Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Restoring the Ruins

As we transition from the SALT conference to Transform 2010, some snapshots of the last week…and day one of the new week about to begin…

“Pass through, pass through the gates…”—Isaiah 62:10

An Italian heatwave. A line of cars heads for the beaches where the Allies landed during World War II, and our SALT participants, travelers from eleven countries, set out by bus, car, taxi and train to return to their lives, or sightsee in Rome, before beginning Transform 2010. The Hotel Selene is bustling, filled with hundreds of OM-ers and guests. So many happy reunions, so many old and new friends connecting…it’s a joy to watch.

“Prepare the way for the people…”

The SALT conference was astonishing. After preparing for it, we sit back and now watch the Transform team prepare to receive their guests. Registration table, maps to orient, bottles of water, workshop sign up sheets, room registrations, followed by room swapping, glitches upon glitches, and squeals of delight as friends find each other. Soon we are all supporting lanyards with our nametags. Soon we are sitting in little huddles around the lobby catching up.

“Build up, build up the highway…”

Over three days of training with Colin Harbinson and the OM ARTS staff, SALT participants were filled to overflowing with teachings, case studies, powerpoints, interviews, networking, and resourcing. Participants were equipped with foundational teachings, case studies of successful arts ministry examples, a “Stone by Stone” DVD set (Dr. Harbinson’s foundational teaching on the arts), and a 2-GB flash drive, filled with all the teachings of the SALT, a book list, and an email list to enable further connection and networking.

“Remove the stones…”

Starving artists, one and all, starved for resources, affirmation and confidence; starved by fears and doubts; starved of desire and vision; yearning to fulfill the calling God has on their lives, and wondering how. Some struggled to even believe they could have a vision; what was the use? (Others had more vision than they could carry; connections and networking helped forge new, strengthening links.)

Small groups provided the safe setting for confession: removing stones of unbelief, doubt, pride and perfectionism from our hearts. Tears—tears of grief from artists coming back to art late in life, after long exile, feeling ‘robbed’ of their artistic calling; tears of joy from younger artists, finding their ‘tribe’—and receiving words of affirmation, validation and empowerment.

“Raise a banner for the nations…”

One morning, one of the worship leaders, discovering an inadequate keyboard that arrived for him, found a Steinway piano in the hotel lobby. After receiving permission from the hotel staff, he conscripted the piano into service, and praise was lifted in the lobby, to the astonishment of staff and guests (presumably the Buddha statue, sitting in a corner to our left).

Andrew Garvey-Williams (OM Ireland) created a painting that became our signature piece: “Restoring the Ruins.” His wife enacted a dramatic reading of Ezra 2: the exiles returning to rebuild the temple, weeping for joy, weeping with grief. And we are rebuilding the broken walls of Christian arts, our troupe weeping for joy to find compatriots, weeping with grief for the lost years.

A mosaic table, symbolic of our theme, slowly took shape through the week: a visible representation of what we were attempting to do: fitting together the whole Body, "joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective (proper) working (of each individual part) by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying (building up) of itself in love.”—Eph. 4:16 (NKJV/NASB). In our final session, it became our communion table, artists serving one another; leaders serving artists, artists serving leaders, colleagues serving colleagues, spouses serving spouses.

Wilted artists, revived, gave testimony as to how God had met them that week, and thanked us profusely for our blood, sweat and tears in laboring to achieve traction within the arts movement. A repeated theme was thankfulness for the discovery and knowledge of so many colleagues embedded in a movement larger than themselves, and a team of advocates back in Tyrone, GA. Sent back to their fields, they are now strengthened, equipped and encouraged, their imaginations fired with vision and desire.

Frank Fortunato, founder of Heart Sounds International, and elder statesman in OM Arts, gave a final commission: “There’s a book that came out that spoke about the love of fellowship from the standpoint of warfare. A very unusual setting to describe fellowship. The book, G.I. The American Soldier in World War II, by S.L.A. Marshall comments: "I hold it to be one of the simplest truths of war that the thing which enables an infantry solider to keep moving with his weapon is the near presence of a comrade." The author calls it a soldier’s “love of fellowship.”
After a closing prayer and blessing by Colin, we were dismissed.

After lunch, departure…goodbyes…endings…or beginnings?


  1. oh..wow! how amazing... is there anything taped from SALT? Looking forward to hearing more stories!!

  2. Pat, your words are inspiring and enlightening. I had no idea of the depth of the Christian arts movement, nor of the "broken walls" and the pain & grief of the artists. This has surely been a profoundly moving experience for all of you. It's exciting to contemplate what God will bring forth from each participant.

  3. wonderful! keep'em coming! love being there vicariously. You found some tiles and did people work on the table as they passed by-all wk long? ?