A significant date
The 21st of January 2018 was very significant, but it passed without my knowing until a few
days later while I was catching up with my website, the date - exactly 150 years since the
designer of the picture - A Mrs Charlotte Reihlen of Stuttgart passed into Eternity. Somehow
I don't think this is a coincidence… For along time I had not visited my website...Plus,
I had been unable to update the site…. But I was able resolve this now. So for
me this is very significant. So I decided to make a picture as a tribute to Charlotte Reihlen.
But I am thinking perhaps I should make an illustrated book ….. 150 year ago the world
was a very different place but the picture still has a very up to date message to tell!
Do we want to change the world for the better? If we do, then it may be helpful to understand
how God changed the world in the past through His people. .... and still impacting around
the world today, 150 years later. January 21st 1868 Charlotte Reihlen passed from this
world to the next. She died relatively young - 63 years. Little did she know that a picture
she commissioned in the last years of her life on earth would have such an impact. Her
prayers and sincere desire to share the Gospel through the picture - became a wonderful
reality. The image was the culmination of a life dedicated to serving Christ and His Kingdom.
Charlotte along with her husband Friedrich were used by God to begin many good works in
their native city of Stuttgart, Germany, helping the poor, rescue houses for needy children
and starting Christian initiatives that still exist today.
Charlotte was not an artist, but she had a good idea of what she wanted to say through art.
When she met a pious artist by the name of Conrad Schacher. She was then able to transfer
her message to the world through the image he created. This started an incredible story -
as no sooner had she passed away. The image fell into the hands of an English preacher
named Gawin Kirkham, Secretary of the "Open-Air Mission." He was so impacted when he
first saw the picture and understood the message - He saw it as his life's calling to preach
the message of the picture, and commissioned 3 large paintings, copies of the picture, each
one bigger than the previous, the largest being 9ft x 12ft for open air preaching - in the
streets, public squares and churches up and down the British Isles. During his lifetime he
preached well over 1000 times in public - Even travelling to the United States and the
Continent, and even visited Israel taking the message of the picture.
Over a 100,000 copies of the picture were printed, and went to the four corners of the earth,
translated into several languages. The picture is by far the most well known and sought after
of it's type - even today 150 years later. By all accounts Gawin Kirkham was a formidable
open air preacher, a dynamic personality who raised an army of a street preachers in the UK
and beyond during his active years as the Secretary of the Open Air Mission Society whose
ranks swelled to over a thousand. Today, the image still has a lot of fascination, although
not without criticism, some complain for theological reasons or ridicule as old fashioned ...
But the image has a testimony and a history that we do well to ponder and respect ..... It
was used by the Lord for good, making wise to salvation a generation during the Victorian era.
Anyone who studies the history of the picture and its message can not deny, the picture
brings eternity into sharp focus with a message that is not negotiable - it is for every
generation to believe and seek the Lord while He may be found .... It's the message
Charlotte Reihlen wanted to speak to the world, and Gawin Kirkham took up the baton to
make known. And is the same message we too are entrusted with.