For 700 years, the Waldensians lived in hiding, under persecution. They became known as the “Inconquerables”—though thousands were martyred, they remaining dedicated to the Scriptures, traveling out from the Pellice Valley into the cities of Italy and beyond to tell others about the truth of God’s word. A community of Waldensians continues worldwide to this day. Torre Pellici, where OM Italy has its offices, is the worldwide headquarters for the Waldensians.
Each afternoon, after having climbed about the Waldensian sites, we returned to Forterocca to drink coffee and begin our meetings. Sobered by the history of the valley, we were beginning to catch the vision OM Italy has for Forterocca. And in case we didn’t get it, the OM Italy team brought out one of their secret weapons: David.
You might remember David from one of my earlier posts; he had given us our first tour of Forterocca. We didn’t see much of David, as he was on vacation, but he showed up that Friday afternoon, after we had had a chance to soak up the history of the area, after we had worked through some logistical details about a training program, and after we had talked out team dynamics. Then David gave us the vision--eloquently. A former professional athlete, David has been inspired by the history of the valley. Here was a man who was the incarnation of a Waldensian man.
The Waldensians picked their best and their brightest to read, study and memorize the Scriptures, before going out to the continent to bring the Gospel. Could we find artists with the same passion and commitment? Ready to follow in the footsteps of the martyrs who carried God’s word out from this valley, even if it cost them everything?
The Waldensians studied for two years, at great cost and personal sacrifice, in the face of death and at the risk of martyrdom; could we find interns who would come at some financial cost, but negligible risk, to a very nice facility, for 90 days?
A mixed group, male and female, Western and non-Western? Would we raise an additional $10,000 to ensure scholarships for the non-Western participants who might not have the means to come?
Would we recruit a pastoral care couple to shepherd the group, as well as facilitators and guest lecturers?
What was our commitment as OM Arts?
Were we going to run a simple training program, head knowledge transmitted (maybe) to a bunch of spoiled Westerners, or would we be willing to live with these interns for 90 days, and share our very lives?
In return, David promised to “rip our legs out to make this work for you, but we've only got two."
Well, don’t mince words, David!!!
Three hours later, we emerged from our huddle, David’s challenges ringing in our ears, and went to dinner. I hardly knew how to respond when someone asked, “So, what do you think!?” “I don’t know,” I answered. “I think my life’s just been changed…again…”
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?” (Luke 14:18)
I was far from even understanding the cost, never mind counting it.
“In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” (vs. 33)
When I look at what the Waldensians gave up, and what I would give up, I feel like an infant disciple. All I can do is count and pray, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening…”