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street preacher

This is Neal Thompson. I was driving home through Kirkwood, MO this morning, and he caught my eye. Neal was walking down the middle of the street, dressed in white from head to toe, and carrying what looked to be a Moses staff. I had to stop and hear his story. He referred to himself as a street preacher and told me he'd walked 19,000 miles across this country. There was kindness in his voice, and joy in his eyes, even as he told me of losing his entire family, being kicked out of twenty cities, asked to leave Catholic churches, and arrested three times due to his faith. His kids won't speak to him, and his wife left him because they think he's crazy.  Well Neal, maybe you are crazy...but then again, maybe not, who am I to say. In the ten or fifteen minutes I knew Neal on the street, I know one thing for certain; Neal is a man who believes whole heartedly in something, without any doubt, and without apology, and he's happy to tell anyone who will listen. I found that refreshing and inspiring. As I left him, he shouted after me, "I'll pray for you, my brother, and I'll pray for your loved ones, too".  So to the Street Preacher, thanks for an interesting conversation, and thanks for letting me photograph you.

Ryan Walters  |  St. Louis Portrait + Commercial Photographer

Reader Comments (1)

I ran into Neal on a train from Springfield, IL to Chicago, IL. He explained that he was on his way to Colorado Springs to see "family," which I hope means his personal relations are in improved circumstances since the time he shared them with you.

Anyway, I figured I'd ask your permission to use that third photo for personal purposes. Not for profit nor claims to original work, none of that. I'd just like to share it as representation of my noteworthy encounter with the most complex person I've ever met.
Mar 19, 2013 at 1:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterWill

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