Flashback to “Ten Boom” | Premier Performance VT 2014

Christian stage play

Ten Boom the Musical

“the PERFECT LOVE story”

This wonderful Christian stage play, was presented for the very first time, May 2-3, 2014, by the students and faculty of Grace Christian School (GCS) in Bennington, Vermont. [See Cast photo]

Laurie McCaskill, a dedicated GCS instructor, called us in February 2014 to engage the play as an all-school event to present to the Tri-State community (VT/MA/NY). She hoped “to share the love of Christ through the powerful, often miraculous story of Dutch Holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom.” Laurie  had always loved Corrie ten Boom’s true story, and had gone online to find a “short play… something, by or about Corrie’s life.” She found our Website and called for more information.

Never, since we began working on this project, had I heard deeper conviction from anyone so hoping to reach others for Christ, and sure our musical was exactly what the Lord prescribed. Laurie’s deep faith, humility, and genuine heart for others, caused Donna and me to trust GCS to abbreviate the play a bit. Somehow, we had total peace they could do it, and without us coordinating that!

Ten Boom co-writer Donna Marquean Griggs and I, along with my husband Philip Beyer, were able to fly in to see two of the school’s three performances. Philip said he was “dumb-founded” after our trip: “If I had not been here to see this for myself, you would never have been able to describe what happened here… the ways God showed His hand in all of it!”

READ ON, and see if you don’t agree!

Miraculous Christian Theater

We soon realized, God’s hand was in this, from Laurie McCaskill’s first phone call, to our return to Nashville. This amazing experience confirmed for us and others that “Ten Boom the Musical” is meant to touch many lives!

Grace Christian School was established in the fall of 1997; the very same time Donna and I began writing the musical. That was just one of many “coincidences” we would discover there.

Over the previous two years, we had contacted many larger churches, Christian university Theater Arts departments, and certain community theaters. Even as the writers, we thought the play was “too big” for smaller venues. However, the Lord had something else (better) in mind to launch our play. Apparently, He wanted to show us what HE could do with a group of truly committed actors and believers in an unexpected, smaller setting. GCS was a total surprise!

Arriving in Bennington VT

We were given an overwhelming welcome, including large baskets in our motel rooms. Those were full of Vermont specialties (maple syrup, apples, candy “moose kisses”, etc.). The next day, Joyce Lloyd, school founder/administrator treated us to lunch, after giving us the grand tour of their community of teachers and students. The last stop on the tour would be to see the stage and set for the play. Very exciting moment!

Everyone greeted us with genuine excitement—“You’re the ones who wrote the musical!” Handshakes, hugs, thank you’s. It was amazing! With each step on the tour, Mrs. Lloyd told us some of the “miraculous” stories of how the school (a wonderfully-converted former Ramada Inn) had come together. Philip smilingly commented to Donna and me, “You two are rock stars!” The entire school—students, teachers, cast, administration people, parents, even people we ran into in shops downtown—made us feel like visiting celebrities. We were humbled and blessed!

Story #1 | Divine Supply

Mrs. Lloyd was educated as a chemistry professor. So, she was happy to discover, the room that had been a bar/lounge in the former Ramada was a perfect place for a chemistry lab. The Problem was, they had no equipment to teach chemistry; couldn’t afford it, at that point. But, within the first couple weeks, totally unsolicited, they had received several boxes filled with chemistry/lab equipment and supplies. Another school had heard GCS was starting up and thought they might need the equipment—no charge.

Stories like that had Donna, Philip and me on the verge of tears with each step; so strong was the Spirit in that place. We couldn’t wait to see what they were going to do with our play! Over the next two nights, we watched them perform to two packed houses. No professional actors or singers, but people of all ages giving their total heart to a creative, God-honoring performance WE DID NOT EXPECT!  It was stunning, to say the least!

The cast and crew of their presentation (about 60 people) was made up of GCS students, including foreign exchange students from Germany, Korea and China. Also in the cast were some faculty members, and students from the Northeastern Baptist University on the old Ramada’s second floor. They followed the directions we had written into the script, pretty closely, and it came together. Honestly, they had taken some creative license that  made us wish we had thought of some of those things ourselves. They put together surprisingly good sets, props and costumes; even their own media and sound effects. They had done some really nice promo, and worked as the most amazingly cohesive team, in one Spirit.

Laurie McCaskill did a great job directing the play, even as she faced personal challenges, at the time.

Story #2 | Divine Coincidence?

Sadly, Laurie’s mother was in the last stages of Lou Gehrig’s disease; but was being lovingly cared for by Laurie’s brother in nearby NY.

The week before the play was to go onstage, Laurie had called her brother and found him reading to their mother. When Laurie asked what he was reading, her brother said, “The Hiding Place, about Corrie ten Boom.” Laurie was amazed, as she had not told her brother about presenting our play, prior to that. They were both stunned! Laurie said, hearing that, she felt her decision to do the play had been totally confirmed.

Sunday morning May 4, as Philip and I waited to board our plane to go home, Laurie texted me. Her mother had “died peacefully at 10:30pm Saturday night, just as last night’s final performance ended.”  Laurie texted further, “Mama’s gone home to be with Jesus and Corrie.”

More Absolutely Divine Stories

  • A lovely young German girl, a foreign exchange student, did a fine job of portraying a Nazi guard. We were not allowed to take photos of her in that role, as her sponsors back in Germany might not understand her taking that risk. But, she insisted on playing the part, and protected herself to some degree. For her costume, she wore the red armband inside-out so it wouldn’t show the swastika. She certainly didn’t let it hinder her performance. When she shouted in German, “ALLE NASEN GEGEN MAUER!  EVERY NOSE TO THE WALL,” the whole audience came to attention!  Because of her affiliation with GCS, she became a Christian.
  • Then there was the Korean boy, also a foreign exchange student, who spoke almost no English. He took on the singing role of a German Nazi youth named “Otto” with a vengeance, so to speak. The young actor’s brother, who also had a lead role, spoke better English and had taught his brother the meaning of his lines. Our Korean “Otto” had memorized the English words so he could be in the play. He did a GREAT job… what a trooper!
  • One young actor was so dedicated to his role as a Nazi captain, he hand-made his own, authentic-looking uniform.
  • At one point, we visited an art & crafts store called Fiddlehead in downtown Bennington. We met a likeable young man who worked there, who was also a former news reporter. He became very interested in our visit to present our play, and he interviewed/ photographed Donna and me for the store’s Website and Facebook page, to help promote the event. Donna and I were able to share our stories with him; I gave him a copy of my book, and we invited him to the play. Before we left the store, he told us he was actually Jewish. He said, “I went through the bar mitzvah, the whole nine yards, but I no longer believe in all that God stuff.” Still, when Donna went back the next day to buy a gift, he asked to hear more about her faith, about Corrie, etc. We’re praying for him to know his Messiah, Jesus!!

Don’t Doubt the Reality of Divine Appointments

There were what we would call other “divine” appointments and uncanny “coincidences” that made our Vermont trip an amazing experience! Moreover, we know now, the Lord is in this musical project, and we’re encouraged to go forward. More than ever, we’re happy to wait totally on His timing and certainly His choice of venues!

The Bennington newspaper sent two reporters to GCS to interview Donna and me that first day. Funny thing—we picked up the paper at breakfast the next morning and began looking for the article, expecting it would be in the BACK pages. We all laughed when Philip turned the paper over and saw that the story took up the bottom third of the FRONT page. We hadn’t expected THAT either!

Everything—every bit of timing for the entire trip, was mind-boggling, including Donna’s iffy “stand-by” return flights to Ft Worth, Texas. It was all she had been able to book, but had her set to depart Albany NY airport some FIVE HOURS LATER than Philip’s and my flight to Nashville. Long stand-by list, yet Donna was able to change her flight back to Texas, at the last minute.  She departed Albany not only near the same time we did, but landed in Dallas at the exact time Philip and I landed back in Nashville.

We came home with a new commitment, and made some strategic tweaks to the script. Laurie McCaskill’s heart for Corrie ten Boom, and a cast of committed young actors in Vermont, made us more sure of how “ten Boom” should be presented. Also, it made us more confident of our original concept.

Exciting New Resolve Back Home

On our return home, we revamped the play’s ending, adding a new song, “Imagine/Perfect Love (medley),” making it much more powerful. Actually, it was more in keeping with the integrity of Corrie’s remarkable true life story. We also eliminated a few characters and condensed the dialogue some.

“Ten Boom the Musical” has been performed in other places now, but that first-ever production will always be a special memory for Donna and me!

We look forward to seeing what the Lord is going to do with “ten Boom the Musical” in the future, and pray many more churches and venues will see the value of performing it!

We pray that this example of God’s involvement in our work will encourage others to know and believe; He is always watching, ever present—He cares about our lives, our work in Him, even in the small details. He does direct our paths.  In Him, ALL things are possible!

You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble
And surround me with songs of deliverance.
Psalm 32:7

The Grand Pixel | Our Earthly Home

“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known,” wrote Dr. Carl Sagan, American astronomer, scientist, author, and self-proclaimed atheist, regarding our universe.  He was closer to the truth than he could know then!

In 1977, when the Voyager 1 space probe made its journey toward the outer reaches of our solar system, Dr. Carl Sagan and other scientists prompted NASA to turn the probe’s camera around, so it could photograph what it was leaving behind.

Witnessing our vast star system and planet Earth fading into the distance, Dr. Sagan would write a book titled Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, believing Earth to be only a mere “pixel” in the universe.

The following is an excerpt from his book:

“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every ‘superstar,’ every ‘supreme leader,’ every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there, on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark.  In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. To me,” wrote Sagan, “it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

Corrie ten Boom | Her thoughts about God’s “pale blue dot”

It would have saddened Corrie ten Boom to hear Dr. Sagan say, “There is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.”  For Corrie, having met her Savior at only five years of age, Help had already come.  I believe Corrie would have kindly assured Dr. Sagan that, “God loves you, and wants to share with you His knowledge of the universe He made. Wonders beyond anything you have yet imagined!”

Having survived the WW2 Holocaust and three concentration camps, Corrie ten Boom—a Dutch watchmaker who, along with her family, was arrested for hiding hundreds of Jews from the Nazis—spent the next four decades of her life telling thousands about her experiences. Mainly, she shared about her faith in God, and the miracles that helped her and others during that dark time. “Faith sees the invisible, believes the unbelievable, and receives the impossible,” she said. “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”  Hers was a message of hope and assurance.

Even amid the dark horrors of the prison camps, Corrie was able to tell others, “In darkness God’s truth shines most clear.” Surely, that would also be true in the darkest reaches of space!

Without God, Hearts grow cold

It was obviously important to Dr. Sagan that people “deal more kindly with one another,” a sentiment most people would agree with; especially Jesus, who entreated his followers to “Love one another.”  [1]

Sadly, the wisdom of scripture is more and more ignored in our world. Yet, it forewarned about these times we live in, “Because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.” Corrie experienced those places where the coldest of hearts had learned more to hate, than to be kind.

God knows the human hearts he made with such care; and what happens when we choose not to believe Him. God IS love, and without His guidance, our world has only become more divided; more dangerous.

Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsie spoke of God’s love with their fellow prisoners, that they might find strength and courage facing death at the hands of the Nazis. In the dim light of the barracks, they read that Jesus Christ was God in human form on Earth [2]; that they could know and trust Him with their very lives, even there. “For by Him, all things were created that are in heaven and on Earth, visible and invisible,” they read, “whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.” [3]

Scientific Research | Honest to God?

Corrie might have wondered, how an honest study of the precision of our world could overlook that possibility?

Is there anything on this “pale blue dot” that was not conceived, designed and constructed by some intellect?  Shouldn’t scientific research sift all possibilities before coming to conclusions?

How could such research dismiss the wisdom in that ancient Book that has endured for eons, outlasted civilizations, and been attested to by so many millions of changed lives? Is our planet Earth really just “a lonely speck of dust” in the universe?

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth,” [5] the Bible tells us.  And “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork.” [6]  Are we not awed by all of it, even as Dr. Sagan was?

I know from my own encounter with the Lord in 1984, that God does indeed “come to rescue us from ourselves.” I, and so many others have found victory over our broken lives, here on this grand and privileged planet!

What is Man that You are Mindful of Him

For all of Dr. Carl Sagan’s research into extraterrestrial matters, I’d like to think that, after all, he didn’t miss the main truth about this pixel we call home… Earth was purposely designed by a gracious God, to sustain life; specifically, human life, male and female, who were created in His image.

Night after night in Ravensbrück concentration camp, Barracks 28, Corrie and Betsie ten Boom shared about God’s gifts and promises to us, from one precious small Bible.

King David had once inquired of the Lord, “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained—What is man that You are mindful of him?[9]

In so immense a universe, some believe we mere mortals are alone, insignificant.  But, GOD LOVES US! Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”  Is that not amazing! [10]  Jesus Christ, God on Earth in the flesh, [11] told us, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no one comes to the Father but through Me.” [12]

Only a sovereign, creator God could say that. Only God, through Jesus Christ—Y’shuah, the Messiah—did!

Voyager 1 | A Message for the Cosmos

The Voyager 1 space probe was launched from Earth, September 5, 1977, forty years ago. NASA will continue for another ten years to monitor its journey through space, traveling at 38,610 mph. So incredibly immeasurable is God’s universe that scientists calculate it would take another 70,000 years for V-1 to reach Alpha Centauri, the nearest star other than our sun. That’s a distance of approximately 4.3 light years, or about 25 trillion miles from Earth.

Wondrously, it only takes a moment, right here on Earth, to eternally connect with our Creator God, by faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.

The Voyager 1 and 2 spacecrafts were sent with a greeting from Earth, to any form of life that might be encountered. The message is carried by a golden phonograph record; a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk containing sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth. The contents of the disk were selected for NASA by a committee chaired by Dr. Carl Sagan while at Cornell University. He and his associates assembled 115 images and a variety of natural sounds. To this they added musical selections from different cultures and eras, and spoken greetings from Earth-people in fifty-five languages.  “The spacecraft will be encountered and the record played, only if there are advanced space-faring civilizations in interstellar space.” – Carl Sagan

Sadly, Voyager’s recorded message did not include any hope-inspiring passages from the Bible, or any other faith-based writings and majestic hymns of faith.

A Lonely Message to Something waiting to be known

Will Voyager 1 just continue moving through the darkness of space, where only God is likely to hear its lonely message? Perhaps the Lord would receive the message as a desperate call for Help, a prayer even, to that “something incredible that is waiting to be known.” God answers prayer!

By now, Dr. Carl Sagan knows that the Answer to all his research was right there, all around him. He knows that only an almighty God could create so unfathomably vast a universe with such precision and beauty. That only man’s poor choices made any of it ugly. By now, he knows that God so loved him personally, and us, that he placed us on one perfect “pale blue dot” in the immense space of His love and grace, that we might find Him and believe. He’s waiting to be known by every soul on planet Earth.

As Dr. Sagan often said, “This is the only world known to harbor life… the only home we’ve ever known.”

Much more than that, Earth is where God’s Love took the punishment for all our sins, our human failings, on a rugged cross—past, present and future—that believing His sacrifice for us, we might share in His eternal home forever.

For each of us, it begins with faith, here on this perfect, privileged, grand pixel in space—our Earthly home.

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