Friday, August 27, 2010


When Marco showed up, another in our line-up of surprise guests, something about him struck me early on. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it; neither could I tell if it meant trouble or blessing. At the least, it meant another leadership challenge. Marco was, well, a guy, and had a strong personality; how would he take to a woman leading? He was a high producer, always wanting more work to do, but his English was poor. How much energy did I now have to expend, working with a translator to train a non-artist to contribute to an art exhibit? What jobs could I give him?

The challenges evaporated in Marco’s humility. He never flinched when I gave him the most menial of tasks. It always seemed to work out that he was ready for the next job when I was ready to give him more instruction, and a translator was handy. And he disappeared when I needed him to, without me saying so. Because of his help, I was able to complete two pieces of artwork that might never have made the exhibit otherwise (one of which is the piece going to Rosella).

The first potential leadership clash came when we were informed that Marco would be preaching during the art exhibit. (Insert audible gasp here.) I objected immediately. This was the antithesis of an art exhibit; we couldn’t in good conscience integrate a sermon into an art show without undermining the power of the art to speak. “People will feel manipulated,” I pleaded. But Marco would not be moved; Pastor Giorgio had spoken.

I informed the artists, and the artists bristled. One suggested that we pray God strike Marco mute at the appointed hour! I suggested we let God handle how he wanted us to get around this, but pray we did!

On Saturday, the day of our first exhibit, after the torrential downpour that sent us scurrying into the arcades, Marco pulled me aside for a coffee. As we entered the coffee bar, Marco, with broken English and broken spirit, confessed with chagrin his lack of submission to my leadership. I could hardly see where he had done that; I believed he had been operating solely in obedience to his pastor, and told him so. He was understandably caught between two lines of authority; perhaps he had sinned interiorly, but I had seen no evidence of anything but a servant heart. And bottom line: we were here to serve the pastor and the local church.

Marco apologized; I assured him no offense had been taken. With the air cleared, and my respect for Marco continuing to rise, we threw back our high octane espresso, and headed back to the square.

And I don’t know if it was intentional, the rain, or forgetfulness, but Marco did not preach that day—or the next. At least, not overtly. His life was a testimony to me, as I am sure it is to many, and it was a privilege to meet and work with Marco.

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