy asked me. Now I’ve studied about my answer, and it is right. You choose the good, that is you choose God, and God’s gonna accept that.
FMG: What more to you hope to accomplish in your life?
HF: I don’t really know what I’ve accomplished. Sometimes I get uneasy about myself and wonder if I’m ready, and wonder does God love me, would I go to heaven if I die now. Some things all come to me, and I know I’ve been borned again, and I know I’ve been saved. And I know God has been with me many times, and the spirit of Jesus has been with me, and I seen angels. I don’t reckon you get so good enough till you think you’re perfect. I don’t think anybody but what they’re kinda uneasy, they’re wondering, if they knew they was going to meet God this evening, they’d rather have a little time to study things out. That’s the God part in the human, we’ve all got the image of God in us and we belong to him, even if we’re sinners. Like the Bible says, God is love. It means, if Hitler went to hell, God still loves him, and the way he got to hell was going over God’s love. And if you die today and go to hell, even if you’re in hell he still loves you, his love never stops, but you gotta do something about his love. When you get saved and accept him, you’re all right.
FMG: How do you get saved?
HF: Well, the Bible says, Jesus says, “He that knoweth these sayings of mine” —which is not no big lot of them, but they are enough to get you saved— “and doeth them shall never see death.” I seen my daddy die of cancer, and he went to sleep. My mother went to sleep. I’m not planning on even dying. If I keep his sayings, I’ll go to sleep.
Another place it says, “Whosoever believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” That’s how you get saved, you believe in Jesus Christ. That didn’t come from college or universities or doctors of divinity. You know what the facts is when you hear it, it don’t matter whether you’re a theologist or what you are. When you hear me quote the facts you know it, a smile comes on your face. Anybody has a question I’ll answer it, and if God gives me the answer it’ll be right.
FMG: You used to preach this way every Sunday, I guess.
HF: Then it was common messages of Christ and salvation, you know, now I have great sermons and national sermons that comes to me of things that’s gonna happen. I waited for AIDS to get here. I lived to see leprosy conquered, an unincurable disease for hundreds of years. Now they got some kind of rattlesnake venom and can just about handle leprosy. But a prophet said, “In the last days a grievous sore shall come upon them.” Well, to me that grievous sore is AIDS and radiation cancer, that’s on us right now, and our universities and scientists and everything not even realizing that these things is coming true, and God giving ‘em to me sitting here crippled up and putting ‘em on my boards for them to read. I won’t speak no more in these big universities. It was a miracle to me to do that, because I never thought I’d even get to go inside one of them big universities. At Richmond, Virginia I got $300 a day for teaching folk art, and that’s a pretty sophisticated place. God had that planned for me to show them people something.
The doctor’s home where I stayed, I told him a lot of things. He delivered babies. He was going to work out a plan for me to see a baby delivered. He didn’t know that I didn’t want to see no baby delivered. I seen my first baby delivered, and we didn’t think she would live. And now she’s fifty-something years old, and her delivery bill was $25.
For fifty years I’ve had a vision of leading the world to the Holy Bible. In it they’ll find eternal life, they’ll find how to get to heaven and escape hell, and I’m asking you to buy your own Bible, do your own reading, and see how simple it is to understand. You don’t have to go to Bible school or hear a pastor. If you can’t understand it, you’re pitiful. You’re in the same shape I am.
FMG: Some people read it and they still don’t believe.
HF: There’s a way of proving it to ‘em. You give me a person that don’t believe in Jesus, just let me have one hour with him, and when I get through with him if he don’t believe in Jesus, I consider him to be a fool.
I listen to Bible tapes all the time, and every once in awhile something really touches me. Yesterday I was listening, and it was when several of them had seen Jesus after he was rose from the dead. Thomas hadn’t seen him and was telling ‘em, “I won’t believe in him until I thrust my hand into his side and feel of his nail-scarred hands.” Another occasion come up and there he was. And Jesus said, “Thomas, come hither thy hand into my side and into my hands, see that it’s me, for I don’t want you to go around not believing.” And Thomas broke down saying, “My Lord and my God. Yeah, I believe now.”
He believed by seeing. Well, a fool can do that. You can look at a monkey and believe it’s a monkey. You can look at anything and believe it’s it. Here’s what Jesus had to say about that. “Thomas, thou hast seen and thou doest believe. But blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”
And that was me. That brought tears to my eyes, when Jesus said that. That was me, who believed and hadn’t seen. That’s what’s so great about it, Jesus called me blessed, right there in my bed. And I had to rejoice over that, and I felt sorry for poor Thomas. That blessing was on me, and I felt it, just as fresh as if he was standing there.
I think about meeting Matthew, Mark, and Luke and all the apostles, I’m gonna see them some day.
FMG: Do you think the end is coming soon?
HF: Yes, I don’t think he’ll let us go on like this. At the end, the Bible says the moon will turn to blood, the sun will go out black, and then the stars will fall. There’ll be nothing up there to look at. And when Jesus Christ comes, his glory will shine like radiant light and light up the whole world. When all these things begin to happen, people will mourn and cry. Some of them not ready, and they’ll cry for the rocks and the mountains to fall on them and hide them from the face of this earth. They don’t want anybody to see the shape they’re in: that they’re not ready and they’re not gonna be saved, they’re not going back with Jesus, and they’re miserable.
At the same time you’ll hear people shouting and praising God, and they’ll feel theirself being lifted. We’ll be caught up together in the air with the Lord, and so shall we ever be with him in the air. He said, “I go to prepare a place for you, and will come again for you. Wherever I am, you may be also.” I believe when this earth is burned up and it’s the time of the end, nothing left, there’ll be a new heaven and new earth and no unclean thing shall enter into it. Believing in Jesus Christ, that’s the way to get there. You’re not even supposed to approach the Father without the name of Jesus. That’s the first step to getting to God. And he’s sent me to tell ‘em just what I’m telling you.