or the thousands of guests who visit and tour the Assemblies of God headquarters in Springfield,
Missouri, every year, the cardinal doctrines of the AG are about to be permanently emblazoned on their
How does a national headquarters create such a striking image that salvation, divine healing, the
baptism in the Holy Spirit and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ are made the “unforgettable” doctrines
— especially in this age of gigabytes and instant visual impact?
After prayerfully seeking God’s guidance, the leadership of the Assemblies of God, led by General
Superintendent Thomas E. Trask, decided to go where no other major religious denomination has gone for
centuries — fine art.
“Centuries ago, images and paintings were used by the Church to point a pre-literate public to Christ,”
explains Juleen Turnage, AG Communications and Offi ce of Public Relations director. “In today’s hi-tech,
information-overloaded world, you have a somewhat similar situation in that you only have a few seconds
to capture someone’s attention. We wanted people to walk into our national Headquarters and instantly
know, ‘Ah-ha, this is what the Assemblies of God is all about’ as we point them to Christ.”
What Turnage soon learned was that the Assemblies of God was about to attempt an unparalleled
modern-day effort. As she began an exhaustive search for religious art that would communicate the ongoing
presence, power and compassion of Christ, she discovered that it didn’t exist — and definitely not in
the mural size required. They would need to have original works of art created.
In that moment of realization, the project took on a depth of signifi cance even still not yet fully realized.
Massive original murals, specific purpose, not attempted by any modern-day church or artist and
must communicate and captivate beyond visually to spiritually . . . it would take a person chosen by God
to take on such a challenge.
After contacting several accomplished artists, Turnage was given the name of world-renown artist
Ron DiCianni (see http://www.tapestryproductions.com for examples of his work).
Turnage says there is simply no doubt that DiCianni was handpicked by God for the endeavor.
After being presented with the project goals, DiCianni readily accepted the challenge. He knew in his
heart that this opportunity to move art back into the overall spiritual message of the Church was God keeping
a promise to him made some 35 years ago.
Early in his career, DiCianni says God told him that he would one day devote his talents to the Christian
community and be involved in a second Renaissance.
“I was told [by an instructor] it would never happen — the Church would never be interested,” DiCianni
says. “[My instructor] was wrong.”
But how does someone go about doing something he’s never done before? DiCianni had never painted
anything this size and now he was to do four pieces approximately 7 feet by 10 feet. He explains that the
Smithsonian some years before had made a similar request of him, but he refused, believing he couldn’t
“Knowing that God brought this [murals project] to me, I had no fear at all,” DiCianni says. “Like
David and Goliath . . . I didn’t even give it a second thought.”
However, after meeting with AG leadership and knowing the call God had placed on his life, DiCianni
did the only thing he could: pray.
“I spent a lot of time in prayer and meditation and seeking God as to what would deliver the four
cardinal doctrines to this generation,” DiCianni explains. “I didn’t want to do something that was merely
documentary or merely beautiful, but something that would cause people to say, ‘I never saw myself in
that situation, but I do now.’ ”
One of the unique aspects of DiCianni paintings is that in many of them, biblical imagery and contemporary
people are combined.
Along with his undeniable skill as an artist, being a Spirit-filled Christian and affiliated with the Assemblies
of God all of his life gave DiCianni insight other artists couldn’t bring to the table. Yet, he’s quick
to point out that although he prepared for the paintings — sketches, models, photography — many times
he would step away from one of the pieces, stunned.
“I honestly stood back and looked at them and wondered who did them,” DiCianni says. “I’d see
things and think, ‘I don’t even remember doing that. The Holy Spirit was definitely with me.”
Although one might think that painting the doctrines of salvation, divine healing, Christ’s second coming
and baptism in the Spirit would come from an inner passion that would leave one feeling warm and
comfortable, DiCianni says that God had a different message for him.
“What do we have on the walls of our churches, offices, homes, children’s rooms?” DiCianni asks rhetorically.
“It’s not decoration, it’s communication. You’re saying this is what is important to me and what
should be important to you.
“I think the Church has become infected with the morals and values of the world,” DiCianni adds. “We
live according to what the world has shown us as what’s important . . . we think we’re serving God, but in
reality, we’ve just added Him to our repertoire, our list of things we do.”
Over the past number of years, DiCianni believes God has been molding his life and exposing weaknesses
in a manner of spiritually preparing him for the task now set before him. Admitting he’s still far
from perfect, DiCianni says his focus has become one of the “eternal” and the desperate desire each Christian
should have to not only live for Christ, but share Christ.
“God chose me to confront the church with biblical values,” he continues. “If those biblical values
make you cry, think twice, make you weep then the Spirit is at work.”
DiCianni began work on sketching out the paintings. He admits that he presented AG leaders with the
“traditional” sketches that he thought the Assemblies of God would want. He also included the sketches he
felt the Holy Spirit had spoke into his heart. However, he did not let his preferences be known.
The meeting with AG leadership left DiCianni marveling at how the Holy Spirit was orchestrating
“I don’t think there was a question on any of them [the sketches],” DiCianni says. “The whole team
was so united from beginning to end, there was not even one painting we disagreed on.”
After being commissioned in prayer, he headed back to his studio in California to build a huge easel to
handle the large canvasses and assemble scaffolding.
At that point, God granted another miracle. Painting smaller canvases does not require broad strokes
and exaggerated arm movements. Painting murals is another story.
DiCianni has a torn rotator cuff in his “painting” arm. There are times when he can’t even put on his
belt and if he reaches too high or throws a ball, the pain is excruciating.
“But, I could paint these 9-foot murals and there was no pain at all, isn’t that amazing?” DiCianni
says, still with wonder in his voice. “Kind of like Moses, ‘Lord, I stutter,’ I was saying, ‘Whoa God, I can’t
do this,’ but there I was standing on a scaffold painting. The whole time, God was so gracious — no pain
As the murals progressed, DiCianni says the paintings became consuming. For the next 16 months he
put pretty much everything else on hold.
“Once you get the sense that God is in something, God gets a hold of you,” he says. “Like a missionary
to go to China, it becomes like an obsession or passion that grips your life. I recognized this was not
just another job — it was a whole lot bigger than I could have ever imagined.”
However, DiCianni has no illusions of godly grandeur or that creating a great work was all up to him
and his talents.
“God didn’t need me, He chose to use me,” DiCianni explains. “If I would have said ‘no,’ God would
have chosen someone else in a heartbeat. Our obedience is a privilege, not a favor.”
DiCianni didn’t know how true his words would prove. For midway through his work on the murals, a
heartbeat is all that separated him from God.
“I went in for a check-up and I was told by my doctor that I needed another heart surgery,” DiCianni
recalls. “I thought, ‘Lord, please, not now.’ I told the doctor I couldn’t have the operation now because I
was working on these murals. He told me, “you can’t do them if you’re dead.’ ”
However, his apprehension and fears were eased when God spoke into his life. I had nothing to fear,
DiCianni recalls. God knew I would need this operation before I even started the project, and He finishes
what He started.
Claiming that promise, DiCianni went through the heart surgery, having three additional stents inserted
in his arteries.
“The first time [I had this procedure], it took me seven months to recover,” DiCianni says. “This time,
I didn’t even have a week, if that long, of recuperation!” What’s more, he would later return to his doctor
and receive his first “normal” heart check-up in more than a decade. “God not only strengthened me to do
what I had to do,” DiCianni adds, “He healed me.”
The evidence of the Holy Spirit working in DiCianni’s personal life and through what transpired on
the four murals is not difficult to document. Breath taking, awe inspiring, heart breaking, hope giving . . .
the difficulty is communicating the presence and ministry of the Spirit radiating from within each of
“My prayer,” DiCianni says, “is that people will see the paintings and their hearts will break before
God, that they’ll weep before God and that they’ll see themselves in the paintings and that would be my
As a confirmation that He would do what He promised, God told DiCianni years ago that what He
would one day do through him would make people weep.
The day the art of Christ’s second coming was hung at AG headquarters, Assistant General Superintendent
Charles Crabtree stood before it and wept.
The Assemblies of God leadership and DiCianni share another dream for these spiritual masterpieces.
It’s apparent to all involved in this project that God’s intent for these works exceeds the AG national headquarters
and even the cardinal doctrines they depict. Their true ministry lies in the hearts of those individuals
walking through the church doors unaware of the life-changing power of God as well as to those who
have dedicated their lives to Christ.
“I believe these images can give our churches the ability to visually talk to a visual society: ‘we want
to put this in your mind to get you ready to understand what we stand for, what the Bible stands for and get
ready to receive it yourself,’ ” DiCianni explains. “In homes, they would be a constant reminder that will
challenge us and remind us every day of our purpose and what God has done for us.”
On Tuesday, June 6, 2006, the murals were officially dedicated at the Assemblies of God headquarters.
Gospel Publishing House, in cooperation with Tapestry Productions, will be making smaller, canvas reproductions
of the murals available for churches and individuals to order at a special reduced pre-production
price, later this year. The opportunity will be offered through the AG Web site, AG News and other
“I want this sight and sound generation to be ‘assaulted’ by these paintings — they demand a decision,
they demand a response,” DiCianni says. “I pray that people walk into church, see these murals and before
the pastor even opens his mouth, say ‘I’m ready to accept Christ.’ ”