The recipients of Manifest’s most prestigious award this year used their acceptance speech to remind other creatives that living love helps maintain faithfulness to calling.
Rod and Zan Long receive the Gabe Reynaud Award for demonstrating excellence in faithful creativity. The couple share their creativity in ministry and production locally and internationally—as longtime leaders of ministries in the Kellyville Seventh-day Adventist Church and as board members of the One project.
The Longs received their award from Reynaud’s wife, Andi, during the Adventist Church in Australia’s Digital Discipleship Conference on July 21. They encouraged those attending “to love Jesus with all that you are and then some, to love people with all that you are and then some, to love the church—all of the church—with all that you are and then some.” What does this love look, sound and feel like? asked Zan, who presented the speech because Rod had just delivered a keynote. “It looks like choosing to stay and be a blessing, when you want to leave. It sounds genuinely thankful when you want to complain. It feels peaceful when everything else is stressed. This kind of love is truly creative because it takes what is not lovely and makes it just that.”
The speech also emphasised a waiting for love to lead. You will know when and how to respond because “you couldn’t imagine doing anything else. You find time, make time, because it is who you are in Jesus’ name.”
The Longs connected with others who had been “living in love with Jesus” at the 2012 One project gathering in Seattle (Washington, USA), a milestone in their journey of faith. They returned home “bursting with energy, new life and love for Jesus”. They wanted to share the experience with their local church and with the church in Australia. Led by the Long family, the first Australian gathering of the One project convened later that year, which led to eight more across Australia and two in New Zealand.
As well as its focus on the centrality of Jesus in the Adventist Church, the One project demonstrated excellence in production and presentation because “the subject matter deserves it”. Rod became Executive Director and Coordinator for the South Pacific and Zan, who noticed the absence of a program for children, TOP Kids Founder and Director.
“We have never experienced so much joy and exhaustion and joy and exhaustion being faithful to the gift God has given us,” said Zan. “The feeling of totally emptying yourself in serving and then finding at our age that there is abundant energy and joy for more. I love that. I know that that is not us, that is Jesus living in us.”
Zan ended the speech with this challenge: “Choose to be faithful to the creativity God has gifted to you. Share it, live it, love it. Live love again and again and again.”
The Gabe Reynaud Award
The award the Longs receive honours Gabe Reynaud, an Avondale College of Higher Education alumnus who became the Adventist Church’s first professionally trained film director, eventually becoming Senior Producer at the then Adventist Media Centre and pioneering a filmmaking unit at Avondale. Reynaud died in a motorbike accident in September 2000. His vision, according to brother Daniel: for the church to recognise the power of art, “not to preach so much [but] . . . to testify to [God’s] wonder and awe and mystery, and for artists to use their talents in all genres to testify to a God who is the embodiment of creativity.”
Previous recipients include artist Joanna Darby, academic, composer and writer Dr Robert Wolfgramm, the interactive, outdoor drama Road to Bethlehem, clown, storyteller and trainer Graeme Frauenfelder, entrepreneur and publisher Jeremy Dixon, children’s minister Pr Daron Pratt and singer/songwriter Melissa Otto.
Presented at Manifest’s creative arts festival between 2011 and 2015, the Gabe Reynaud Award is now part of the Digital Discipleship Conference.
Manifest is an Adventist Church in the South Pacific-led movement exploring, encouraging and celebrating faithful creativity.
Gabe Reynaud became the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s first professionally trained film director. His work as a faithful creative, including Keepers of the Flame, The Search, Digging Up the Past and Chasing Utopia, won a number of international awards. Read more at www.avondale.edu.au/manifest/gabereynaudaward.