by Matthew J

Bombing Science: Let’s start with the name – “Jesus Saves”. What is the meaning behind that particular name? What is your reason for using it?

Jesus Saves: The meaning behind Jesus Saves is salvation through Jesus Christ. I started writing Jesus Saves since 1995 and I started hitting up every borough hoping and believing that through my Jesus Saves tag New York City can be saved by believing it and receiving it and the reason why I use it is because this was my way of preaching the gospel to influence a lot of young cats in the streets na’mean. As I write it on the walls, it preaches for me 24/7, it is a message I leave behind for many people to see it and realize that salvation is found through Jesus Christ not through church, religion or being a goody goody.

BS: I first caught wind of you from a promo for the 5AM DVD. How did you become involved with that project and how has the DVD impacted your notoriety?

Jesus Saves: I got in touch with 5AM through MySpace. I told them I had footage and they were glad to hear from me so they put me down and I was also glad to be a part of the 5am dvd as well. Most of the footages you saw at 5AM was filmed in long island and some parts in the bronx. 5 am is the 5th graffiti dvd I’m being featured on and to me 5AM has been one of the best and realest dvd I have ever seen graffiti wise. (Check this DVD here)

BS: How do fellow writers feel about your form of ministry? Do they ever talk to you about it? How open are they to that sort of message?

Jesus Saves: Most of them understands what I’m trying to do and what I’m trying to get across. They look at it [Jesus Saves] as a regular tag ,like writing everywhere, but those who know about my ministry support me and gives me props and they say, “Wow God is using you in a mighty way.”
People have told me how they would be sad , depressed,  even stressed but after they saw “Jesus Saves” they felt a relieved- like wow, amen God is speaking to me through walls and through this graffiti evangelist yet others is against it and say, “I’m a contradiction. How can I love God and rep Jesus Christ by vandalizing on peoples property?”.  I don’t write on clean property unless is all graffed up

BS: How do Christians feel about your method of spreading the gospel? Are they supportive? Do they understand what you’re trying to accomplish?
Jesus Saves: Out of a 100% , only 15% agrees with it and be like, “Wow, amen.  That’s a good way to do it” . This is the best way to influence the youth for Jesus. God is using you in the darkest part of the world to leave his light for people to see”.

But the other 85%  say, ”No, that’s wrong The Bible says is wrong what you’re doing. You’re dirtying Jesus’ name on the walls” and this and that but in my opinion the way I see it God is using me in a tremendous way through graffiti…because of this I been interviewed on graff sites and about 5 graff magazines and this is a good way to have God using me to let others know about the salvation of Christ which is real. is crazy cause is like I’m being condemned for this but at the same time God is receiving all the honor glory and shine through this

BS: For many people, graffiti is not a conventional way to spread the gospel. Then again, the “graffiti crowd” are usually not the type of people whom traditional church-folk speak to. In a way, you’re bridging the gap between these groups.
How do you see graffiti as it relates to spreading the gospel to people who are often overlooked by traditional church? Is it a great platform?

Jesus Saves: I think so some people agrees with it and some people don’t .some say is wrong to vandalize the gospel of Jesus saves graffiti wise. is wrong graffiti is not about religion or Jesus or gospel. but then again this is my best way i can relate to a lot of graffiti writers church member will take the time to be involved in the graffiti world to evangelize to others like I do not only I evangelized to other writers but i also gave many of them advice when it came to problems and tough situations I also prayed for so many youths in the middle of the streets. most of them were not writers.. I’m being a light through Jesus in the graffiti world. I’m an instrument of God being used for His honor and glory.. There are many more Christians graffiti artist like gospel graffiti crew ATC (addicted to Christ) and other Christians around the world who are painting and piecing and repping Jesus Christ as well. The only difference is that they do stuff legal and legit. I guess I’m the only “Jesus freak” who is going all out on walls ,trucks, vans and all but now in days I chill cause now I’m also getting in to piecing and traveling overseas to paint legally. Laws against graffiti are very strict, right now, in New York. I’m not tryna do time for this, na’mean?

BS: Stereotypically, the secular-world often views, Christians are viewed as being very pious and dull — something like Ned Flanders. Do you feel being a Christian hinders you as a graffiti writer? Also, do you think Christianity can co-exist within the culture of graffiti? 
Jesus Saves: Some Christians approve of me and some don’t. The Bible says in Matthew 7Do not judge or you will be judge do not condemn or you will be condemned ..“ so God knows what my purpose to be the graffiti writer I am today . Ok maybe I got 7 arrests for it and I did my time in jail but even in prison God was using me to read The Bible to so many inmates on Rikers Island every night at 9 o’clock and gave advice to so many who were going through pain and much suffering. To let those without hope know that there is hope. it didn’t take me being a gangsta or a thug to get respect [in prison]. I got respect for being humbled as a man of God who is not ashamed of His word and for showing a good example by loving and respecting myself and others. Some say what they’re in there for, I would say I’m the graffiti writer Jesus Saves ; some didn’t know but those who were familiar with the tag would be like, “yooooo, that’s you? Wow man you’re everywhere!!!!” lol
They would help me also blessing me with commissary for doing their names and their girls name in graffiti on envelopes and letters that be sent out to their wives and kids 🙂
Christianity already exist in the graffiti culture, like I said 50% of the graffiti writers are Christians who serve God in spirit . Remember that The Bible doesn’t say anything about graffiti being a sin. If that was the case then I wouldn’t even use a pen or pencil to write on the wall. I got respect for the word of God. I studied The Bible and learned so much from it . I know it and I do my best as a human being by living it and walking it.   

BS: It’s ironic that some people would rather see an artist’s false-depiction of a blonde haired/blue-eyed Jesus, yet when a graffiti artist posts ”
Do fellow Christians get upset with the way you spread the message? Do any of them see “Jesus Saves” as blasphemous due to the fact it’s graffiti? And what is your response to that?

Jesus Saves: I had a lot of Christians getting upset with me saying that God is going to punish me for writing up everywhere graffiti wise but they would never reach the youth and influence a massive young crowd for God like I have done. Not to show-off or to say I’m better than them but is not right how so many of them condemn me and judge me when they don’t even know how many lives I have touched because of this. Not only seeing Jesus Saves everywhere but also having the chance to meet so many I can evangelize to pray for and give them the advice God puts in my heart to give them where I had some even crying on my shoulders as I received them with a hug and so much love… it’s not all about dressing in a 3 piece suit caring the big fat holy bible and jumping up and down and preaching fired up in the spirit. Yes that’s good but there is much more to it than that. For me is all about reaching a world who is hurt in pain and crushed emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually!!!
I was there where so many Christians is at. I attended a Spanish Pentecostal church in Bushwick Brooklyn where I would preach on the trains or in a corner on Knickerbocker and Myrtle Ave and be dressed up and preach about the second coming of Christ and that is a must to repent or else is to late. I was on that level and even though it is all true I decided to take it to another level where I feel like I don’t need to scare people away or to push people away … for the love of humanity I decided to take it to the graffiti level where non-writers and writers can see the Jesus Saves message — salvation through Jesus Christ that’s it point blank!!!! 

BS: If Jesus was walking the earth, today, do you think He would be down with graffiti?
Jesus Saves: The thing is that graffiti existed way before Jesus with Egyptian symbols and signs. As for graffiti art I don’t think Jesus would judge or condemn it cause The Bible says that Jesus didn’t only come for the righteous but he also came to this world for the sinners and if there’s any type of graffiti that represents sin like 666 or the f you word or f the police or any racism words or any type of sexual drawings of course Christ wouldn’t approve it cause He’s holy. But graffiti art is beautiful and is a talent that God has giving people to do, yet many don’t realize it.
The closest thing that Jesus ever did in the Bible that can relate to graffiti was the time when the prostitute was going to get stoned to death. The bible says that Jesus bent down and He used his finger to write something on the muddy ground. He got back up and the Pharisees said “teacher, teacher this women has been caught sleeping around and who ever is caught in sin shall be stoned. Jesus replied and said: he who is without sin cast the first stone….they all dropped it and left…but before all this Jesus wrote something on the ground on a muddy ground. This is the closest it gets to Jesus approving graffiti, I guess.

BS: I just want to go a little bit forward with the artist depiction of Jesus, this is a subject I have had many debates over with Christians. Although the Bible doesn’t describe His exact look, it does state that Jesus had skin the color of bronze and hair like wool. Many countries outside of North America, the Roman Catholic Church is very prominent. Recently, I was in Chile and many of Catholic homes are adorned with images of a white Jesus and also the deification of the Virgin Mary.
Being Latino, yourself, do you ever get upset or uneasy with the portrayal of “white” Jesus in some Latino households?
Jesus Saves: I am Latino but it gives me no reason to judge a skin color or to take it offense to it. The skin color of Christ has nothing to do with salvation. rather Jesus was white black or tan or what ever other color people wanna say he was it doesn’t matter. the thing is that he came and died for my sins and because of him I’m saved and I will resurrect to eternal life when I’m dead and gone from this world. Jesus didn’t only died for the white man or for the black man or for the Latinos and Europeans. He died on the cross for the whole world that the world through him may be saved…he resurrected the 3rd day so when we die we can also resurrect through Him. I cant get offended with Jesus being a white European with blue eyes and blond hair nor can I get offended if Jesus was black with red eyes and hair of wool. The thing is that when I pray at night and mention Jesus something happens -problems and issues starts to shake and crumble. The name of Jesus is powerful and is the name that even demons respect!!!!!!!!

BS: I asked the last question because it personally bothers me that people are ingrained with a powerful image which is not true. Sure Jesus’ race shouldn’t be something we dwell on, however, I don’t like the way it has been distorted. And when you ask people about it they tell you it’s not important… okay, if it’s not important why make any images of Him?? Know what I mean? 
How can a man born of Hebrew-Arab blood be white??

Jesus Saves: As for Jesus being white is an idea of an oil painting that was first created by the Europeans such as Leonardo di Vinci and Michelangelo and Raphael. Don’t get it confused or twisted about Jesus being white. To me if he was an Israelite and a Hebrew I’m pretty sure his skin color must have been tan or some other type of dark color not to say he was black either but I know he wasn’t as white people think he is.

BS: Shepard Fairey created a worldwide phenomenon with his Obey Giant campaign. In some ways, “Jesus Saves” is starting to catch on with people all over the globe. First, how do you feel about this phenomenon? Secondly, did you ever envision your message becoming so widespread?

Jesus Saves: It feels good that from New York my tag Jesus Saves is being known and recognized all over the world and through out the whole United States. I have painted in other states as well beside NY and as for overseas I also painted in different parts of Europe and also in Puerto Rico. The more I spread the Jesus Saves message around the world and across the US, the more powerful the message becomes; not for me to shine and not for me to be based on but for Jesus Christ who is the savior to shine. It’s not about me, it’s about my message and Jesus Christ that’s what I want people to understand!!!

When I attended a Pentecostal Church in Brooklyn (Bushwick) for 7 years it was told by different preachers and prophet that my calling was to be an evangelist. I took it serious and am willing to travel anywhere in the world to piece a Jesus Saves mural that’s my goal right now 😉

BS: With all the pressure being put on graffiti writers, do you ever feel like not writing as much? Or are you determined to get up no matter what?

Jesus Saves: No matter what, I’m a graffiti writer ‘til the day I die. I’ma rep my Jesus Christ to the fullest and no one and nothing can hold me back from it…yet the law is strict and since i got 7 arrest for graffiti I can do serious time if I get caught tagging for example a year or more behind bars so now that I caught enough tags all over I’m gonna take it to another level where I’m just gonna start piecing and doing walls legally and legit to remain in the graff game for ever and to continue to spread the message. not only piece and do legal walls in New York but also in other states and other countries as well. I’m also having plans to go to Sao Paulo, Brazil where i have friends I can stay with and also in the UK – (London, England) where I have friends I met out here in NY that moved out there. I also got a friend who I chill with here from Scotland and he’s gonna take me around Scotland and show me spots to hit up where I can piece at. As for this summer, I’m going to Spain and stay with some cats I met when I was out there last year. What also makes my trip is my digital camera for the flicks and my camcorder for the videos. I got people in different countries where I can stay at as long as I do . I’m good cause hotels for me are too expensive, lol.

BS: What’s the biggest misconception about you?

Jesus Saves: A misconception happens when a person believes in a concept which is objectively false. So in that case spiritually I walk in the light and in the spirit and truth there is no misconception on my side cause Jesus is the way the life and the truth. The only misconception about me would be something I believe to be which is not true. For example, just because I pray a lot and I read and study the Bible and God uses me in a tremendous way- not only through graff but through ministering young people – I get amphed up and gassed up as if I were the best evangelist in the world, as if I was God’s best when is not even true, na’mean?
BS: Word Association: I’ll give you a word or phrase and ‘you give me the first word(s) that come to mind

Pat Boon vs. the real David Wilkerson: Who is the better pastor? (haha):
Pat Boon played David Wilkerson in a 1973 movie called “The Cross and The Switchblade” .
Pat Boon is an actor and now a Christian, but David Wilkerson is the only pastor with heart to go to the Fort Green projects in downtown Brooklyn, back in 1957, to face and preach to two of Brooklyn’s deadliest and biggest gangs ever… the Mau Maus and the Chaplins.
[Note from MJ: I remember watching that movie and I thought Pat Boon’s outfit/wardrobe was hilarious. Glad I missed that fashion era.]

Favourite hobbies (outside of graffiti) : I love skateboarding , reading The Bible, and drawing but most of the time I work.

Religion: Christian I was raised in a Pentecostal church but my religion is Jesus Christ

Place you most want to visit: Europe continuously

Place you most want to tag: in Israel

City with the best graffiti scene: NYC, London, Barcelona, Madrid, Granada, Paris, Berlin, Hamburg Frankfurt, England , and Cali.

Biggest Dream in life: to become the worlds universal graffiti writer… better believe I’ll make this dream come true.

BS: 5.10.15. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years? 15 years?

Jesus Saves: If I’m still alive I can see myself still painting worldwide and maybe living in Spain, if God permits it.

BS: Any last words…

Jesus Saves: I wanna thank my lord and savior Jesus Christ for coming in to my life and for making a big change in me for so many years. Thank you Matthew for this opportunity and the rest of the bombing science crew. Mom, Chris, Willie, Gesse, my ATC (Addicted to Christ) crew. Nothing much to say but thank you 🙂