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The Book of Jobes

From an article in Decision Magazine by BGEA

Faith Profile
Suffering Redeemed

A woman with physical disabilities overcomes hardship and inspires others to do the same.

On a cold afternoon in 2008, a masked intruder broke into Heidi Janz’ Ed- monton apartment.

“He was demanding money,” Hei- di says. “So I pointed at my purse on the sofa and yelled, ‘Take it!’”

Instead, the attacker covered her mouth and started stabbing her in the chest.

“I could feel myself slipping away.” Heidi recalls. “I thought it was the end. I committed my spirit to the Lord before I passed out.”

When Heidi came to, the attacker — Kenneth MacWatt, a man well known to police for attacking people with disabilities — had fled. Heidi lay helpless on the floor, covered in blood, until she was discovered by her elderly father. The wounds were so severe, Heidi needed two months to fully recover.

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A Message from the Artistic Director

As we step into our 11th season I think back to our very first season and what our vision and dreams were. Truth be told, my grand vision was to do one season of theatre without making a complete fool of myself and without maxing out my credit card. I did have a grander vision, but I was way too nervous to speak it publically and even in the privacy of my own mind I didn’t allow myself to linger there too long. It seemed far too outrageous…even cocky. That I, a 13 year banker, who’s only experience with theatre was playing the servant girl in a dinner theatre in the basement of the then very small Centre Street Church and excepting Oscars in my bedroom … that I would actually be able to run a legitimate theatre company. Absurd. It’s taken many years to dream that dream out loud. To step in and own that dream as reality. To realize that hundreds of people have auditioned to be on our stage and have worked building our sets and sewing our costumes and hanging our lights. That thousands of people have seen our stories and thousands of dollars have been donated to tell those stories. That we’ve been profiled and interviewed and reviewed on CBC, the Calgary Herald and Sun, City Light News, Shine FM, AM 1140, Theatre Alberta’s industry magazine, and Church and Art Network. We have hosted world premieres, we have partnered with artists from New York to LA from Toronto to Vancouver. We have exposed our community to theatre that has never been seen here before. We are generating conversations in the rehearsal halls, in the foyer of the Engineered Air Theatre and in the car rides home after shows that have never been had before. We are creating a safe place for artists to explore their vulnerable craft and their wobbly faith. For better or worse we are putting the final taboo on stage – God. We are changing culture. This has surpassed even my unspoken dreams.

I once heard the sage-of-our-time, Oprah, say how wonderful it is to actually be able to see your dream come to life…and then have to find a bigger one to dream. That’s where we are tonight. We are in need of bigger dreams. Between you and me…I’ve started to dream them. In between the grant writing, the fundraising, the cheque book balancing, the scheduling, the website updating, and the script reading; they are bubbling up.

I dream that artists of faith will be the leaders in their fields, that they will tell the best stories with their art and with their lives, that they will be the movers and shakers and creativity makers, that they will not be simply tolerated in their churches and in their artistic communities but that they will be embraced and honored for being the prophets of our time. I dream that the stories of our faith will saturate the landscape for a world desperate to connect with something bigger than themselves. I dream about a time where art where not simply be entertainment, a way to pass the time and escape, but instead will be a place to lean in and engage and be transformed. Along with those ethereals that we want to make tangible, I also dream about space. Space to create. Space to collaborate. Space to rehearse. Space to perform. Space to create community; uninhibited by giant rental costs and double time and a half labour invoices. Space where we could be generous to other arts organizations by sharing offices and sharing great ideas. Space where stopping in the middle of the day to pray is normal. Space where painters and playwrights and designers and dancers work and play together to make each other better. Space as big as our dreams. Space we can call our own…our home.

I also dream of Fire Exit being the connector of artists of faith across Canada. Where we gather regularly to inspire each other, to support each other, and to create together. That we are a hub of mentors and people being mentored. That our work is being seen not only in Calgary, but in Vancouver and Winnipeg and Three Hills. That we are a haven for the tired and uninspired to come and be renewed. That we are hope personified.

I am nervous to speak these dreams, like I am timid to pray these prayers… fear of looking foolish, of seeming naïve, of saying this is impossible and being proven right. I stand here tonight saying this is impossible…and only you can prove me wrong. Only you can manifest these dreams. Only you can force us to have to dream bigger dreams.

There are so many ways that you can do this…you can buy a membership tonight, you can get season tickets for your whole family, you can become a sponsor, you can give us your talent – if you own a truck, we need it. If you own a paint store, we need some. If you’re a caterer, we like to eat. If you have extra money, we’ll take it. And we’ll take it in many forms…you can write a chq tonight and put it in the envelope on our table. You can donate online from our website. In a few minutes you can increase your bid on that auction item you want. You can simply hand me cash. At any point. Whenever and wherever you see me.

Thank you for you generosity and for inspiring us to dream bigger dreams.
….Val