Painting reflects dying sister, Holy Spirit

Mike Oisten with the painting by Jen Bubp. (Submitted photo)
Mike Oisten with the painting by Jen Bubp. (Submitted photo)

By Mark Ambrogi

As Mike Oisten watched over his dying sister in her Simon Cancer Center room, he decided to play the “Revelation Song” by Kari Jobe on his phone.

While he put his right hand on her head with his eyes closed as he prayed, the sibling shared a true revelation.

“From there I could feel a figure that walked around to my left and I started tingling, Oisten said. “I felt it walked behind me. She could feel something in the room. I kept my eyes shut. Then it went all the way around me and I got more goose bumps. I physically felt something on my right shoulder that made me jerk and look up to my right to see who was standing there. There was nobody there. I shut my eyes and the spirit figure put its left hand on my shoulder and put its right hand up and completely the hands up. She said she could feel that. It was amazing.”

About a week later, his older sister, Vicki Conley, 55, succumbed to leukemia on Nov. 24, 2013. Before her passing, Oisten, 49, said his sister saw an angel or spirit in the corner of the room on a couple of other occasions. The experience not only touched Oisten deeply, but gave him hope as well.

“I pictured it as the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit will never let you go through things you can’t stand,” Oisten said. “I think he was there to help raise her up into heaven. I decided I had to put it in a painting so others could experience it, too. I just kept looking and I thought someone is going to come along and be my artist for this painting.”

About 10 months later, Oisten was attending Grace Church in Noblesville when he found his artist. Oisten watched as Jen Bubp, a member of the Worship Arts Council, painted on the stage.

“I got goose bumps up and down my back. I had a tear coming down my eye and my wife asked ‘what’s the deal?’” he said. “I say ‘see that lady there, that’s who I’ve been looking for.’”

So Oisten got in touch with the Carmel High School art teacher and he shared his story.

“I think it resonated with me because I had lost my father to cancer in December 2012,” Bubp said. “It touched my heart because I know that pain of letting someone you love go and trying to find the hope and the reassurance that death is not the end, it’s a temporary good-bye. When he shared his story, I was really moved.”

Bubp took Oisten’s pencil sketches and thoughts and created her own vision of his experience. Bubp said Oisten told her he enjoyed a little more like an abstract style and that fit her thinking for the painting.

“I thought good because I don’t know if a realism portrait would have done it justice,” Bubp said. “It took me three months of thinking about it and letting the work evolve.”

When he saw the painting, Oisten said, “I cried like a little baby. It was insane.”

She added the words El Olam, which means everlasting God.

“I just felt we were meant to meet and I was so happy to give him something tangible to look at because obviously that was one of the most meaningful times in his life,” Bubp said. “I told him your story is so powerful, you really need to shout it from the rooftops and give people hope.”