Heartquake in L’Aquila
If you ask most of the residents of L'Aquila, Italy, about the earthquake that devastated their city in 2008, they will tell you of their grief and anger. But Antonella will say it was the day her life began. An OM ArtsLink team used her story to show others in the city that there is healing and hope in Jesus.
Antonella was a student asleep in her dorm when the earthquake struck. She jumped out of her bed and cowered under a table, crying out to God to save her. In those horrifying moments, she gave her life to Christ--a true “foxhole prayer” that was genuine. Miraculously, Antonella escaped even though the stairwell in her building collapsed, and several students died.
One year later, an OM ArtsLink team traveled to L'Aquila wanting to bring a message of healing, salvation and hope. A local pastor introduced them to Antonella whose joy and laughter were infectious. They began to focus in on her story, expressing it through their artistic talents. The city, as well as the people's hearts, needed rebuilding. Antonella was a compelling example of someone whose heart had been changed. Rather than succumbing to fear and blame following the earthquake, she had found her hope, strength and joy in Christ.
The arts team focused on that change in Antonella and produced 40 pieces of artwork that captured her story and called the city's people to examine their hearts. An open-air, circular gallery was created in the town square with the rubble, fencing and scaffolding lying around. In its center, a table simulating the one Antonella had cowered under, held brochures with her story, along with a stone sculpture of a cross, created from the rubble.
Hundreds of people filed through, reading Antonella's story or hearing it personally from her, studying the artwork, reading the artists' statements, talking with the team members, lingering, thinking, reflecting. Some responded by writing prayers on papers that represented bricks and posting them on a simulated brick wall which symbolized the rebuilding of the city's walls. Many stayed for long periods of time. There were countless conversations, and scores of Bibles and Christian books were given out to visitors. Antonella's story was distributed in 500 printed brochures--seeds of truth and hope given to people searching for peace and security. Pray that those who heard her story will be moved to seek Jesus themselves.