Sunday, September 19, 2010
One huge ‘stone’ in the church is the relationship between artist and leader.
Unless the leader is an artist as well, or at least an arts advocate, there is frequently great strain and pain, with the artist usually being asked to put aside their gifts, complaints, and/or agenda, stop whining, and “Get on with it.” Artists can come arrogantly into the relationship and insist on certain ‘rights’; a lack of discipline and maturity earns them no allies, and undermines what we are trying to do. Relationships are strained to the point of breaking, and so a big part of arts ministry is moderating reconciliation between both parties. And as much as we are advocating for the artists, we are dedicated to challenging the artist to grow in maturity, integrity, grace, and servanthood.
One aspect of this whole mix is to educate leaders as to why the artistic personality operates in certain ways, and how potent a proper arts ministry can be.
Steve, a leader about as left brain as they come (by his own admission), sat next to Judika, an artist who works under him, through our SALT conference. While pleased that a non-artistic leader valued the arts enough to take the time to come, and pay the expenses, I had no idea of their relationship; was it good, bad, strained, or healthy?!
On Day 3, I learned. Steve gave a beautiful testimony as to the contribution Judika made to the team, and we smiled at his humility and grace. Before we could say anything, Judika piped up. “I need to defend my leaders,” she announced, in no uncertain terms. “You may think it’s all on Steve, but let me tell you how arrogant I was…” She gave a disarmingly honest appraisal of her own part in undermining the relationship, and how God had led her into a more humble posture, submitting to leadership that didn’t ‘get her’ and learning how to serve in spite of great misunderstanding. Eventually, both sides began to understand each other, and forge an effective working relationship.
In less than 10 minutes, we saw a stunning display of exactly what we had been trying to teach and encourage among our participants. We could have all gone home happy at the point. Judika and Steve are models of how to work together, arts or no arts: mutually honor, respect and submission to one another. Bravo!!!
Thursday, September 16, 2010
One of our more retiring artists, soft-spoken and very ‘British’, had difficulty speaking up when we were gathered as a large group; she was comfortable sharing one on one, or in our small group. Not thinking she had anything to contribute, or afraid of what others would think about what she said, she often kept quiet. But she wanted to conquer that fear, and asked for prayer.
On the last day, as testimonies began, she stood, sporting an “Art is Healthy” tee-shirt, and spoke eloquently of the effect of the week on her. Those of us who know her were astonished, and cheered the victory. Everyone affirmed her with an immediate gathering around her for prayer. I was smiling like a proud mother. I love it when ‘my’ artists reach up in faith to take hold of all that God has for them. Maybe Ellen will join us again, but especially, may Ellen join Jesus on every adventure He has for her.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Did I mention that sleeping at the home of a worthy person could involve sleeping on the floor?!
And so, when we were about to be literally de-bunked out of Isola, another worthy person—an Egyptian brother who also lived in Isola—offered us his home. This was no small gesture: our team now numbered…oh let’s say 16…I kind of lost track towards the end. I was so humbled by his act of generosity and spontaneity; we were extremely grateful for a quick and cheap solution, although I wondered immediately how many beds this offer included...
When we organize short term outreaches, we are completely dependent on the field to find accommodations for us. This could be a hostel, a guest house, or church floor (mercifully rare in my experience). To go into a strange place and look for a person of peace for a night’s lodging would be a challenge, to say the least, but the idea of finding one person, and staying in one place, is extremely appealing!
Missionaries in the States move from house to house as they report back to donors, friends and families. Most missionaries will confess to being extremely stretched to keep such a schedule, and extremely relieved to finally get back in their own beds. (We actually count how many beds we sleep in as we travel…a little touch of missionary nerdiness you can share with your friends.)
Can I confess to counting beds as soon as I arrived at our Egyptian brother’s house?
We found two available for our use, and one mattress. There was lots of floor space in an upstairs room, and two couches. We gave one bed to one couple. Men stayed downstairs, women hiked upstairs. Marco thought he would sleep in his car, but opted for a couch in the end. Upstairs, if we turned the mattress sideways, three of us women could fit. I wondered if I should be the sacrificial leader lamb, and take the floor, but decided if it came down to it, I would sleep in the van.
In the end, after taking the artwork to storage, I was one of the last to arrive home. By that time, half the team was already sprawled somewhere, and the rest had voted me onto the mattress (another good reason to be the last one to bed on outreach?!).
Can I say again how much I love my team?! They are ALL most worthy persons!
“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If a man of peace if there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house (Luke 10:5).
One of my guiding principles on short term outreaches is the Person of Peace principle, taken from the above verse. God impressed a new, similar verse on me while in Italy: “Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at this house until you leave.” (Matt. 10:11)
The principle intrigues me. Who is a person of peace? What is a person of peace? As I’ve learned over the years, it is a person of influence, someone who is key to the outreach, and key to reaching the community; this person receives you and what you have to say. Sometimes it’s a believer, sometimes not. But there is a powerful connection, a divine appointment, and the community is affected when it happens.
You may wonder how it happens, how you find that one person. I always go to a new city more than a little daunted, wondering how in the world we will find that one person of peace. If it was up to my resources, this could take months! But of course it’s not…
In Albania, I discovered the power of God to pinpoint one person in a city, no matter what size the city or how short the time frame. In Italy, even when we couldn’t get out into the city much because of the broken down van, God brought the person to us! (For the story of how God brought Antonella to us, read blog posts How Do You Spell Outreach?, E-1, and E-0 (sorry I can't quit)e figure out how to get the links in!; you will notice how unobtrusive the whole thing was, how easily it could have been missed.)
Antonella, our person of peace, became the inspiration for not only our exhibits, but for spunk in the face of adversity. When I think of the impossibility of finding any ‘worthy person’—a person of peace—in a city the size of L’Aquila, when its own citizens couldn’t find one another, when we were stranded for five days without a vehicle, I still shake my head.
And now that I am home, God reminds me of something else He taught me in Albania as well, in Jeremiah 5:1: “Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem, look around and consider, search through her squares. If you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, I will forgive this city.”
God is always seeming to look for just one person…
Friday, September 3, 2010
How does local ministry touch global ministry?
Last spring, one of my friends came to me for help on a serious fear issue in her life; my response was to propose that we go through Neil Anderson’s “Steps to Freedom in Christ” (www.ficm.org).
We invited two prayer partners, and asked a third person is she could provide childcare; all three quickly agreed.
Now, to get 5 OM-ers in the same room at the same time, at the height of outreach season, and to hear each one answer enthusiastically that they would be delighted to help, rather than a lukewarm “ok” or an exasperated “I just can’t right now, my plate is full”— trust me, it’s a minor miracle!
It got my attention how quickly and easily our little team came about; the last person I spoke with, after I mentioned my astonishment about this, suggested, “Maybe this is bigger than just one person…” Maybe...
When the appointed day came, we gathered in expectation. God did not disappoint. We saw His incredible power pinpoint with laser accuracy where the fear issue began, and the way out. With prayers and renunciations, our friend was set free from a life-long fear in a life-changing way. A passionate Latina, she began witnessing to many, of what God had done for her, and soon I was receiving requests for more help!
Meanwhile, another friend from my church, when she heard what I was up to, asked if I would be willing to help her; because another woman in our church, who she is mentoring, needed help.
This second woman is Center Director at the local Brain Balance Center in Peachtree City, which specializes in treatment for neuro-behavioral disorders, such as autism, ADHD, and Tourette’s Syndrome (www.brainbalancega.com). She is seeing remarkable success rates, but can’t break the 85-90% healing ratio; her conviction is that, because there is a spiritual stronghold that must be broken, prayer was needed. Could we help?
God stepped in on one occasion and miraculously healed one of the children she was working with. After that, many of the mothers coming with their children to the center asked for prayer. Could we begin ministering to and praying for these mothers? I agreed, and so did each of the four ladies who had been part of my friend’s deliverance from fear.
Travel schedules were beginning...we took a crowbar to our agendas and began figuring out what could be done, and when. We agreed that some of us would meet immediately with a family in crisis--the parents separated and on the brink of divorce. Because the family was from Gautemala, we recruited our Spanish-speaking friend to translate. Our friend at the Brain Balance Center would propose prayer for the family, and I would fly to Italy. I watched the emails flying from there, spotty internet connections notwithstanding!
Can you imagine my delight to learn in Italy that the mother had not only agreed to receive prayer, she agreed to receive Christ, and was now attending church with my Spanish friend. Wow!!!
Going from that email to dinner, I found myself sitting next to one Cheryl, a dancer from Australia, who I had met earlier in the day. As I bubbled over with my news, she looked at me and blinked.
“We have a son with autism,” she said.
Well now. Isn’t that just like God…we exchanged emails and I left the table shaking my head, wondering if I’d see Cheryl and her son one day at the Brain Balance Center in Peachtree City…
In the meantime, back in Tyrone, I'm playing musical agendas again with my ladies here, trying to find a date we can all meet to pick up the threads of Spring. Many moms are waiting for prayer....and new miracles await I hope!
Thursday, September 2, 2010
No news on the earthquakes, or from Italy, but I did find a site that gives info and it seems Italy has been having quite a number of earthquakes - all over the country - of varying intensity. So, will just keep monitoring the site, and waiting for news from the other side.
Thanks to everyone who prayed, and let's keep seeking the peace of the city!
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
I just received word from a friend that last night, L'Aquila had four good-sized earthquakes. My heart just dropped as I thought of those dear new friends I have made there, and have written about here.
I can't find any news on the internet, but found this on Facebook (courtesy of Joshua John Lawrence, who keeps a FB page on L'Aquila):
"The center of L'Aquila will be closed for the next 48 hours as a precaution. Two earthquakes just below 4.0 on the Richter scale were felt near Montereale. This is a safety measure but my heart still goes out to those brave souls who reopend stores and restaurants on the few accesible streets downtown."
After some time on my knees, I am writing for prayer...asking God for mercy. Will you join me?