1. Fly solo in an airplane
My husband is a pilot. Early in our marriage, we flew together a lot. Thinking it might be good to know how to handle a plane if needed, I took flying lessons. I didn’t get my license, but did progress as far as flying solo.
2. Preach standing on a box of Bibles in Red Square
Maybe I stopped short of getting my pilot’s license because I didn’t like risk. Yet when asked to go to Russia with a mission team of young women in September 1991, I faced down fear and went. Two weeks before our trip, Communist hardliners, determined to regain control of the Soviet Union, staged a coup. Tanks rolled through Moscow’s streets. Civil war seemed imminent. Then, suddenly, the coup was overturned; the hardliners fled. While I stood on Red Square, announcing, “God has opened a door no one can shut,” the Soviet Congress convened in a building that opens onto Red Square, to vote to dismantle the Soviet Union.
3. Be ordained in the middle of the Sea of Galilee on a boat named Faith
Frankly, I never dreamed I’d be ordained. I didn’t seek ordination – partly because I didn’t feel the need for it, partly because I don’t like controversy. As a woman in ministry in a conservative church culture, I knew that just having the “o” word associated with my name would slam a lot of doors. Further, the way my ordination happened, many don’t count it “official.” Yet October 9, 2009, I had a simple choice: to follow Jesus or not. Following him, despite my aversion to risk and controversy, I found, once again, that what God orchestrates is as real, as right and as incredible as it gets. You can read the whole story in my article, “Walking on the Water.”
4. Perform in a nightclub in Romania
It’s my friend Laura’s fault. She was teaching at a university in Sibiu, Romania, and I was planning to visit. I’ve performed several monologues of biblical women, including two that focus on the death and resurrection of Jesus as experienced by the three Marys in Jesus’ life. Laura suggested I apply to perform in an international drama festival scheduled for June 2004. The movie, The Passion of the Christ, had been released worldwide just weeks before.
I applied, was accepted and three days before leaving for the trip was told my venue would be a nightclub; the time of performance, 11:00 on a Tuesday night. Church leaders whom Laura and I invited to go to the nightclub with us declined. At 10:00 pm, my friend and I entered the Stage Club, let our eyes adjust to the dark, smoke-filled room and then averted our eyes from the performance taking place on the runway stage. We mingled with English-speaking students from Laura’s classes while waiting my turn.
When I stepped onto the stage, I knew: Jesus would be here. The sound system had a mind of its own, sometimes working, sometimes not. Yet everyone in the audience heard and saw two things clearly: They saw my silent enactment of the Steve Green song played over the loudspeaker, “Broken and Spilled Out.” Also, at one point in the spoken drama, the erratic stage mike suddenly boomed out clearly, commanding the attention of all. Everything else stopped, no one even seemed to breathe, as Jesus’ words rang out with stunning authority: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”
My presentation didn’t go as smoothly as I would have liked, nor did it flow naturally from the very different drama just prior to mine. Further, my portrayal of Mary, the mother of Jesus, showed her as very human, not the sinless “mother of God” taught in the Romanian Orthodox Church. But in spite of my fears of being booed off the stage, or worse, I presented the gospel in drama in a nightclub – while people from Britain, Africa, Romania and other countries attentively watched.
This one’s still hard to believe, and it’s just getting underway. Miller Bargeron, Jr., an award-winning documentary producer-director, has agreed to create a documentary film based on my book, We Confess! The Civil War, the South, and the Church. To my great amazement, I’m the co-producer – once again, going with God where fear and controversy forbid; once again, flying by the seat of my pants.