Many deeply moved by unique nativity created by struggling artist in Ventura

VENTURA, Calif. (KABC) -- A struggling artist was being praised by community members for creating a unique nativity out of stone in Ventura.

Dozens of stones were seen perfectly stacked on the sand. It's become a sight viewed by millions online.

The humble artist, Juan Manuel Cisneros, whose hands stacked each one of the stones, explained how it happened.

"I had in my mind to make, like, a wall (but) with a circle in the middle," he said.

That wall was transformed into a manger after a friend suggested it looked like a nativity scene.

Cisneros was hugged by strangers, many of them Christians deeply moved by his work.

"God is in everything, even in the rocks...God became man -- it's what Christmas is about," said resident Ellen Murphy.

"Maybe God is using me to do something, to touch a lot people, you know. Maybe I'm just an instrument," the artist said.

Cisneros said Christmas is tough since he's been away from his family in Mexico for more than a decade.

At one time, he was homeless but found comfort in his stone art.

"I mean, I was still hungry, I was still all that situation, but I was feeling...kind of peaceful inside myself," Cisneros shared.

And although he is still struggling to find a job, he said it's not all about money.

"When I know that 13 million people have seen this picture ... that is better than $13 million," he said.

Cisneros said this is his Christmas gift to the community and many, like Holly Duell, say thank you.

"It's an art," she said. "It's all about the season. Thank you, lord, for giving us this man to do this."
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