Chris Hartwick was born in northern Illinois on February 6, 1969, with Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita. The disease left him without proper muscle development in his arms and chest.


His artistic talent became noticeable at a young age when Chris began to draw and paint with his mouth. He continued drawing and painting throughout his adolescence, then enrolled at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina, in 1987. He studied graphic design, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in May of 1993.


Working as a digital artist in the animation department in the division of cinema for Bob Jones University – Chris now works with the BJ Help Network – creating animation for educational programs, which are broadcast to home-schooled children. His work also includes designing puppets, graphic design, and producing an arts and craft show.





An original work painted by Chris Harwick was published as a greeting card by the International Mouth and Foot Painters Association, an art group based in Europe for physically disabled artists.



Spring in Bloom


Chris’ work has been featured at many local, state and national competitions and exhibits, winning awards and receiving recognition regularly. Chris’ main subject matter is roses, which he chooses to illustrate in a variety of mediums, such as ballpoint pen, gouache, oil and watercolor.


Chris’ hobbies include swimming, reading, cooking and karate. He is also a CPR and first aid instructor for Greenville County in South Carolina.


Imagine visiting a museum with expectations of seeing famous works of art. Upon arrival the only works found on display are framed canvases – empty of color, form or design. An unlikely scenario but in some ways a person, experiencing a time of difficulty may feel their life is similar to an empty canvas, searching to enrich their life only to discover their pallet of colors quickly fade not having a True Foundation.


In the following Message of Hope Chris shares biblical principles that have filled his own personal canvas of life with joy and purpose – revealing the Master Creator’s individual plan for every person, bringing forth the artist within – for God’s glory.


The Artist Within


by Chris Hartwick




“I could never do that!”


How many times have you said this to yourself or heard others say it? I’ve lost count myself. As an artist people tell me this all the time after they have viewed my work. I tell them if they practice enough they can be just as good or better than me. Then they say “I can’t even draw a stick figure with both my hands.” Well, neither can I. Of course my excuse is a bit more obvious. I was born with Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita; a rare muscular disease which affects any part of the body. For me it took away the ability to use my arms and hands. I do most things with my mouth.


At birth, many people said that I wouldn’t be able to do anything. Umpteen years later I’m working as an animator/graphic designer and living by myself. How’d that happen? It has all been by the grace of God. The ultimate artist shaped me the way he wanted from the very beginning.


“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”- Genesis 1:1. Then ….God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them”- Genesis 1:27. Wow, what a thought! To know that you and I are wonderfully made by God. Psalms 139:13-16 reiterates this aspect of our lives: ” For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully [ and ] wonderfully made: marvelous [ are ] thy works; and [ that ] my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, [ and ] curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all [ my members ] were written,[ which ] in continuance were fashioned, when [ as yet there was ] none of them.


Being handicapped wasn’t a problem for me until reaching my teenage years. During those years it became hard for me to sit by and watch my peers do everything that I couldn’t like driving and playing sports. I became very discouraged and unhappy. At age 15, I went to church camp and before the week ended accepted the lord as my Saviour. What a change that decision has made on my life. Now, instead of looking at what can’t be done I look at what can be done.


There are times I don’t see my self handicapped because I can do as much as those around me. Then there are days that God makes me see I’m limited in what I can do. But these are the days that help me remember that God is trying to mold me into a better vessel – Psalm 40:1 “I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.” I may not understand why God made me handicapped but I can trust him to lead me according to His will – Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”


It is sad to see our world pushing God out at every point. It is amazing to see the problems that are arising from the outcome. But it isn’t surprising as scripture reveals in Romans 1:21-31 “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [ him ] not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:”


Our culture is teaching us to believe in ourselves; we create our own destinies, we are going to get better, we don’t need God because we are gods in our own way. Really? If I had listened to the culture that told me ” you won’t make it; you’re handicapped: you can’t do it; you’ll get hurt,” I wouldn’t be where I am today. I thank the Lord for giving me a can do spirit and a caring, Godly family that taught me to trust not in myself, peers, or those around me but my Creator.


I am able to bowl, cook, swim, do art and karate, play miniature golf, ping-pong, soccer, volleyball, teach CPR and accomplish many other things by God’s grace. I know that my strength is not in myself but through Christ – Philippians 4:13 ” I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”


As I look back and see each thing that has been accomplished I realize that once I have fully grasped it something new is given to me to attain. Each a stepping stone in fulfilling what the Lord has for my life.


I’m happy and content as a handicapped person. Can you say the same for yourself, handicapped or not? Here are a few steps that you can take towards happiness.


Realize that you are a sinner:


Isaiah 53:6 “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”


Don’t become distraught; there is a way out:


John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.


Psalm 106:8 “Nevertheless he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make his mighty power to be known.”


Doubt of a sinful background may cause you to hesitate:


1 Corinthians 6:9-11

“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”


Salvation can be accepted by anyone:


Acts 2:21


“And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”


This is the only way:


Acts 4:12


“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”


Ephesians 2:8-9


” For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”


God hears and answers:


Psalm 32:5


“I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.”


Salvation is yours always:


Isaiah 51:6,8


“Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished… For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool: but my righteousness shall be for ever, and my salvation from generation to generation.”


Hebrews 13: 5-6


“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”


The best time is now:


2 Corinthians 6:2


(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)


Why does anyone care?:


James 5:20


” Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.”


Now that you know the best way to be truly happy have you done it?


God is the artist within transforming our lives one day at a time. We can compare this to a lump of clay in a potter’s hands as related in Romans 9:21 “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?” or Lamentations 4:2 “The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter!”


Isn’t it amazing to see a potter create such beauty out of something that doesn’t seem to be very lovely? Just think what God can do for you as he has done for me and so many others.



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