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A Passionate Man

May 9, 2011

Story and Photographs by Robin Nelson

© 2011 All Rights Reserved

Driving home through rural Tennessee after a five-day story on nuclear power, I opted for the back roads once again. It always brings me back to the reason I do what I do.

I remembered seeing hand-painted signs near a worn, junk-strewn barn a few days earlier. I found the place again and  I just had to stop. The dogs beyond the fence barked a lot but didn’t really look hungry. Nevertheless I yelled out, “Is anyone home?” rather than climb over the gate to go knocking on the front door of the house.

I noticed a old pickup truck in the gravel driveway. It had a metal, hand-painted sign mounted to the top. I knew I had to meet the man who put it there.

I yelled once more. A few minutes passed and the door opened. An elderly woman came out with a big smile on her face. She seemed genuinely pleased that some stranger came to visit. 

I asked about the dogs. She ‘shooed’ them away and opened the gate. Then David walked outside. A tall fellow in his later years,  he seemed eager to talk. He proudly showed me his metal signs  and explained that he was a street evangelist. I asked to make his picture and he happily complied. “But only if you get me with my signs,” he said.

His name is David Decker. Perhaps you’ve seen him on various street corners in cities throughout the South. He makes a little money from  selling scrap metal, but it all goes to support his passion for sharing the Gospel to anyone who might be walking by. 

Perhaps you ignored him, writing him off as just another ‘religious nut’ with a sign on a street corner. It doesn’t phase him. A lot of people look past him. “If one person stops to listen out of thousands who might pass by, and that person learns something about who Jesus is, it’s worth it,” he said.

I made a few pictures of David with his signs. Then Susan joined him. “She’s my girlfriend,” David explained. “My wife died a few years ago. Susan and I will probably get married one of these days,” he said.

We talked for a bit before I headed back to the car. “Have a blessed day,” he said. “See you in Heaven.”

David likely won’t make the cover of Christianity Today. His pictures likely won’t go beyond this blog. But none of that matters, either to David or myself.  I had an opportunity to meet an interesting person who is a colorful thread in the fabric of the South.  I made a picture that makes me smile. 

May it brighten your day as well.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Moe permalink
    May 9, 2011 8:44 am

    Awesome pictures and story Robin. Each time we go to Church get revitalized with the word of God. These pictures speak volumes…

  2. W. G. Todd permalink
    July 14, 2011 12:31 am

    Thank you Robin for this superb article about David. He is my brother in-law and he is genuine to the core.

    He grew up in a broken home on a red dirt farm where he and a brother lived with an alcoholic father. They have a sister (my wife) who was thrown out with their mother and left to fend for themselves. Their mother died when my wife Joyce was only 12, and she was passed from one relative to another when they needed free labor.

    You must be a “one-of-a-kind” journalist to hit on such a heart-warming story as David’s just by driving by, and then touch every heartstring in it.

    Very professionally done.

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