Last summer, DanceLink came to Forterocca and danced there and in Torino. They danced in the “Gates of Hell” piazza before its famous statue, turning their backs to it and “clearing the birds” (see Matt. 13:1-4, 18). (You can read about that adventure here.
In OM Arts, we like to follow King Jehoshaphat's example and send in the dancers for some praise and worship to 'clear the birds,' so other ministry can follow more effectively. See 2 Chron. 20.) So, following in Jehoshaphat's and DanceLink's footsteps, we went into Torino on Saturday to see the city, get a feel for the spiritual landscape there, and pray.
We started in the market—the world’s largest—where all the nations are represented, but primarily the two-thirds world. One can sense the darkness. Vendors are more like bonded slaves, coming to the city for work, soon forced to work to pay impossible goals. You can imagine the prostitution and sex trafficking. We pray on one corner, peeling tangerines.
Next we walk up to one of the ancient gates of the city, near the cathedral where the Shroud of Turin is displayed. Though no one will authenticate this relic, it persists as a lucrative money-maker. We pray outside the church, for the youth of the city, that they will not fall prey to the many prevailing ideologies of the city. Matthew then leads us to the National Museum of Cinema, to see its majestic architecture, pray for the media in Italy, and use its conveniently free toilets. We don’t have time to take the panoramic elevator up its 75 meters in 59 seconds, so I’ll just have to return to get that view—360 degrees worth! It is well after noon now, and the energy from those little tangerines has been used up for some time: we have been walking for two hours. Jill and Anna peel off to scope out our restaurant. We catch up with them near the student university area, and Iz fills me in on the bonded slavery here, where there are mostly Indian merchants selling scarves and jewelry. Blocks and blocks of scarves and jewelry…do we buy anything and help them earn a little money, or boycott the slave trade? No easy answers in a complex world.
We find our restaurant and cram our hungry selves into its tiny space. While munching on panini, pizza and kebabs, Anna call us to come outside for an ‘event’: a group of Pakistani men are lined up face to face in two rows in the middle of the street, chanting and dramatically beating their chests. We watch in fascination and prayer for several minutes, before it calms down, and they begin inching down the street, still chanting and beating themselves.
We follow them to within site of the satanic ‘cathedral’ but that is not our destination. We’re on our way to the “Gates of Hell.” Along the way, we are shown ‘access points’—a bit larger than manhole covers—to the underground world. Architecture is set up along occult Masonic lines. It is sobering to think about, but gives me great pleasure to know I am stomping under my heels the enemy whose head was crushed 2000 years ago.
We walk for another hour up the street, stopping for gelato, bathrooms, and/or coffee at two bars, making our way past shops, merchants, Christmas street vendors and monuments. The windows are beautifully decorated for the holidays. In spite of the prevalence of evil, this is a beautiful city, reminding more of a walk up a Paris boulevard than an Italian city. It even feels New York-ish, with its cosmopolitan pace and winter cold.
Finally we arrive at “The Gates of Hell” and collapse on park benches. We begin to pray. Jill suddenly marches away from us, turns her back on the evil-looking statue, and drawing herself up to her full 6’+ height (how tall are you anyway, Jill?!), begins to belt out “Joy to the World.” Wow! Way to go, Jill! We all join in, and I imagine the dark underworld squirming under our feet. Not even the police will go underground; they tolerate the darkness with the agreement that it will not be tolerated if it comes above ground. As if Evil would be so obedient… After more prayer, photos, and some banter with kids spitting water from the water fountain as far as they can, we head back to the van. We have been prayerwalking for several hours. The ride home is alternately quiet and talkative, front seat and back, with naps and contemplation, interrupted by the occasional Christmas carol.
And bed never felt so good…