Saturday, March 10, 2012
Our ministry through "Living Portraits" is beginning to "rev-up" for a season.
We've just appeared as 19th and 20th century missionaries Luther Rice and Annie Armstrong at a senior luncheon at Valley Springs Baptist (Arkansas), with a return invite this coming Wednesday for a "rerun" before the congregation. Of course, this is the time of year for Southern Baptist congregations to take an Easter Offering for North American Missions, and as its namesake - Miss Armstrong, is one of Virginia's persona, she begins to be in demand.
As Luther Rice, I do a bit of first person prelude and introduce her. We do enjoy this part of our ministry together, as we "lace" together various missionary personalities to further the Great Commission's mission message. Luther Rice was one of the first foreign missionaries to be sent out from the U. S. to Asia in 1812. He along with Adoniram Judson and 3 others sailed through French blockades and other ocean threats to become America's first mission advance. Arriving in Calcutta, India, they met and were aided by English Baptist Missionary William Carey. It was then, as the Judsons went on to Burma to open the work, that Rice returned to the U.S. to spend the rest of his life as the "rope-holder" for his colleagues, establishing missionary societies and ultimately, laying the groundwork for the establishment of the Southern Baptist Convention and its Cooperative Program for funding missionary advance.
Sharing her arrival on the scene 14 years after Rice's death, I introduced Miss Annie Walker Armstrong to take the floor and relate her story. Born in 1850 in Baltimore, Maryland, this lady grew up to become a passionate force for missionary advance in the United States. Beginning with local leadership in teaching children, she became involved in a wider circle of mission influence on the state level, and finally became the Corresponding Secretary of the Woman's Missionary Union, serving in that position from 1888-1906. She traveled across the U. S. and challenged churches and individuals regarding missionary support, supplying them with information on needs, and kept contact with missionaries through her tireless correspondence. Besides this, a passionate writer, she wrote years of Sunday School material that were published and used throughout the nation. Her spirit and example led the organization to give the special offering her name a number of years later.
And the beat goes on....
Besides these two, this spring has already found us booking both impromptu, as well as, some long range schedules. As a member of the local Writer's Group at North Arkansas College, where I am an adjunct instructor for Old and New Testament courses, I was asked to share with the group on the subject of RESEARCH for writing. I decided to do so in another persona, as author and humorist Mr. Mark Twain, a favorite role for some 12 years. Blending materials from those of knowledgable expertise on the subject with that I've used from my character studies of Mr. Twain, I pray we were able to bring new insight into the minds of our group of blossoming authors.
April will see Virginia and I again resurrecting our well used personas of George and Martha Washington, characters we have portrayed together since 1996 in and variety of venues. We have a schedule to perform at two schools in the area on the same day, requiring us to drive between them in costume. It occurs to me each time we do such, that if stopped by reason of our unusual "appearance" in wig and dress, if we might be cited for driving without a license that resembles us at the moment. Needless to say, we do get the stares when people see us stopped at traffic lights! Ah, the joys and humor we find along the way!
As I close these few lines, let me share with you what you can do to help us in our ministry. Obviously, we are open as we have time available, to accept other invitations, and we welcome that. However, we covet your prayers for us most of all. We feel deeply that this ministry gives people a first-hand "touch" with some of the greats of our Christian heritage. Even Mark Twain and his wife Olivia have challenging words for consideration, and as such, a ministry to share through our portrayals. So, pray for us as we continue on mission for our Lord!
As always, I pray we have been an encouragement to you today!