Women’s Update (06/18/2015) | 27 Years Ago

The following is an excerpt from Esther Servais’ testimony that she shared on Sunday during the morning service.

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27 Years Ago

By Esther Servais

Doug would tell you that something that makes him feel very uncomfortable is getting up in front of an audience and pretending to be someone else.  Something that scares me to death is getting up in front of an audience and having to be myself.  Today I take off the mask and stand before you… My name is Esther Servais and I am the Director of Theater Arts here at New Life in Christ Church.  The Drama Ministry’s verse is Ephesians 5:1&2: “Therefore, be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling aroma.”

27 years ago, my family arrived in the United States.  My parents had five children at the time and very little money.  My father wanted to find a church where the building was not just used once a week on Sunday mornings, but was filled with different ministries during the rest of the week.  He found New Life in Christ Church and even though my father did not agree 100% with the doctrine of the church, he deeply respected and loved Doug and still does to this day.  At the time, my father worked three jobs to support his family.  Still he found it hard to provide and eventually had to reach out to the church leadership for financial help.  The church stepped in without hesitation.

I have been involved in the arts ministry at New Life since Kindergarten beginning with choir and chimes.  I am currently the longest running member of the bell choir ministry.  Playing for 25 years in the exact same position.  As part of the children’s music ministry, we performed various musical presentations.  One of them was “A Lamb’s Tail” in which I had the starring role as an innocent little lamb.  Later on I directed the exact same show as an adult and acted in other equally fitting roles such as Jezebel, Pottier’s wife and…death.  But, the defining moment in my theater career was when JONATHAN ALLISON asked me to throw a bag of peanuts onto the stage for a Vacation Bible School drama.  (It also happened to be his only acting role ever in the history of New Life.) After I threw that bag of peanuts on the stage, standing stage left, I knew in that very moment that my vocation was to start the theater ministry here at New Life in Christ Church.

I later went on to act in Vacation Bible School dramas under the direction of Sarah Kittredge.  Then, I took over and directed the Vacation Bible School drama under VBS heads Rose Ann Johnson, Nancy Mangus, Laurie Burrows, and, funny enough, Sarah Kittredge.  Around the age of 14, I expressed my desire to Mary Jane Kittredge that I felt called to start a drama ministry at New Life and she wisely directed me to Veronica Allison.  Veronica laid out a plan on how to reach that goal and gave me teaching opportunities in directing a children’s choir and a chime choir.  Our first big musical at New Life was the production of “Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat”.  I was only 17 when I was given the opportunity to direct that show.  At 23, I was given the opportunity to direct Judy Hinson’s production of “Esther”.  It was after that production and with such a positive response from the congregation that Veronica said, “Now is the time to ask the session to make drama an official ministry.”  And with the help of the Allisons, we wrote a proposal and presented it before the session where it was accepted.

We have used drama on missions trips to Israel, in community productions, theater classes for K5-adults in our church, in cantatas, Vacation Bible School, Missions Month, Festival of the Arts, Christmas Banquets, Parents’ Banquets, Drama in the Courtyard, and in many other ways.  If this building was not “used” 27 years ago, believe me when I say that it is definitely used today.

Now, let me remove the mask completely… That was the testimony I was going to present to you today and it is the one that most of you already know. But, if I did not share another testimony with you I would not really be sharing my full testimony.  Many of you know me as a strong, fearless and confident woman who doesn’t let anything or anyone get to her…  Someone who has all the answers and can almost seem heartless in her decision-making.

27 years ago, my family came to this church and a very lost and broken child grew up going to Sunday school here.  One day, she made a cross necklace out of wood and small cheap jewels and gave it to one of her Sunday School teachers, Gail Weeks… Gail wore the necklace the next Sunday to the morning service.  The little girl could not believe that an adult would find value in something so simple from a child.  It was because of Gail’s encouragement in that one act of love that you now see this set [in the sanctuary].  The little girl played in chimes and sung in choir in this building.  Choir days were one of the only things she looked forward to during the week.  But, still she kept hiding the hurt inside.

Her family ended up renting a small house owned by Judy and MR Fulks on Belvedere Plantation.  This was where the girl would adopt an older couple who lived in the house next door and declare to them that they would be her grandparents.  Many of you knew them as Charlie and Jackie Geffrion, Mary Jane’s mother and father.  They made her feel like she belonged.   But, as a teen who dealt with crippling depression — she went to Youth Group, but never really fit in.  She discovered ways to control her emotions by inflicting wounds outwardly to express what she felt inwardly.  At the age of 16, it was during Vacation Bible School week while she was directing the drama that she found out that one of her best friends had committed suicide.  That event in her life drove her further to hide her pain and anger even more.  If she could only keep everyone at arm’s length, then maybe no one could get close enough to break her heart again.  As a young adult still dealing with deep depression and isolation, she went through several failed relationships.  BUT… the one thing that remained constant in her life and what this young woman didn’t realize was that God had sent an army to attack her walls and for 15 years that little army with their little feet, little hands, little smiles and little hugs were just small enough to sneak in through the cracks and for 15 years each one of those drama students gently took away one more brick.

Two years ago, I was driving to Wegmans and seeing the Marine Corps half marathon banners.  I wrote on my Facebook wall that I was considering signing up.  I had people try to discourage me, because it was a really stupid idea to sign up for a half marathon without any real training and with only two days away from the race.  But, my older sister encouraged me to do it and she said she would run with me.  She was a marathon runner, but, had recently blown out her knee. So, this would be a difficult race for her physically.  We signed up my youngest sister who runs as well and the morning of the race we started out.  I had run on my own before, but, just a couple of miles.  I had always fueled those runs with pain, anger and resentment.  I ran to feel and express what I couldn’t put into words.

So as we started the race… I let the anger, the pain, and disappointments of my life flow through me to keep me going.  But, something happened halfway through. I had never run for more than 3-4 miles at time; about halfway through, my emotions became unbearable.  Anger and hurt weren’t enough to keep me going and everything that I had boxed up inside of me came pouring out.  My oldest sister noticed me slowing down asked me what hurt.  How would I tell her that it was my heart?  My mind hurt. My soul hurt. Nothing physically hurt.  She kept encouraging me to just keep running.  Keep going.  Not to give up.  Finally, the finish line was in sight.  I knew I wanted to cross that line running — my body was fine.  But, my mind just gave up.  I tried screaming at myself to keep going… telling myself how disappointed I would be if I didn’t cross that line running.  My sisters grabbed my arms and told me that WE were going to finish strong and WE were going to finish together even if they had to carry me.  It was in that moment that I realized, truly realized, that pain and anger will only take you so far and it will always leave you burnt and with deeper scars then when you started out.  But love, love is what will take you across the finish line and you can not cross it alone.  My father realized that 27 years ago.  It took his daughter until the age of 27 to know it in her own heart.

I’d like to share one of the songs from our upcoming show Moses, it’s called “The Exodus” and it’s sung to Moses by his son at the end of the show:  “Here is the riddle you now understand.  When hate leads your heart it returns to your hand.  But when love is your guide Moses, love leads you home. The angel of Exodus to you now has come.  Yes the angel of death has passed over your home.  The angel of Exodus to you now has come.”

God could have used anyone to start the church here in Fredericksburg called New Life in Christ Church, but, He chose Doug and Mary Jane.  They are not perfect.  God could have used anyone to run the arts ministry here at New Life, but he chose Jonathan and Veronica Allison.  They are not perfect.  God could have used anyone to start a theater ministry here, but, he chose me: completely broken me.

The person that I relate to most in the bible is not Queen Esther.  It is not Mary or Ruth.  The person I relate to most is “The Woman” in John 8…

John 8:2-10: At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them.  The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery.  They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women.  Now what do you say?”  They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.  But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.  At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.  Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they?  Has no one condemned you?”  “No one, sir,” she said.  “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared.  “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

About Esther:  Esther is the Director of Theater Arts at New Life in Christ Church and is currently pursuing her dance career.


Current Announcements:

EVENTS

  • Moses & Burning Within Performances | Friday, June 19 & Saturday, June 20
    Dinner Theater on Friday June 19 & Saturday, June 20 — 
    Doors Open at 6:00 pm; Dinner Begins at 6:30 pm; Musical Begins at 7:15 pmJune 20 Matinee — Doors open at 1:30 pm; Musical Begins at 2:00 pm (NO dinner).  Tickets are free, but, required.  Contact the church office for tickets. To participate, contact Jonathan Allison. Contact: Jonathan Allison
  • 40th Anniversary Banquet | Saturday, July 11 at 6 pm
    Our 40th Anniversary Banquet will be held at 6 pm on Saturday, July 11, 2015.  Doors open at 6:00 pm and dinner begins at 6:30 pm.  Our banquet will be a time of fellowship, a delicious meal, and reflection of God’s goodness.  Please let us know if you will be attending and if you are able to set-up or clean-up.  We would greatly appreciate your support!  Please RSVP by Sunday, June 28.  Click here to RSVP.  Contact: Amy Auker
  • 40th Anniversary Service & Reception | Sunday, July 12 at 3 pm
    A reception will follow our special 40th Anniversary service. If you are able to bring something to share or assist with set-up/clean-up, click here. Please join us as we celebrate God’s faithfulness. This special anniversary service will be in place of our regular 6 pm service; Sunday School and our 10 am worship service remain unchanged. Contact: Katie Crawford
  • Vacation Bible School (VBS) | July 27 – July 31
    We are still seeking teachers and assistant teachers to help during the week.  We hope to borrow the following decoration needs (please label all items with your name and they will be returned to you): tube-style Christmas lights, lab coats/jackets, and any non-breakable science-themed items.  We seek the following craft supply donations (please label the bag ‘VBS’ & drop off in ministry office): toilet paper or paper towel cardboard tubes, aluminum foil,  3″ Styrofoam balls, assorted colors of Sharpie markers, and assorted colors of craft wire.  More craft & food donations and teen helper opportunities will follow soon. Contact: Carrie Verbosky

SERVING OPPORTUNITIES

  • Healthy Snacks for Moses Cast! | Friday, June 19 or Saturday, June 20
    In the past, the Drama Team has made late-night fast food runs in between rehearsals and work, school, etc.  We’re looking for volunteers to help provide healthy snacks/finger foods to keep the cast nourished and energized.  Food can be labeled and delivered to the kitchen by 4 pm the day of (or earlier).  To sign-up and obtain more information, please click here. Contact: Katie Crawford
  • {Update} Substitute Sunday School Assistant with 7th & 8th Grade Girls Needed | June 21 – July 26
    Krystal Dowell and Beth Hamilton are looking for a substitute Sunday School assistant.  The need is for 6 weeks.  Please note, however, that the assistant does not have to be the same person each week – we would be grateful for anyone willing to assist even for one Sunday. No teaching – unless desired – just assisting.  Contact: Krystal Dowell
  • {Update} Volunteer Assistance Needed in the Church Office | Tuesday, June 22 and Thursday, June 25
    As both Christine and Dayra will be gone next week, assistance is needed in the church office with answering phones and other administrative tasks.  Currently, the remaining times of need are Tuesday, June 22 (8:30 am – 12:30 pm) and Thursday, June 25 (8:30 am – 4:30 pm).  If you are able to help with any fraction of those times, please contact Christine. Contact: Christine | 540-786-4848 | nlicc@nlicc.org
  • Hostesses or Teachers Needed for Summer Pre-Teen Girls’ Study | Sunday Afternoons June 7 – August 9
    Each Sunday, after morning worship service, girls will go to the home of a different woman of the church where they will be hosted for lunch and bible study. The afternoon will be filled with fellowship, crafts, and service activities.  Girls will be returned to church for the 6 pm evening service.  Are you willing to hostess or lead a session?  Sign up here:  Contact: Heather O’Hara
  • Church Kitchen Cleaning Committee
    A deep-cleaning maintenance schedule has been created.  We suggest during the first week of the month, 2-3 people get together to clean & organize the kitchen. Sign-up with a friend or get to know someone new!  You can access the sign up here. Contact: Christine Fulcrod
  • Needs for Church Manses
    If you are able to donate gently used (or new) furnishings and new cleaning supplies, please click here.  If you have questions regarding delivery of furniture and/or specific needs listed, please contact the deacon on call.  Contact: Ricardo Perez
  • Bulletin Folding
    Do you have a couple hours on a Friday afternoon you can spare?  Sign up HERE to fold bulletins after 1 pm some Friday.  Takes about 2 hours (faster if you bring a friend!) Contact: Dayra Rumbaugh | 540-786-4848 | dayra@nlicc.org

MERCY MINISTRY NEWS

  • Calling all Baby Bottles! | Return Bottles June 21
    Please return the bottles to Eileen Roberts or Krystal Dowell on 6/21 or to the church office.  Thank you for your support of this ministry. Contact: Eileen Roberts

 

WOMEN’S MINISTRY NEWS

Have a ministry need or idea for an activity? Contact us at wm@nlicc.org or find us on Facebook.

All for His glory,
The Women’s Ministry Committee

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