Sands of time tell the Easter story

March 29, 2013

FINDLAY — Roger Powell’s annual Easter sand sculpture is more inspiration than perspiration, and in the 14 years he’s been doing this, the returns have been massive.

“Some of the stories I’ve received from people coming here will make you laugh. Some will make you cry. Some still bring me chills. Where is God? Where isn’t He? I see His hand every day in this,” said Roger Powell, artist and creator of the Easter sculpture, which this year is comprised of more than 340 tons of sand.

“We have Amish people come here. We have Mennonites. We have Red Hat ladies. We have Catholics and Baptists, Lutherans and Methodists, and we have a lot of people with no religion. We invite everyone to come,” Powell said.

The idea for the sand creation came to him in a dream.

“I literally woke up at 3 in the morning with this idea. It was overwhelming. I told my wife I needed to make a sand sculpture. She reminded me we’re not in Florida and we don’t live near a beach. She asked if I had been dreaming,” Powell said, chuckling.

But he persevered. “The next morning I called the mayor of Findlay, and he told me that if I take care of Christ, he’ll take care of the bureaucracy,” Powell said.

That first year he began the work on his own, in a volleyball court at a local park. “It was just three weeks after that dream that I had the sand shipped to the volleyball court,” Powell said. Admittedly, that first year he wondered a few times just what he’d gotten himself into.

“I just reminded myself that this isn’t about Roger Powell. I’m not a wacko telling people to come and get saved. I love the Lord, but I think I’m just being receptive in doing this. Trust me, I understand now about moving mountains because it was a mountain of sand out there,” Powell said.

Fast forward 14 years.

Powell now has a volunteer army helping him create the annual sculpture. Now, instead of being outdoors on a volleyball court, the sculpture is under roof at the Hancock County Fairgrounds. And every year, the Easter activities surrounding the sculpture increases.

“Thousands of people come to see this every year, but it’s not about the number coming. It’s not the sand, it’s the fellowship. This sand sculpture sits on common ground, and we’re all the same. It’s inspiring to me to meet the people who come here, and I am continually inspired,” Powell said.