Thursday, April 24, 2008

Thankful Thursday

As promised last week, I want to share thankfulness today for The Academy of Arts, a wonderful and unique ministry headquartered near Greenville, SC. Since 1971, it has been their mission to bring the Bible to life through drama. They’ve written many outstanding plays and musicals, often based on the lives of Biblical figures like Joseph or Paul, or heroes of the faith like William Tyndale, who first translated the Bible into other languages, or the first missionary, Adoniram Judson. The plays are always rich with strong Christian principals, and like a good sermon, are designed to make you think, and prompt you to action. The Academy works with schools and with home school groups all over the country who don’t have the benefit of their own Drama or Theatre department.

The process begins several months before “play week,” when a particular play is chosen. The school holds try-outs and casts the parts. Scripts are sent from the Academy and students begin memorizing their lines and rehearsing. On the Sunday evening preceding the performance, the Academy of Arts team arrives on the scene with props, stage sets, costumes, make-up, theatrical lighting, professional sound system (and anything else you’d need for a top notch performance).

“Play Week” begins first thing Monday morning. For that one week, regular classes are suspended and the intensive work begins -- all day, each day, with a full dress rehearsal on Thursday evening. This culminates into a performance on Friday night and sometimes Saturday as well. Students are taught and utilized in every aspect of putting on the performance. Some of course, have parts in the play while others work to create or update props, work with costumes, lighting, makeup, etc.

This may sound like an easy week, but I assure you, nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, what often happens is a mini revival breaks out! That’s because the Academy is about so much more than putting on a play, or even putting on a Christian play. By the time they arrive, they have put an immense amount of planning, preparation and most importantly, prayer into each week-long seminar. They want to fully equip the kids who will play the parts, so that God will speak through them (and to them) in the process. Interwoven into all the preparations for the play are intensive devotional messages each day that impact and challenge the kids greatly. I can tell you firsthand The Academy has had a profound impact on the life of my son, and countless other students we know.

As they travel throughout the school year conducting seminars in various schools, they are also looking for potential summer drama team members. Interestingly, they aren’t seeking the “most talented” performers. Instead, they look for students who are standouts among their peers because of their faith, those with humble hearts and who love to serve. Out of thousands of kids they see throughout the year, only 40 are selected for their summer drama teams. These students give up their own summer plans to travel on a team and minister through drama.

They report to South Carolina the first week of June, and spend two intensive weeks in “training camp,” learning and rehearsing their play, building their sets, etc. Then, the tours begin. Three teams (Midwest, Eastern and Southern) then depart for their respective tours where they remain until the second week of August, when all the teams return. The teams (ranging in size from 10-15 members) spend every day together, traveling and performing, from one city to the next, all summer long. It is a humbling, challenging, faith-strengthening, character-building, yet completely amazing experience. I know this because my son has had the privilege of traveling with them three different summers. By the end of each tour, the teams have become a family, and leaving to return home is always very hard. The experience of traveling on summer drama teams -- ministering, helping to bring people to Christ, staying in host homes and experiencing the Lord’s protection and provision for their needs is life-changing. The relationships my son has with his former teammates run so deep, he cherishes any opportunity to get together with them, when they are ministering in the area, or even just traveling through in remotely close proximity.

It is for this reason it’s such a joy to host these kids when they’re in town, like a couple of weeks back when they were here conducting a seminar for my son’s former high school. As my son has adopted them as siblings, so too my husband and I have adopted them as our kids. They, and the Academy of Arts hold an enormous place in our hearts, and today I want to offer special thanks and praise to the Lord for them.

To see other Thankful Thursday posts, join us at Sting my Heart.

May this Thursday find you thankful…

P.S. If you’re interested in talking with the Academy about working with your school or home school group, or if your church would be interested in hosting a summer drama team performance, please see the website for contact information.


Susie said...

What an awesome group of kids. So glad you get to be a blessing to them too!

elaine @ peace for the journey said...


This group was just at our school two weeks ago. My 16 year old was involved and had a part in the play, "The Man without a Country." It was quite impressive, and I was so glad to have been able to witness their hard work and ministry. My three children attend a Christian school, and my oldest attends a Christian university not far from here.

God has blessed us to provide for such an education. It's not for everyone...but it has meant everything to us as parents. I'm so excited to know that we have, yet, another "thing" in common. Be blessed this day and come back for part two of "the Promise of Eden" when you get a chance. I've just started "Lies Women Believe" and am thinking about doing the study with my women this Fall.

Happy, thankful Thursday.


Gina's Public Diary said...

How wonderful to hear about young people living for the Lord.

Tracy Berta-daughter to the King, wife, mother, speaker, writer said...

This is soooo neat! My Andrew (who I blogged on this morning) SO loves drama. This would be neat for him.

Glad you stopped by!

Denise said...

Thanks for sharing this. Such precious kids, may God sweetly bless them all.

Susan said...

Thanks for stopping by today and rejoicing with us!!

Wow, this is so NEAT! I really enjoyed reading about this group.

I know you must be so proud to work with these sold out teens!


Melanie said...

What an awesome group of kids. I will keep this group in my prayers.

Nancie said...

Thank God for these young people. May God keep them close to Him and use them mightily in the extension of His Kingdom. And thanks for being such a blessing to them. May the Lord bless your labours of love. Thank you for sharing with us.

Every blessing!

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

It's best to take our questions to the Lord. If we truly pray for discernment, it is well within his promises to expect a healthy portion in return. We all have lingering hopes...lingering prayers and questions. Things that we believe that God has clearly spoken over our lives for our future. Things based in truth. But then there are also those things that come to us out our need, and we try to force our Father's will to mesh with ours.

Get on your face, dear one. Ask for confirmation, and try not to "over-label" your faith as weak. Seeking his discernment is not weakness. It's strength. Don't let the enemy play that trump card. I fully believe that he will reveal his truth to you in a very real and tangible way.

Seek hard and watch what he does. If you ever want to e-mail me a specific concern, you can do so through my blog (see side bar). In the meantime, I will pray that God speaks clear vision over your heart and your future. I'm praying that for myself also.

be blessed & peace~elaine

(I realize that this makes no sense to your readers, but I didn't have your email to send this to you in a more personal way.)

Natalie said...

With all the negativity on the news and television, it's such a breath of fresh air to see such good works!

Tiffany Stuart said...

Love hearing that God is using the younger generation. I have such a heart for teens and twenty somethings.

Definitely a reason to be thankful. I love their ministry. Sounds like something I would have loved doing.

Thanks for your comment on my Laced with Grace post this weekend. Appreciate you.

Erica said...

Being new to the "blogging world", it is always fun to have a comment from a fresh face. Thanks for stopping by. I loved reading about the teen drama group. That sounds so neat! I look forward to reading more of your heart!

eph2810 said...

I think that is so neat that young people give up their summer to share their faith across the country.

Thank you so much for sharing about the Academy and your grateful heart with us this week.

Be blessed today and always...

Natalie said...

I am so sorry to hear about your friend. It sounds like you are a good support for her. May God give you the words and actions to be of comfort to her.

Natalie said...

It looks great, Tracy!!! :)