by Donna Lynn Davis
That was how I felt when I booked my first Gideon Media Arts Conference. After all, what do I know about making movies? Sure, I’ve written a few church dramas, directed them, and have written some stories—both short and long. But, movies? Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.
I read the Gideon website information front to back, and realized I’d missed the contests deadlines. Whew! I had nothing to submit anyway; no screenplays, no comic artwork, and I didn’t think they’d need my singing on any stage. But, researching the site began to open my eyes to possibilities; possibilities of how God could use this small town girl—well, old girl, to His glory.
I packed my bags and headed to the conference—prayers in heart, proverbial hat in hand—asking God to open the doors He wanted me to walk through. I thought I might have to knock a lot before any door would actually crack open a sliver, however, I was truly amazed when I got there to see there were no doors! Let me clarify: Every door was wide open, as the people at Gideon are different than any other venue for creative outlet. They are listening, willing, friendly, excited, accepting, helpful, encouraging people—a shock in today’s world.
The first person I met was Dr. Jayce O’Neal. I didn’t know who he was then, but he most graciously sat with me in the lobby and I was amazed when he asked what I was working on. He cared? Wow! He explained a few things and helped settle the butterflies. I was ready to move forward.
I chose my classes; a tough job, as there was so many great offerings. I can’t begin to tell how much I learned and grew in that few days. The lectures I attended, the movies I saw, the people I met were a rich experience. I’d like to share a few of my take-away moments with you: I saw Torry Martin tear up while teaching, sharing how grateful he was to God for blessing him in so many ways. I was encouraged by Todd Starnes in my private battle with weight; a subject he speaks to in one of his books. I viewed Not Today, a movie on sex trafficking in India; it made me weep. I was moved by Carol and Jim Anderson’s stage portrayal of Cory Ten Boom and the German soldier who had abused her, I witnessed conferees being encouraged and schooled as actors read their work and professionals critiqued them, and I saw a teen run to her dad, wrap her arms around his neck, and say, “Thanks for bringing me here Dad, I love you.”
I connected with first-timers just like me, and seasoned veterans, all answering the call of the Savior to their lives. As I sat in solitude one evening, I asked God what He wanted to do with my talent. I didn’t know before I came, but I was sure after I left that an old girl from a small town had something God could use. And with my life-long yearning for learning, I could step out and sing, well, maybe just shout my new song:
Start spreadin’ the news. Believin’ today.
I want to be a part of it, His Work, His Work…
I’m returning to Gideon this year. I’d like to be the encourager now; Come to Gideon. Whether you’ve got it all together, or it’s your first visit to the ‘big city’, thank God, you’ll never ever leave the same.