“I challenge you to find the most excellent way” said Gian Walser, the ship’s director. Hope Night in Las Palmas of Canary Islands, Spain was an amazing production held onshore right next to a big shopping centre in the city. There were cultural acts from the ship’s crew who come from all around the world – Korea, Sweeden, Russia, USA and more. A large crowd gathered around the stage and watched the performances. In the end, a member of the ship’s crew told the story of how she found that the most excellent way is love.
Last night at midnight the Logos Hope – My home – left the last island in the Caribbean on our schedule – Roseau, Dominica. The Caribbean has been my home for 8 months now, though the Logos Hope is where I spend most of my time so every time I walk out the door I experience some culture shock. If I were to use only one word to describe my experience of Caribbean people – I would say alive. Alive in a way that European and even Australian people can be dead. People want to talk to you, to say good morning to you as you pass in the street. People are not afraid to ask you spiritual questions. In this way they are friendly, but in another way they can be rude. Sometimes the staff in the book fair struggled to deal with the demands of insistant customers who asked for discounts, demanded service and rarely smiled or said ‘hello’. Christians here are not afraid to spread the Gospel – and I have learned a little boldness from them. The nations I visited gain their income from tourism, hosting wealthy white tourists on sandy beaches – while their populace often live in abject poverty. The contrast is frightening to me, and it scares me that the tourists don’t see the poverty as they are wisked away from their cruise ships in a taxi to a nice beach.
In the Caribbean I spoke in front of another church body for the first time, handed out gospels on the street for the first time, performed an evangelistic drama for non christians for the first time, told a story to a group of kids for the first time, and started really trying to talk about Jesus one on one with stranges in the cafe. I have become accustomed to introducing myself as Chris from Australia – the land of Crocodiles and Koalas and Kangaroos. I have learned the hard way how to lead a team with love and patience – and discovered in me and weeded out a competitive spirit that doesn’t support the body of Christ.
The Caribbean has been a special time for me, and I will never forget it.
This is how I quickly explained to a volunteer from Bermuda the meaning of a drama I performed the night before in the Hope Theater for an event called ‘Sunday Night Live’. The event was hosted by a local church called ‘Cornerstone’ and ran a lot like a talent show – around 7 acts from local Christians and ship’s crew. The difference of course is that each person brought glory to God in his or her own way. Some sang worship songs and others did stand up comedy without the dirty jokes.
At the end a pastor gave a short message challenging the youth. While he was speaking we – the drama team – assembled on the stage behind the curtains. I prayed “Jesus, please help me to portray you accurately tonight and to perform to my best”. Representing the character of Jesus is indeed a challenge for anyone, since we have all fallen short of his moral standards and gone our own way at times, and I was suitably anxious as his message drew to a close. But as the curtains opened and the lights came up God used me to present this message – don’t sit on the fence. Many said they were impacted greatly by the drama and some asked me to clarify it’s meaning, and I was happy to explain it to them.
Dressed entirely in white, I stood perfectly still looking out onto the audience of shoppers and tourists, the lights were on me and all was silent. With three others from the ship, I was about to perform a drama called ‘In the light’ in a shopping centre main stage – and I was to play Jesus.
When we had first arrived at the centre we were told a dance group was scheduled to use the main stage and we were to find another place, but since we had only a cd, but no speaker system of our own (expecting to use theirs) this was not possible. We gathered to pray and asked God to help us find the best way to continue. After we prayed the manager appeared and I appealed to him to use the stage before and after the dance group and the water show that also was to happen. I had been to this place earlier to help with a performance so I know what was possible, God had prepared me for this. They agreed and we went on stage right away and performed two dramas, one where I had a minor role – the audience loved it.
During the dance show and water show we made balloon animals and painted faces for kids and some in the team had good conversations with people and we gave our flyers about the ship so people could come visit.
Then after all this finally came the moment for all my practice to come to something real, to perform on stage. Waiting a few seconds for the music to start felt like an eternity standing there in full view, but eventually it did start and everyone acted so perfectly in timing, expressions and movements that it was like a dream. The drama presents a girl who God creates, and who rejectes God and goes her own way and is oppressed by the devil, and another girl who is created and worships God and is joyful and how Jesus dies on a cross and in doing so frees the oppressed girl and defeats the devil. We never explain the drama, but it seems to speak for itself. The crowd loved the drama and applauded loudly. After this a team member shared her testimony and shared about the ship.
I am so glad to have studied drama and practiced long and hard to have performed this drama which presents a message that we would never be allowed to preach in such a place using words. I pray that it would have a lasting impact on those who watched it.