MEN WHO DREAM

I've never really understood whether God chooses men who dream or if He gives dreams to the men He chooses. I do know that much of what has been done for the glory of God was born of dreams.” ---Ron Boutwell, 1978

Saturday, January 14, 2017

OPENING NIGHT IN OUR “PROMISED LAND” #23

(From my column “Looking Forward and Glancing Back” in the SGT monthly newsletter, December, 1988.)

It was 7:20 p.m., ten minutes before curtain. A little group of actors and their director joined hands in a circle and bowed their heads for prayer in the upstairs makeup room. It was a scene or moment not unlike hundreds of other performance nights from the past five years. Yet this moment was different—special. Untold pain, struggle, heartache, fear, and doubt were wrapped up in that moment. Untold joy, blessing, happiness, reward, and victory were wrapped up in that moment. Untold personal sacrifices of time, finances, labor, and prayer were wrapped up in that moment. No, it was not an ordinary moment or night. It was November 25, 1988, and it was the night of the very first performance in our beautiful new building—OUR PROMISED LAND! GLORY! HALLELUJAH! WHAT A NIGHT! WHAT A MOMENT!


With heads bowed, the director tried to find words to express to the Lord our God the joy and gratefulness all were feeling in those moments. It was not easy. So many memories and emotions filled the minds. God had brought us through to the “Promised Land.” We were home—not some rented space. We were home—and it was beautiful and spacious. We were home—and it was debt free. Yes, we were HOME! Thank You, Father! Praise You, Lord!

That night, November 25, was special in so many ways. Not only was it the first performance in our new building, but it was also the first performance of a new play, CHRISTMAS AT CANDLELIGHT MISSION. It was a night that would re-unite two faithful actors and an actress (Pat Edmonds, Terry Beasley, and Denise Boutwell-Schriver) who had performed and struggled together through so many shows in those early days when we often played to five or ten people a night. “How perfect and wonderful of God,” I thought, “to bring together again these three faithful, self-sacrificing pioneers of the Stained Glass Theatre ministry for this, the first play in our new home.” This night would be different, however, from those first years of struggle. And it was a struggle, for it is very difficult to perform to five people and ninety-five empty seats—very humbling indeed. In those days, many actors came and went, but these three remained faithful through all the lean times. It had been two years since these three faithful ones had performed together, but tonight, God had brought them together again. And as I said, this night would be different. No empty theatre this night. God hadn’t brought us this far to let us down. And He didn’t. He filled the Theatre! Glory!

Yes, God did fill the Theatre that night. Those who had made reservations came. Those without reservations came. People who had never been to Stained Glass Theatre before came. In the light rain that began to fall at about seven, they came. At 7:15, we had a downpour, and still they came. It was wonderful. We had hoped to have a hundred on opening night; instead, we had 145. We had often wondered how long (six months, a year?) it would be before God would fill our new two-hundred-seat home. Praise God, He did it on the second night—TWO HUNDRED AND ONE! HALLELUJAH! THANK YOU, FATHER! Was it just to be that way for opening weekend? No. The next weekend—two hundred plus both Friday and Saturday! And as of this writing, the third weekend is sold out. GLORY! IT’S GREAT TO BE IN THE PROMISED LAND WITH GOD POURING OUT HIS BLESSING! Thank You, Father. Praise Your Holy Name, Jehovah!

[NOTE: One of the shows of the Season of Victory in the "Promised Land" was A Wall of Fire, written by John Lee Welton. That show is again in the lineup for the current Season of Adventure. You can see it at Stained Glass Theatre in Ozark, Missouri, from February 23 through March 25, 2017.]

COMING NEXT: ALTARS OF REMEMBRANCE

“. . . blessed memories of God’s overwhelming goodness . . .”

Thursday, April 14, 2016

WE HAVE CROSSED OVER THE JORDAN! WE ARE IN THE “PROMISED LAND” DEBT FREE! #22

(From my column “Looking Forward and Glancing Back” in the SGT monthly newsletter, November, 1988.)

Thank You, Father! We praise You for the Victory You have given us! May all that we do there be to and for YOUR Glory! Hallelujah!

Yes, friends, it is really true—we signed the papers and handed over a cashier’s check for $60,000 at 4:00 p.m. on October 31, 1988. It was indeed a glorious and memorable moment! We know, of course, that it was the Lord our God who made it all possible. However, we also know that the Lord used the generosity of so many of you, our faithful supporters, to work this mighty miracle. We will never be able to thank you enough! We could fill this newsletter and several more with stories of the sacrificial giving which touched us hundreds of times over the last fifteen months. (And I do hope to share some of those stories in the months ahead.) Support came from near and far—Springfield, Bolivar, West Plains, Nixa, Boonville, Columbia, and other towns in Missouri; and from Texas, Illinois, New Mexico, Iowa, and California. Support came from those who could give hundreds, and those who could give thousands; but it also came from those who could give tens and twenties and fifties; and also from some precious boys and girls who gave ones. We thank you all! May God bless each and every one!

Those final days of “countdown” were exciting times. I know that many of you were anxiously following the daily totals. I know that hundreds of you were praying for and with us that God would meet our needs and give us victory. And I know that all of you are rejoicing with us now and praising God for all He has done.

Since the victory is as much yours, our faithful and generous friends, as it is ours, let me share with you some of the key moments and events that took us across the Jordan and into the Promised Land. As I told you last month, on September the 20th we received an unbelievable matching grant of $8,500 from the Musgrave Foundation. That gift put us at $52,000 and was the beginning of the final march to the Jordan. October 31 had been set for the signing of papers. We had one month to raise the final $8,000 needed to put us over the top and to meet the deadline. We were committed—there was no turning back now, no delaying or postponing the date. We had to have the money. We began to spread the word through the newsletter and at the performances of SOMEBODY PLEASE MAKE ME LAUGH. The response was overwhelming. The checks, the cash, and the pledges began to come in. Exciting words of encouragement were heard everywhere and every day. All who had struggled, and hoped, and prayed with us for so long were now saying this is the time, you’ll make it, victory is at hand. I, too, had a peace that this was the time. It is true that many times over the last fifteen months I had my periods of doubt and discouragement, but not in those last days. It was going to happen. I knew it—God would not fail us.

We began the final week still needing $1800. On Sunday and Monday of that week, I received $750 from friends in Bolivar. I checked the mail on Tuesday morning—nothing. Then at four in the afternoon on Tuesday the phone rang. It was Jonathan Perry calling from the theatre. He was trying to be casual, but there was excitement in his voice. He said, “I just picked up the mail, and we got three checks.” “Oh, how much?” I asked. He then said, in an even greater effort to be casual, “One for $100, one for $150, and one for (pause) $1000.” GLORY! HALLELUJAH! THAT WAS IT—WE WERE OVER THE TOP! VICTORY! THANK YOU, LORD. PRAISE YOU, FATHER!

I told Jonathan to tell Terry to double check all the figures to be absolutely sure that we had it all. That night Terry called and affirmed that indeed we had it all—in fact, we were over by $65. I had been excited earlier when Jonathan had called, but now was the time for those quiet moments of praise. Terry and I talked a few moments. It had been a long year, and we had both felt the strain; and now it was time to rejoice, only it was hard to find the words to express what we were feeling. The words that finally brought the full emotion of that special time were simple, but they were words I’ll never forget. After a moment of silence, I said to Terry, “It’s done.” And he replied, “It’s done.” Like I said, simple words, but for us, words filled with all the struggles, pains, joys, and emotional highs and lows of fifteen months of trying to lead a little band of struggling actors and technicians to their “Promised Land.And at that moment we had the release to know—It was done! Thank You, Father. Praise Your Holy Name. Jehovah!

COMING NEXT: OPENING NIGHT IN OUR “PROMISED LAND”

Three faithful, self-sacrificing pioneers of the SGT ministry came together again to perform in a very special Christmas show.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

ANTICIPATION OF CROSSING THE JORDAN! #21

(From my column “Looking Forward and Glancing Back” in the SGT monthly newsletter, September, 1988.)

On August 29, Stained Glass Theatre hosted our annual “Appreciation Banquet.” What a grand evening it was! An air of excitement and anticipation seemed to flow from everyone present. Excitement for a time to pause and praise God for the many, many blessings of this past year, and to thank all the wonderful people who labored so many hours this past season, as well as those who supported us with their prayers, gifts, and attendance. Anticipation for the adventure of beginning a new season—our sixth, our Season of Victory!

The evening began with a great buffet—truly a delicious meal! As the feasting wound down and as some still nibbled at desserts or sipped tea or coffee, the lights dimmed and we were treated to a delightful trip down memory lane as we viewed “clips” from all the shows of the past season, skillfully and lovingly prepared by Jamie Wolfe from All Occasion Video. After the TV presentation, we were inspired and challenged by a wonderful speech from Charles Fuller, our honored guest. Thank you, Charles, for a job superbly done! You touched the hearts of many young and old “dreamers.” The evening concluded with the presentation of numerous gifts and tokens of appreciation—scholarships, certificates, SGT mugs, plaques, SGT key chains, and SGT “Lifetime” keys to the Theatre. Most everyone received something and that’s the way we intended it. We wanted to recognize all who had helped the SGT Ministry. Yes, it was a grand evening! Thank You, Father, for blessing us so richly with so many who love the work of SGT. Thank You, Lord, for all who sacrifice so much of their time, energy, and finances to serve you in this special way.

The banquet, a time of remembering, is over. It was a great time for “glancing back,” but now it’s time for “looking forward.” (Wasn’t that clever how I finally worked the title into an article?) The challenge of a new season lies ahead. There is much to be done. The wheels of the future are already set in motion—set work is being done, costumes are being made, rehearsals are in progress, and there is a general “gearing up” for the fall premiere of SOMEBODY PLEASE MAKE ME LAUGH. It’s going to be a tremendous production that will speak powerfully to teens and the problems they face. Plan now to bring a group.

Not only is the challenge of a new season upon us, but the challenge to complete the building fund effort as quickly as possible is also on our hearts. We need to move soon. The growth in the ministry God has given us will diminish soon without more space. Even now, people become frustrated and give up when they try several times and still can’t get tickets. Some are trying to get ahead of the game by booking tickets and dates for the entire season. Praise God for the enthusiastic response from our patrons, but we must soon provide more seating. God has shown us our “Promised Land.”

We must complete the task! We need your financial support and prayers! As of this writing, we only need $16,500 to have victory. The countdown is on! All is ready! We are anxious to occupy the land!

The response to our decision not to move until we had all the funds, thereby honoring our commitment not to go into debt, has been overwhelmingly in favor of the decision. Like us, all were disappointed that we couldn’t move in August, yet all were in agreement that we were doing the right thing. Your words of support and encouragement have been greatly appreciated. Thank you! Since we made the difficult decision not to move until all funds have been raised, we have had a complete peace that God would honor that decision. But we also know that we must now renew our efforts and move ahead quickly. God has held the door open for us to do that which He gave us to do, but we must not tarry! Time is important! The door may not always be open. Please help us if you can! We’re so close. An all-out effort by all who see the vision of the future of Stained Glass Theatre is needed. Together we can do it in the next few weeks and be in the new building in time for the second show of the season. Pray that God will touch many hearts to help us at this vital time. God has been so good to bring us this far. Thank You, Father. Praise Your Holy Name! Jehovah!

COMING NEXT: WE HAVE CROSSED OVER THE JORDAN! WE ARE IN THE “PROMISED LAND” DEBT FREE!
We signed the papers and handed over a cashier’s check for $60,000 at 4:00 p.m. on October 31, 1988. It was indeed a glorious and memorable moment!