California Taggers Find Legal Outlet

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Battling graffiti and taggers seems like a hopeless task in many areas, but Rev. Zeke Nelson is taking a different approach.

Nelson is pastor of Church of the Cross/Iglesia de la Cruz, a Christian Reformed Church plant in Delhi, Calif.

He has helped create a legal wall for taggers to practice their art. “This is an outreach to young taggers. Gangbangers and taggers are different. Gang tagging is marking territory; tagging is to get a reputation,” Nelson said.

Rui Machado leads this project. He was an illegal tagger, but since he came to faith in Christ, he has found legal ways to practice the art form and has a passion for reaching out to young guys who are involved in tagging.

“For a lot of kids, it is something to belong to. They have broken homes, no confidence, and they’re disappointed about the way life is going. This is a way to have another life,” said Machado.

Every other weekend, taggers are allowed to paint on a wall at a local business.  Brenda Saavedra, owner of the Curves business that offered the space, said, “It doesn’t always look like people’s idea of art, so I had to ask myself, ‘Do I care more about what people will think or about what God wants to do?’ I care about what God wants to do.”

As he has opportunity, Machado shares his faith with these young artists and invites them to the youth group at Church of the Cross.


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