ST. PETERSBURG –Being a Christian as a young person requires developing true grit, spiritually, emotionally and intellectually. It’s not easy to stand down and walk away when people make fun of the way you talk, the way you dress or call you soft because you are a child of God.
The continued bombardment of put-downs can eventually make youth turn in on themselves and or lash out at others. Playwright and director Lillian Cross from Orlando spent last week with the youth of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church rehearsing a play that not only explored the trials and tribulations that youth face today, but also offered strategies for facing the demon within and around them.
The results of the workshops culminated in a two-hour drama, dance and musical presentation as part of the 118th annual session of the West Coast Baptist Congress of Christian Education last Friday, July 21.
“The play dealt with disciples, disciples ministering to disciples,” said Cross.
Cross depicted disciples who knew how to do the right thing but yielded to the temptations of peer pressure and self-gratification in Scene I entitled “There Is A Better Way.” In this section, the wayward antagonists are three brothers played by Brandon Macon, Jordon Lambert and Jonathan Myers who decide to make money by rolling dice.
On the other hand, the protagonists, played by Joniah Denard and Nazziya Richardson, are the disciples who eventually talk the three brothers out of gambling against each other to make money.
“There’s a better way to make your money and that’s through the book of Malachi,” she said.
Cross, as she quoted what one of the protagonists offered as a solution, which was to “bring your offerings into the storehouse and God will supply your every need.”
Scene II introduced the audience to a Christian played by Zydrianna Richardson-Amos who becomes concerned about a fortune teller’s prediction until two disciples, Trae Howard and Genena Denard, helped her come to the realization that only God truly knows what tomorrow will bring in anyone’s life. Amiya Lloyd played the role as the palm reader.
Scene III is a conflict played out every day somewhere in this nation. It dealt with a girl student, played by Vanessa Adams, who struggled with math to the point that even her teachers gave up on her and the constant repetition of “you’ll never get it” stuck with her to the point that she affixed it in her mind to believe she’d never get it.
Unfortunately, there are too many children in our school, be they public, private or charter, who has locked in on believing they’ll never get it.
Then, her mom came along as the disciple to encourage her and said “yes” she could do it. The daughter had to learn that through God all things are possible. The mother was played by Carla Austin.
The finale revealed the most ruthless hater of them all- the demonic person who tells a young person that he or she “ain’t gonna be nothing… yo’ mamma ain’t nothing, ya’ daddy ain’t nothing and you ain’t gonna be anything!” The child caught in this vicious scenario was adopted by foster parents who replaced cruel verbal abuse with unconditional love. The adopted daughter was played by Jaela Dennis.
Music for the event was supplied by the Friendship’s Youth Choir, and the Dance Ministry team of Maddyson Campbell, Koriawah Crist, Jonathan White, Kyra Alston and Imani Jenkins delivered a powerful performance in their Liturgical Dance to “You Made A Way.”
The performances for the evening by the young people echoed the mission statement of the 118th annual session: To promote the growth and development of ministry in churches through Christian education.