Friday, November 10, 2017
ALTARS OF REMEMBRANCE
(From my column “Looking Forward and Glancing Back” in the SGT monthly newsletter, February, 1989)
When I sit down each month to write this article, I think of the title and ponder and pray. I seek God's leadership in deciding if this is the time for looking forward or glancing back. With all of the exciting things that are happening in our new building and with all the exciting plans for the future, it might seem to be a good time to let you look forward with us and dream a bit. However, at the moment, my heart is filled with the blessed memories of God's overwhelming goodness—of the years of blessing and miracles that have brought us to such a wonderful time. I walk through our beautiful building and my heart fills to overflowing. It is still hard for me to believe that it is ours. I pause often to silently praise God for such a miracle. And I also pray that we will never take God's blessings on this ministry for granted.
One of the interesting things that has struck me over the past couple of years as I have read through the Old Testament is how often God did such MIGHTY MIRACLES for the children of Israel and how often and quickly they seemed to forget. Perhaps that is why God would often have the people pile up stones and make an altar or place of remembrance—so they wouldn't forget. Yet it seems that the people did forget and soon fell away to worshiping other gods and/or complaining that Jehovah hadn't done anything for them. How ungrateful! How selfish! You would think those people would never forget miracles like pillars of fire, the parting of the Red Sea, the manna, water from rocks, the parting of the Jordan, the walls of Jericho, a hundred and thirty thousand Midianites destroyed by Gideon and three hundred men, etc. How could they forget?!
For me, one of the blessings of reading in the Old Testament is that the pattern of human nature is so easily discernable. We see how man tends to make the same mistakes over and over. And even if we learn from our mistakes and make changes, it seems that eventually we forget and return to our old ways. Yes, it seems that we never learn. But my prayer for Stained Glass Theatre is that we can beat the odds, that we will not be just like the children of Israel and soon forget all of the MIGHTY MIRACLES God has poured out on us—from the time we started until now. God has truly done some wonderful things in and for this ministry—things we should never forget or become "blasé" about.
I know that we don't pile stones into monuments any more, but if we did, we could fill our parking lot with stone reminders of God's grace upon us. That might not be practical today; however, we still need to be reminded from time to time of some of the exciting ways God has blessed us. So remember with me for a moment, and let's praise our Lord for His lovingkindness. Remember when:
—we had no building and no money and GOD touched the heart of a restaurant owner to let us begin our ministry using the basement of his restaurant RENT FREE—a miracle! We remember. Praise You, Father!
—we needed $500 to pay bills and open our next show and GOD touched a man and wife from Fort Leonard Wood to give us FIVE ONE HUNDRED DOLLAR BILLS—a miracle! We remember. Praise You, Father!
—we needed $1,000 for a new light board and GOD provided in JUST TWO WEEKS—a miracle! We remember. Praise You, Father!
There have been so many other needs met in ways that the hand of God is the only way to explain them. Yes, miracles—miracles that need to be remembered, never forgotten. And how can we ever forget our need for $60,000 to purchase our "Promised Land" debt free? HALLELUJAH! GOD DID IT! And we do remember! In our minds and in our hearts we pile up stones to remind us of Your goodness—Your miracles! Thank You, Father. Praise Your Holy Name, Jehovah!
COMING NEXT: AND THE ARMY OF THE LORD HOLDS FORTH!
Thank you, Larry Sneed, for your "beautiful prayer of the heart" prayed in 1985. It is still bearing fruit 32 years later!
Saturday, January 14, 2017
(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
(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.