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Phantom of the Opera Goes to Church

the-phantom-goes-to-churchSince Donna Griggs and I began writing the “Ten Boom” project, friends have been great to recommend certain venues to contact. They named various churches, Christian universities, and theater groups. Also,  community playhouses they thought would “love to present Corrie ten Boom’s powerful story, especially with the music.”

However, as we began making contacts, we discovered something different.

 

Many church drama ministries preferred to present some better-known Broadway musicals as a way of “reaching out to unbelievers.” Some quoted 1 Corinthians 9:22, as to the “WHY” of their theatrical ministries. It seems, they just hope to “get them in the door first.”

A few thought presenting original plays (like ours) might be “Too Jesus-y.” After all, they explained, “Some people come to church just needing encouragement.”

Paul wrote that 1 Corinthians 9:22 verse… “I have become all things to all people that by all means I might save some.”  But, of course, his whole heart was, that all people should come to saving faith in Christ Jesus. He told of the peace and hope found in Him, not just a momentary distraction.

Montage of Broadway Musicals

A few years ago, a friend suggested we contact a certain music director at a large area church here. We were enthusiastically invited to see a special montage of Broadway musicals they were presenting.  We were curious and accepted the invitation.  After all, we also love good theater!

When we arrived, the church was nearly filled to capacity, and the spirited fellowship seemed to hint at a revival of sorts. The Broadway “montage” unfolded with scenes from four entertaining (if not really faith-lifting) musicals.  Finally, a scene from the fifth musical began. Lights were dimmed in the large auditorium, as probably the most familiar of all overtures began, dramatically. Loud gasps mixed with cheers, especially from the young people there, filled the auditorium.

Suddenly, our host, the music director, took to the stage dressed in black, masked in the role of The Phantom of the Opera.  The church erupted!  To be sure, he had the voice, and did a convincing job of portraying the dark Phantom. Entertaining, yes… but a purveyor of peace and hope!?

After the performance, the young director told us he had “always wanted to play that lead role.”  He “loved the music” and now was able to “kill two birds with one stone.”  After all, shouldn’t becoming all things to all people that by all means I might save some apply here, too? Hmm!

Let me think…

The Phantom character is an unforgiving, vengeful, enraged, hate-filled figure. He goes to great lengths to seduce a young virgin girl, confusing and twisting her mind through dark, lustful deception. He hopes to share his dank, be-candled underground world, and together find love, peace and even joy. Happily ever after, right?  By the way, he also terrorized and murdered several people in his pursuit of her. Most notably, causing a massive chandelier to plummet down on many!

Yes, I’ve seen the Broadway touring performance, even the spectacularly-produced film, at one point.  But, one thing I’ve noted about “The Phantom of the Opera” that would seem to disqualify it from a Church outreach program. It has a mesmerizing appeal to many theater goers. Certain young women are captivated by the tragic (“he just needs love and I can fix that”) character. Many think it a romantic story, as the Phantom beguiles the leading lady (and, in this case, much of the church). Surely such lyrics as, “You can’t resist, the Phantom of the opera is there inside your mind,” give way to some kind of ministry!? Uh… maybe NOT!

As the talented, no doubt well-meaning, young music director finished singing the Phantom’s sad, seductive song… the (mostly) young girls in the church screamed and cheered.  Captivated… enraptured!?

What Are We Teaching Our Youth?

Is this what we want for our youth, or ourselves?  Do we not get way too much of that from our more and more secular culture now?  Proverbs 14:12 says,“There is a way that seems right to a [person], but the end is destruction.”.

When someone has been sifted by whatever life has thrown at them, even of their own doing, and they finally walk into a church seeking truth they haven’t found in the world… as they come needing peace and hope, not just another ‘Band-aid’… isn’t it our Commission as the Church to help them find that hope in Christ Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and the Life… the One we say we believe?

Donna and I wrote “Ten Boom the Musical” to share the life-inspiring, true story of an extraordinary woman who found victory for herself and others despite the darkness of the Nazi Holocaust.  Who would argue that evil is alive and thriving in this world?  It seemed to us, the example of a real-life hero, someone with deep faith, personal integrity and courage is a more compelling outreach for our youth or anyone else.

But, lest we forget the Phantom…

Should even the darkest of “phantoms” (and there are many of those out there these days) become weary of their ways, and come to the Church to find that peace, hope and genuine concern for their lives… what will we offer them that will prove to make the difference?

We would love to hear from you as you consider presenting this uplifting, musical telling of Corrie ten Boom’s powerful true story, “Ten Boom the Musical.” She overcame the real phantom, even through the Nazi Holocaust.

 

[Ten Boom the Musical shares the true and powerful story of Corrie ten Boom. To present this musical at your church or venue, contact us at 615-425-2652, 615-300-8591, or email us at susanmb@tenboomthemusical.com]

 

Corrie ten Boom and the Tennessee Vols

corrie-ten-boom-and-tennessee-volsI think Corrie ten Boom might have appreciated American college football, especially the Tennessee Vols!  She loved and worked with youth, and she was well-acquainted with hard work, discipline, coordination and team work, given her early experiences and later profound ministry to others.

Last Saturday night, I enjoyed watching my husband watch college football!

 

Philip can take or leave the pro’s, he says, but he loves seeing young people at these schools. Loves all the color, energy and excitement that goes with them sharing the best years of their youth together.

The Tennessee Vols football team had lost to the Florida Gators for the past eleven years, and Philip and I looked forward to cheering “our team” on to victory in this latest matchup. In our (also) eleven years of marriage, Philip has taught me a lot about football and the strategy of the game. I’ve learned to really enjoy football. So, popcorn popped, pizza in mind, we snuggled on the couch to enjoy the match.

Sad to say, watching the first half of the September 24th game was less than inspiring, with Tennessee dropping the ball six times, and fans in the bleachers looking as if the Rapture had happened, and they had missed it. At the half, the score was Florida 21, Vols 0.

It made me think how… as we run our personal “race” in life… it often happens that, when things seem to be going “south” (no pun intended), we give up as if its game-over, before we wait to see the final score.

Philip was disappointed, “How do you drop six balls that even I could have caught?”

“Well, the one thing we haven’t done is prayed!” I said, not trying to sound pious. He smiled, “It’s a football game!!”

“You have not, because you ask not, somebody said somewhere… in ALL things!” Hmmm! I prayed!

So what happened? If the Tennessee Vols team had left the field at the half looking down in the mouth, they bounded out of the locker room with new resolve. In fact, you might have thought it was a whole new team… like maybe Alabama had donned the Vols uniforms and hit the field!?

But, no… play after determined play, the Vols fought the good fight to claim a 38 to 28 victory over their long-undefeated Florida foe. Odd thing was, Florida… the team that could do no wrong in the first half, seemed to be unable to move the ball in the second half.

Philip smiled again about my prayer, “Really?” But, he had that high-five look all over his face.

For me, watching the explosion of cheers and tears on the faces of 100,000 Tennessee fans, then seeing them, arms linked, swaying to the strains of “The Tennessee Waltz” was a touching moment in time for those of us who hoped for Tennessee’s victory. I thought, “Would that so many would gather together to cheer the One who laid down His life to allow us the greatest victory of all… eternal victory!”

Corrie ten Boom’s true life story is a lesson in victorious living! Life well lived… love of family and others… faith in the One she had learned was trustworthy always… ups and downs, but never taking her eyes off the goal… deep personal assurance, even in the face of the fiercest enemy in world history. As I said earlier, I think Corrie might have liked American college football!

Our hope is, as the next generations live out their lives… dreaming their dreams, even if their world might seem at the point of “game-over”… that they will not let negative input, “political correctness,” or anything else rob them of Truth, and the most important goal possible for their lives: eternal victory in Jesus Christ. “For with God nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:37).

 

[Ten Boom the Musical shares the true and powerful story of Corrie ten Boom. To present this musical at your church or venue, contact us at 615-425-2652, 615-300-8591, or email us at susanmb@tenboomthemusical.com]

Gramma Jama | Corrie’s Work With Youth

gramma-jamma-party“Gramma Jama” parties… a great way to make lasting memories with your family!

Did you know Corrie ten Boom spent many years organizing Boys and Girls Clubs, even clubs for young servicemen and women, during the worst days of World War 2?

Here was a single woman who gave much of her time and herself, encouraging and teaching young people in her hometown—Haarlem, Holland.

What an extraordinary person she was, who always surrounded herself with loving family and friends, making wonderful memories that, as she later said, “would hold us like an anchor in the storm when the time came for us to walk into hell itself!”

I believe it’s why Corrie ten Boom maintained a giving and joyful spirit, even as the Nazis took over her homeland, and she and her family were arrested for hiding 800 Jewish people who were being hunted for extermination then.  You wonder, could that happen again?  Could a powerful political force take over the lives of so many others like that again?

Corrie ten Boom never married, and never had children of her own, yet she took time to make memories for, and speak into the lives of many of them then, during the most important years of their lives and one of the scariest times in world history for people of any age.

Honestly, many of the memories I had made, raising my three children (having spent many of those years on the road performing and thinking I was affording a better life for us), were that I had not really been at home enough to make the most important impact on their lives.  Years later, coming to faith in Jesus Christ, it became a priority for me to be near my children, if they would want that now, and especially to get to know their children.  I wanted to make new memories that might carry me and any of them through the years ahead.  Maybe even through events like Corrie and her family had endured, if it ever came to that!

So here’s an idea, for those who have young people to love, that you want to impact positively:

“Gramma Suzna” (that’s what the first of many grandchildren had called me) was having trouble finding time to keep up with all of them.  Being a modern grandmother—working full-time with my business-owner husband; a busy writing schedule of my own, managing our home, and a seeming million other details needing attention—it seemed impossible to coordinate with other family members’ schedules!

But, I know now, more than ever, good family memories are SO very important!  Children grow up way too fast, and they’re gone.  So, years ago “Gramma Suzna” had to come up with a plan, while the children were smaller, not so mobile themselves, and still interested in what “Gramma” was about.

“YESSSSS! I know what I’ll do,” I thought.  “How about planning a wonderful time for ALL the grandchildren to come to the house and take part in a special day together… no, TWO days!”  Sisters, brothers and cousins all together for an overnight stay… what used to be called a pajama party.

“Yes, that’s IT!” We would call it a GRAMMA JAMA party, and make some memories together!  After all, how hard could it be to bring four, six… oh dear… how many of these little people could I handle by myself!?  What would Corrie do?

If you’re thinking to throw your own “Gramma Jama” parties, here’s how it went for me:

Now, let’s see… First, we need to coordinate everyone’s schedules for a specific weekend, and send out invitations to each child (in care of their parents, of course).   How about they come on a Friday, about 5:00 pm, for about 24 hours of fun together?

Planning “Gramma Jamma” – What to do?  Make a list… crafts, games, music, picnic, trip to zoo, aquarium, maybe the beach, a boat ride?  How about we bake and decorate cookies or candy or pumpkins?

How about FOOD!  Friday night:  Everyone loves Pizza, sodas, popcorn, junk food?  But, then I thought about healthier munchies their parents might approve:  maybe veggy burgers on wheat buns with yummy bean sprouts, slices of cucumber and tomatoes; sweet potato fries, and non-fat yogurt for dessert topped with slices of kiwi?  Sounds like something I would eat, alone, while my grandchildren rolled their eyes.  Nahhh!  It’s just for one or two nights, so…

Pizza AND frankfurters stuffed with mashed potatoes, topped with cheddar cheese, Nacho chips, salsa, and fudge brownies with ice cream.  Now we’re talking!  Saturday breakfast:  how about waffles with strawberry syrup and slices, ringed high with whipped cream smiley faces, with bacon and orange juice.  Later, picnic lunch somewhere… yep, more planning to do!  Just how much can you cram into a 24-hour “Gramma Jama” party?

What should they bring with them?  They’ll stay overnight, so do we have enough beds for them all?  No, that’s no fun… they’ll want to be together in one big room… so SLEEPING BAGS or blankets.  And PILLOWS. Yes, lots of pillows!  PILLOW FIGHT!!!”

I couldn’t wait then to send out special invitations to my grandchildren, to “COME, enjoy a special time with all your sisters, brothers and cousins!”  We made “Gramma Jama” memories for the next few years after that.

I think now about Corrie ten Boom and the boys and girls clubs she organized those years before the War.  Were they all just about food, family and fun fellowship?  That was probably a great part of it, but I know from reading Corrie’s heart in her books, that she also took quality time to read to them and teach them about the most important message she could speak into their lives… about the God who loves them SO much, the importance of getting to know and trust Him, and the power of prayer that would get them through the best and even the hardest events of their lives.

How about making your own “Gramma Jama” memories!?

[Pictured above: Tarah, Olivia, Autumn, Gramma, Amber, Rebekah and Ryan]

[Ten Boom the Musical shares the true and powerful story of Corrie ten Boom. To present this musical at your church or venue, contact us at 615-425-2652, 615-300-8591, or email us at susanmb@tenboomthemusical.com]

The Faith of Corrie ten Boom – By Jeanne Doyon

[We recently found this article by Crosswalk.com contributor, Jeanne Doyon, that shares her personal insights, regarding the amazing faith of Dutch holocaust survivor and Christian evangelist, Corrie ten Boom. We pray this reprint has the blessing of Jeanne Doyan, and will bless others on her and our behalf   …Susan Meredith Beyer & Donna Marquean Griggs, co-writers, “Ten Boom the Musical”]

Corrie ten Boom faithCorrie (Cornelia) ten Boom is one of my heroes of the faith.  She was the daughter of a Dutch watchmaker living in Holland during WWII. She and her family hid Jews in their home to protect them from being sent to the prison camps. One day the Nazi officers arrested Corrie and her family for hiding Jewish people in their home and they were sent to prison. Corrie and her sister Betsie were eventually sent to the Ravensbruck death camp. Corrie is the only one of her family that survived, and her story is written in her book called “The Hiding Place.”

What I love most about Corrie is her simple wisdom and devotion to the Lord. She endured such evil, including seeing her family die in the horrid camp conditions. Yet she radiates with the light of God’s love and peace. In her book “Tramp For The Lord” she tells the story about how years after her release from the concentration camp, she came in contact with one of the most brutal prison guards and extended forgiveness to him. Her life is an example of how God works in and through our lives, carrying us through the hardships.

And she is an amazing testimony to His faithfulness and how His light can shine even in the darkest places.

Corrie’s story prompts me to ask some probing questions about my faith walk.

What Message am I Leaving Behind?

Corrie ten Boom’s story of faith is inspiring and timeless. Her legacy lives on through her penned words. Lives continue to be touched even though she has been gone since 1983. It is words like these from her books, that fill my sails with hope to continue on life’s journey:

  • I soon discovered that man’s importunity is God’s opportunity. He uses our problems as building materials for His miracles.
  • God has plans—not problems—for our lives.
  • Before she died in the concentration camp in Ravensbruck, my sister Betsie said to me, “Corrie, your whole life has been a training for the work you are doing here in prison—and for the work you will do afterward.”
  • Whether I am walking in the bright light of His presence, or abiding under the shadow of the Almighty, I know that He is not only with me, He is in me.

What a treasure trove of encouragement! This inspires me to think, every believer is leaving behind hope for the next generation. What will your message be? What will mine say to future generations?

Am I Trusting God to Lead?

In “Tramp For The Lord,” Corrie tells of her adventures of feeling led by the Lord to go from country to country to tell her story after her release from the Ravensbruck death camp. She boarded planes without hotel reservations, scheduled speaking engagements, or details, trusting the Lord to lead her when she arrived. And the amazing thing is that He did lead her.

Corrie’s adventures make me realize how much I play it safe. I look at my world with two-dimensional reason rather than three-dimensional faith. There is a part of me that wants to be like Corrie—totally trusting—completely surrendered—and in tune with the voice of my Father. There is a desire to understand Whittier’s words that say, “The steps of faith fall on the seeming void and find the rock beneath.”   WOW!

So, What Hinders Me?

The strongest hindrance I have is myself.  I second guess my impressions and come up with reasons why I shouldn’t take them seriously.

Corrie tells a story about when she felt impressed by the Lord to go to Argentina. She replied, “Yes, but…” and then remembered that serving the Lord should always be answered with, “Yes, Lord.”

I think I use a lot of ‘buts’ in my thinking. But, what if I take on too much? But, what if I’m not hearing correctly? 

The other reason I struggle is that I have burned out so many times. When burnout happens, it’s usually because I have been depending on my own ability, thinking I have got it covered. It sneaks up like a stealth fighter and in an instant, I find myself on my face crying out for help—His help. He’s been there all along but will allow me to take the reins in order to show me how much I need Him.

He is my strength when I am weak… The truth is—He is my strength all the time. Unless I am depending on His Holy Spirit power, I am kidding myself. There is nothing of Kingdom value I can accomplish on my own. But, I find when I am plugged into His power source I accomplish more with less effort. It isn’t me. It can never be me unless I am surrendered to Him each day.

Corrie passed through the fire during her time in the concentration camp. I think there is a dependence that develops when we have nothing left, but Him. In my humanness, I don’t want to face hardships like that, but I do want to learn more about the deep trust she found in her Heavenly Papa.

How about you? Is ‘but, Lord’ in your vocabulary too? What might the Lord be asking you to do?

Discover the Rich Resource of Corrie’s Life

If you have never read Corrie ten Boom’s books, I encourage you to look for them. You will be blessed by her stories. I pray I never have to endure what she went through, but part of me wants a relationship with God like hers. She was an amazing woman who was sold out to obedience to her Heavenly Father. Her story and her example continue to inspire others to this day.

Corrie died on her 91st birthday in 1983.  There is an interesting Jewish tradition that says, only very blessed people are allowed the special privilege of dying on their birthday!

She has certainly blessed me.

[Article by Jeanne Doyon, Crosswalk.com Contributor, Sep 6, 2013]

Corrie ten Boom – April 15, 1892 Haarlem, Holland (The Netherlands) – April 15, 1983 (Santa Ana, CA)

[Ten Boom the Musical shares the true and powerful story of Corrie ten Boom. To present this musical at your church or venue, contact us at 615-425-2652, 615-300-8591, or email us at susanmb@tenboomthemusical.com]

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