This is my team.
They are family.
Keep that in mind as you read.
“Hi, my name is Christopher Murray, I’m 16 years old (Now 20), I’m from Plymouth, Minnesota, and this is my first summer traveling with the Academy of Arts”…
I was the kid whose only home was the house that he lived in. I was kid whose only friends mostly attended his school, youth group, and church. I was the kid whose only parent figures were the two parents he had, and his only siblings were the two brothers he had. I was the kid whose only known Wisconsin and Minnesota his whole life and been out of state a couple times, but never longer than a few days, and never farther than a few hundred miles.
I had never been in a play before, nor done anything in drama. That changed when The Academy of Arts came to my school. They took a week out of my highschool’s time to teach us a play which takes place during the Civil War and is based off the story of the Prodigal Son. My friend, Rajan, played the runaway, and I played the drummer boy who challenged him with the message of the Gospel, which he accepted after my death and then returned home.
Towards the end of the week, I had an opportunity laid before me. I was invited to join The Academy of Arts Summer Drama Team program. I was initially shocked because I was the only Sophomore invited, and I saw no reason why I should be invited in the first place. After all, I had only been in one play my whole life, and yet they were asking me to travel with them for a whole summer. Yeah. Right..
But then I prayed.
I initially said no, which over the course of a week turned into a yes. My parents initially said no, which over the course of a week turned into a yes. Circumstances initially said no, which over the course of a week turned into a yes. And after a week had gone by, there I was, the Minnesotan kid sending in his application.
I was accepted, and a little over a month and a half later I was sitting in the Logos Theatre with 30+ other teens. Most of us didn’t know each other, nor did I know know anyone there. And yet there I was, in South Carolina, a thousand miles away from all my friends and family, embarking on a journey unlike anything else I had ever been a part of before. Funny how God worked that out.
After funny, serious, and rudimentary auditions, it was decided that I be put on the 2013 Eastern Summer Drama Team. Soon after, I was sitting with ten other people I barely knew. My guy leader was Will, and my lady leader was Kara. The guys were Sam, Jeremiah, Caleb, and Peter, and the girls were Valerie, Alex, Becca, and Emily. They were pretty nifty if I don’t say so myself.
But none the less, they were my team. We had two weeks of training to learn our lines, the choir songs/hymn arrangements, the play, how to set up the stage, how to set up lights and sound, how to run lights and sound, how put on makeup, how to do costumes, what to do when, where, why, how, and much more. All of this coupled with sermons, messages, devotions, and talks preparing us for circumstances/situations on the road. It was exhausting mentally, emotionally, and physically. It was those first two weeks that formed us into a team. We learned how to work together, and how to carry out what the following seven weeks would call for.
After training was over, we were sent out on the rode for seven weeks. From South Carolina, to Indiana, up to New York. Technical difficulties. Trailer problems. Team members getting sick. Churches with small stages. Family situations. Injuries. Clashing personalities. Little sleep. Hours of work. I’d say it was a long summer, but never has any summer gone quicker. As a team, we pulled together. But what set our team apart from any other team in this secular world was that we didn’t pull together and then lean on each other. We embraced each other and then pointed each other to Christ. We embraced the trials and then laid them at Christ’s feet. We gave everything we had on and off stage. We prayed constantly asking for Christ’s help. We laughed with each other. We cried with each other. We encouraged each other. We got right with each other. We stuck with each other.
But it wasn’t us that stuck. It was Christ. Had it not been for Christ, we’d have to reason to be where we were. We’d have no reason to be doing what we were doing. We’d have no reason to forgive each other. We’d have no reason to fall to our knees in prayer when everything else was falling apart. We’d have no reason to breathe. And yet Christ died for us, and who are we to not give everything in return. Who are we to not respect those people who gave everything they had for Christ. Who are we to not sincerely sing those songs which were written through tears at Christ’s feet. Who are we to not retell those miserable yet victorious stories of those true followers of Christ..
And it was for those reasons that we weren’t just a team.. we were a family. We were a family held by Christ. And as a family held by Christ, we’ll always be a family, even if we’re a thousand miles apart. They didn’t give me a new beginning, but they taught me that Christ gives me a new beginning. They taught me that to live in past failure is to live in fear of failure, and to live in past sin is to live in present sin. Who I am now does not have to be defined by who I used to be.
Because He didn’t just die for me. He rose for me.
And for that reason, I have a new beginning.