We were very blessed to be able to present The Story of Gomer at the Kentucky Correctional Institute for Women in Louisville, KY. It has been several years since I brought the show to a prison, mostly because I have been way too caught up in paying gigs.
A couple of months ago, I did the play at a small inner-city church in Covington, KY, and it was one of the hardest shows I have ever done. Out of hundreds of performances, it was the only time I have ever considered stopping the show right in the middle and going home. It seemed no one was listening. Kids screaming, people were coming and going, talking to each other over the pews, and just so much unrest that I could barely get my lines out.
After that performance, Satan tried to use the experience to discourage me. “Why do you even bother?” The voices whispered and taunted me. “No one cares. No one pays attention. All that you have sacrificed, and this is where you end up- broke and unappreciated, playing for an a tiny audience that doesn’t hear a word you say.”
I let it get to me. I really did. So much so that I sank into a dark depression.
I am never going to do this show again. Ever.
But God showed up, and through a friend’s podcast where my own words that she recorded ministered to me, and I found myself renewed by simply hearing about why I do what I do- bringing hope to the hopeless and speaking of God’s redeeming love to those who think they have gone to far. Gomer’s story is one worth telling to everyone who thinks they can never come home to God.
So, instead of cowering and giving up, I took the weapon out of Satan’s hands and turned it against him.
“Yup, you are right, I don’t get paid very much, and you know where I don’t get paid at all? you know where it actually costs me to go and minister- prison! That’s right- prison. So that’s where I am going. It’s a tough crowd there, and they seem not to listen, they seem not to care, but I know deep down they do listen and they do care, I just have to reach through the darkness to get to them. There will be unrest. There will be talking. But that is just because the play makes them uncomfortable since darkness wants to flee from the light, and what I am saying is hitting a nerve. So I am going to go do that play about Jesus, and I am going to tell my testimony, because that’s how we defeat you, Satan, by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony!”
I got up out of my bed that very moment and emailed the chaplain. He set up a date and we went with a team of prayer-warrior women, and we brought the word of God and the love of Christ to 50 inmates on August 6th, 2016.
The women laughed. They cheered. They applauded. And they cried.
They walked with me through the entire play.
One woman said she felt as though she was actually right up there on stage with me.
It’s an amazing thing to have a connection with an audience like that. Few performers ever achieve such a feat. It is truly a gift.
So perhaps as an actor, I have left behind the velvet curtains and beautiful stages. The dressing rooms with lighted mirrors and playbills with all of my accolades and attractive headshot photo. I don’t have costumers or make up people or flowers after a show.
But I do have the experience of using my talent to connect heart to heart with the most broken souls in the world, and walking with them towards a savior who holds out his arms to welcome them home to His heart.
Somehow I don’t think I will ever really understand the meaning of what I do until that final curtain call.