Interview with Chuck Neighbors

Had the pleasure of being interviewed by Tracie Arboneaux-Gorham from the FB Group “Therefore, I create!”

We talked about my career as an actor and the recent books I have authored. It was a fun conversation.

Merry Christmas 2016!

As I sit here writing this I am keeping one eye on the window, watching for the anticipated snowfall that is threatening to shutdown Salem later today. I am a little anxious because I am scheduled to perform tonight in Silverton, OR. There is a very good chance the performance will cancel.

As I reflect on that thought, I am realizing that there have not been many cancelations in my 42 years of ministry. A few caused by weather, a few caused by family/medical emergences. But all in all, it is a rare event. In fact I think I could probably count the cancelations on two hands. (I estimate that we have given about 5,000 performances during that time—that is about .2%!) I count that is one of God’s blessings on this ministry. And we’re still going strong and busy as ever!

  • Performances— Over 100 performances by our artists again this year.
  • Ministry growth— In addition to my performances, my associates, Steve Wilent and Marcia Whitehead have been keeping busy.  Just this month we are adding a new artist to our roster. Wes Whatley lives on the East Coast and will be great addition to our team.
  • Child Sponsorship— One of the biggest blessings of this ministry is that we also get to advocate on behalf of the poor through our partnership with Food for the Hungry. This year about 400 more sponsors were added and over the life of our ministry over 6,000 sponsors have been joined us in tacking poverty around the world.

We fully realize that it is the prayer and financial support of people like you that make this work possible.  We so appreciate your partnership in the work that we do.  As you look forward to 2017, we would be so very honored if you would help us keep the story going by giving a gift to Master’s Image Productions.  We would be especially grateful if you could support us on a regular basis with a monthly pledge (if you are already doing that, thank you!). You can also designate your gifts for the benefit of a specific artist if you like.

May God bless you and yours this Christmas and in 2017!

Chuck Neighbors

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Donate by mail:

Master’s Image Productions, P.O. Box 903, Salem, OR 97302

Master’s Image is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Donations are tax-deductible.

Looking back at 2015

It’s hard for me to believe that another year has passed. It seems like yesterday that I was saying that about 2014! It has been a wonderful and eventful year for us. Here are just a few of the highlights:

Performances— Over 100 performances by our artists again this year. Lots of travel and performances in churches of all sizes and denominations. Each performance becomes special as we are able to witness lives touched. Sometimes it is evident in silence, sometimes in laughter, sometimes in tears and every once in a while in spectacular ways as evidenced through stories and comments we receive after the event.

Ministry growth— In addition to my performances, we have two other artists that are a part of our team–Steve Wilent and Marcia Whitehead. Both Marcia and Steve have been creative in working to develop new material to add to their repertory. My booking schedule has been robust and I have managed to schedule bookings about 6 months in advance.

DSC07760Child Sponsorship— One of the biggest blessings of this ministry is that we also get to advocate on behalf of the poor through our partnership with Food for the Hungry. This year Marcia and I were able to travel to the Dominican Republic to witness their work and to each meet children that we personally sponsor! As a ministry we were able to help over 400 children find sponsors this year! This is one of the most important aspects of our ministry and a rich blessing indeed!

IMG_4028On a personal note, the biggest highlight of our year was that Lorie and I became grandparents to Lucy Paige Neighbors. This precious child was born with a heart defect and spent the first 2.5 months of her life in the hospital, but as of this writing is home and doing well!

We fully realize that it is the prayer and financial support of people like you that make this work possible.  We so appreciate your partnership in the work that we do.  As you look forward to 2016, we would be so very honored if you would help us keep the story going by giving a gift to Master’s Image Productions.  We would be especially grateful if you could support us on a regular basis with a monthly pledge (if you are already doing that, thank you!). You can also designate your gifts for the benefit of a specific artist if you like.

You can mail tax deductible gifts to:

Master’s Image Productions, P.O. Box 903, Salem, OR 97308

or just click the button to donate online:

May God bless you and yours this Christmas and in 2016!

Chuck Neighbors

2014 The Year in Review

Chuck & Lorie Neighbors

Chuck & Lorie Neighbors

Dear Friends,

It’s almost time to turn the page on another year. With each page I turn, I find myself marveling in the story we are making, both in our personal lives, and in this ministry that God has called us to! 2014 was a milestone for us, as June marked the 30th anniversary for Master’s Image (and 40 years for me as an actor in ministry)! Here are just a few of the highlights:

Performances— Over 100 performances by our artists this year. In the 30 years we have been in existence there have been an estimated 3,000 performances and an estimated total audience of over half a million people! Those performances, have been all over US and in 17 countries around the world!  That’s an amazing statistic for this “Christian Actor Guy” to even begin to comprehend.

Ministry growth— In addition to my performances we have two other artists that are a part of our team–Steve Wilent and Marcia Whitehead. In 30 years, we have been able to help 6 other artists establish a ministry. We have also consulted and mentored numerous artists from across the country on various projects. God has blessed us and allowed us to be a blessing to others who are called to ministry through the arts.

Child Sponsorship— Clearly one of the biggest blessings of this ministry is that we also get to advocate on behalf of the poor. This year we were able to get 350 children sponsored, who live in poverty in third-world countries. Over the years, we have acquired close to 6,000 child sponsors. Not only are we able to impact and touch lives through our ministry on a local level, but through sponsorship lives are being changed around the globe! Blessed indeed!

We fully realize that it is the prayer and financial support of people like you that make this work possible.  We so appreciate your partnership in the work that we do.  As you look forward to 2015, we would be so very honored if you would help us keep the story going by giving a gift to Master’s Image Productions.  We would be especially grateful if you could support us on a regular basis with a monthly pledge (if you are already doing that, thank you!). You can also designate your gifts for the benefit of a specific artist if you like.

You can mail tax deductible gifts to: Master’s Image Productions, P.O. Box 903, Salem, OR or just click the button to donate online:

May God bless you and yours this Christmas and in 2015!

Chuck & Lorie Neighbors

One In A Million with World Vision!

This year marks a pretty significant milestone for the Christian relief and development organization World Vision.  Through the efforts of numerous singers, speakers, comedians, visual artists and yes, even actors, nearly ONE MILLION children have been sponsored.  I am blessed to be among those who are making a difference, using our voice to help the poor.

If you are one of the nearly one million who have sponsored a child THANK YOU! If you haven’t yet made that decision I encourage you to do so.  You will make a better story for you, the child and the community in which they live!  Click the link to be ONE IN A MILLION!

Thanks a Million


Meet Mari Luz

We just returned from a wonderful visit to the Dominican Republic.  Part of our purpose in going to this island nation was to visit our World Vision sponsored child, Mari Luz.  She is a beautiful child and we are privileged to be a part of her life. Take a moment to view this video montage of our visit.

Working through an interpreter we were able to have a conversation with Mari, though she is quite shy. Her favorite color is pink. Her favorite subject in school is math. We found out that one of her favorite things to do is attend Bible Club (provided through World Vision). Though only 7 years old, Mari has a dreams.  When we asked her what she wants to be when she grows up she said she wanted to be a doctor!  Sometimes people wonder if their sponsorship really is tied to a specific child… I hope this video answers that question!

If you would like to make a difference in the life of a child, and quite possibly have your life changed too, I invite you to sponsor a child like Mari Luz. Click this link and get started in making a difference! Sponsor a Child!

Thoughts on Lima, Peru

By Lorie Neighbors

November 9, 2008

On November 2 my husband, Chuck and I met a team of 7 other people in Lima, Peru for a 4-day learning experience. Most of us are Artist Associates with World Vision, the Christian international relief, development and advocacy organization; others are staff facilitating this event. As performing artists (actors and singers) we talk to our audiences in the U.S. about child sponsorship and how they can impact a child in this simple yet life-changing way. We were invited to see firsthand what World Vision is doing in the inner-city slums of Lima. Bob Pierce founded World Vision by praying a simple prayer: “Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.” Mission accomplished.

Peru is a beautiful country and Lima boasts some breathtaking beauty! Our hotel was just a few blocks from the Pacific Ocean, which was similar in some ways to the Oregon coast-pounding waves and except for a few designated areas, not very swimmable (they do have great surfing, though). Palm trees, cacti and aloe, but vegetation is sparse. The coastal area is a desert, which is odd since it is very humid and the temperature is moderate.

It was fascinating to learn that in some areas, if land belongs to someone but is vacant for 10 years, anyone has a right to it. So, slums are erected on empty land (so-called “invasions”) and it’s not unusual for 5,000 dwellings to spring up literally OVERNIGHT. The government provides electricity relatively soon, but it takes years for water and sewer. (The usual time from “invasion” until a community becomes self-supporting is 25-30 years.) The slums are built into hilly, unstable areas. No paved roads; just myriad dusty paths and roadways barely drivable. The further away from the city center we drove, heading to the slums, the more apparent it became that we were in a desert. Sand and dust everywhere and virtually no vegetation. A stark contrast.

Each day after breakfast at our hotel, we boarded a bus and drove to a different Area Development Project (ADP) where we were enthusiastically met by staff and volunteers eager to share what World Vision is doing in their area. It was exciting to see World Vision Peru partnering with the local people to enhance their lives and help enact sustainable solutions for the future of their communities. We were shown homes in three phases: before, during and after World Vision’s help. They augment or rebuild, depending on what is needed-giving the homes sturdy foundations and walls of brick, mortar and rebar; flooring and glass windows; plumbing, a toilet. It was also encouraging to visit marketplaces and see micro-enterprise made possible by low interest loans from World Vision. One woman had a produce stand; another an upholstery business.

The main component is child sponsorship. Once an area is chosen for an ADP, families are visited to determine children eligible for sponsorship. We met many sponsored children and were proudly shown letters and photos that their sponsors in America and Canada had sent to them (other countries have sponsorship programs, but we only saw U.S. and Canadian projects on this trip). World Vision helps all of the families in an ADP by offering classes on nutrition and child development to mothers of children under 5. We were told that anemia is the main health issue for children in these slums-almost 40% of children here are anemic. Each day families are offered iron-rich food to supplement their diets. Two ADP’s made a spread with chicken blood, powdered milk, sugar and water, which is boiled, then cooled and served on crackers. A few brave souls (yours truly included) ate some. I actually thought it was good, and had 3, to be extra polite! (I became ill that evening . . . hmmmm, could I have had one too many chicken blood pate crackers?)

We were told that, sadly, these children grow up not knowing how to play. World Vision believes that the future of any country lies in its children, so its focus begins there. Two of the ADP’s had “toy libraries.” These brightly painted buildings were divided into focused learning areas: there were puzzles, books, musical instruments, a little “store,” a “house” (each had a definite educational purpose). Kids could earn the right to come to the toy library for 2 hours each day by minding their parents, doing chores, getting good grades in school. Wonderful teenage volunteers help out-we were so impressed by the teens we met! All of them were respectful and fiercely loyal and loving toward their families even with difficult upbringings. All were committed to going to college, even though it is very expensive and we were told there are no scholarships or student loans. They give many hours each day mentoring younger children in good values and non-violence. Abuse and domestic violence are critical issues in the slums of Lima. However, Peruvians are private people and normally don’t report domestic violence.

(Side note: We were told that Peruvians believe that expressing personal feelings is rude and don’t tell their problems to anyone. Someone could be dying and no one would know! Our translator told us it is shocking to see the changes in a Peruvian who goes to live in America then returns-they talk too much about themselves [“we don’t have to know about every ache and pain you have!”].)

The highlight of the trip for Chuck and me was getting to meet the little boy that we sponsor, Enrique, and his mother, Patty. Words cannot describe the feelings we had as they walked into the room and we hugged her and got to hold this precious child that we have been helping to support through our prayers and finances. Thanks to sponsorship, he is healthy and happy. His mother loves him so much but she is poor, lives with her parents and cannot support him alone. She was so appreciative that a family in America would care enough to help them have a better life. A very moving experience for us all.

A lovely Peruvian woman we met asked me to tell people in America that art is not commonly seen among the poor, and they believe they have no right to access art. They struggle for the children to understand that LIFE IS ART! They want to incorporate drama, art, painting, as it helps children’s spiritual and cultural enrichment. Some people believe there are no artists among the poor. “We are a repressed people and any contact with art helps us glimpse reality.”

I believe we helped with that in a small way last week. Everywhere we visited, we shared our art with them. We sang, played instruments, did a simple improv game. The children sang for us, performed authentic dances in traditional dress and proudly showed us their artwork. I believe there are artists among them. I believe that with World Vision’s help they are learning to play and love and glimpse a future that holds out hope for them.

If you would like to sponsor a child like Enrique and bring help and hope to a community like the ones we visited in Peru you can do that now by clicking the World Vision logo below!

Blessings to you!

Lorie Neighbors

World Vision Trip to Lesotho, Africa

The first week of March, Steve Wilent and I had the privilege to travel to the country of Lesotho, Africa. We went with a group of other artists, mostly musicians, to observe the work of World Vision, the Christian humanitarian relief organization. Master’s Image Productions is pleased to represent World Vision as partners in this ministry. This trip would focus on the work being done to bring help and hope to those suffering as a result of the HIV/AIDS pandemic that is sweeping many of the countries in Africa. What follows are my journal entries for the time we were there. If after reading this you feel you would like to know more or would be interested in sponsoring a child through World Vision, I invite you to give me a call or send me an email at I would be delighted help you get involved!

Feb. 28th to Mar. 1, 2004

The flight over was a test of endurance. Cramped airline seats for 15 hours from Atlanta to Johannesburg, South Africa. Got in at 9 AM (10 hours ahead of Oregon time). A 6-hour layover then off on a small plane to Maseru, Lesotho. Greeted warmly by World Vision staff and taken to the Lesotho Sun Hotel, which is VERY nice and is a sharp contrast to the rest of the area–very western, modern and even has TV with a half dozen channels. Two restaurants, a casino, health club and more. It also has an internet-equipped business office, but it doesn’t open until 8AM and it closes at 8 PM so at this time I am doubtful I can use it.

We were ridiculously tired on the first night but met at about 8 PM for dinner. Food was good but took way too long to be served. We Americans are used to quicker service and our impatience around the table proved this. Sleep well but awoke every two hours for some reason. Bed was comfortable and even came with good pillows.

March. 2

Up at 6:30 AM. Actually went down to the health club for a short workout this morning–what is wrong with me?! Good breakfast buffet but find I am more at ease trying to stick with more western foods–I like bacon and eggs.

On the road by 8:00. Our first stop is the World Vision Headquarters for Lesotho. Cramped office but we arrive in time to join in for devotions. They had asked us to perform something this morning and so Junko, Andy Allen, Jason Gay, and Steve Wilent are nominated. When we arrive for chapel we crowd into a very small room with a huge table in it for board meetings. Devotions are great but the room is not conducive to performing, although we manage. However, since we are running late we cut our program, which means, of course, they cut the drama. (You can tell that musicians are running the show 🙂 So Steve doesn’t get to perform, but no problem really, as there was standing room only in the space.

After we sing a few choruses and we are totally blown away by the World Vision Staff who jump to their feet and sing for us. Very good! We sing together a familiar song and then they sing in Sesotho and it is stunningly beautiful. We are very welcomed and this time of worship together was very cool.

Next it is time to go to visit a project. We load up in the vehicles. Mostly Toyota 4-wheel drive pickups with four doors and back seats. A driver and 3 or 4 passengers. A little cramped but doable. Our driver is Chris and he is very knowledgeable and fun to be around. Jenny, Steve, Junko and me in our vehicle.

We drive about an hour in some very beautiful country. Think Utah for a comparison. Flat-top mountains, canyons and at this time of year, green. Also the day is marked by a constant change in weather from clouds to sun to wind to rain, which repeats over and over. We arrive at the project headquarters, a fairly modern building with offices and a large meeting room. We all sit in a large circle in the meeting room- about 20 people representing staff, volunteers and committee members. This is kind of an awkward meeting. Introductions and then we decide to sing for them, only as Andy is pulling out the guitar to start, they immediately start singing at the same time. I think it was a missed signal. But they are great and I sort of feel like they out-shone us artists. Language is more of a barrier than I expected. Like Kenya, this country is bilingual, but it is clear that English is a second language for them. Most of the Africans are speaking to us through an interpreter.

Next stop is a World Vision school. This was AWESOME. There were riders on horseback that escorted us from the highway to the school (about two miles). Halfway there they were joined by people from the village: school children, dancers and singers. It turned into a huge parade and it was so humbling to see the outpouring of good will and excitement from the people just because we were there. The whole village sang for us and then we sat at school desks and girls from the school performed several dances for us. The people are beautiful and have the most awesome smiles. Like Kenya, the kids love to touch you. We were told that many Africans in this part of the country think of white people as having no fault and that to be white is a blessing. Touching a white person brings them luck.

We had lunch after the performance. They prepared a rather interesting porridge for us–traditional–it was edible but not something I wanted the recipe for. Fried Chicken and French fries for lunch.

Next stop was a meeting with caregivers for HIV/AIDS patients. Now we are getting into the more serious stuff. These people are nurses that visit the sick daily and help with caring for them. Nursing tasks, cleaning and cooking are just a few of the things they do. All volunteer. This is not an easy task. Most people who are sick live in denial that they have the disease. World Vision is doing all it can to educate and care for them but it is hard when the people don’t want to admit they are sick or at risk, and won’t get tested. This meeting turned emotional. They, too, sang for us and we prayed for them.

Then we visited some HIV/AIDS patients. First was a young teenage girl, living with her parents. She has “TB” but it is mostly what they feel comfortable calling the disease because TB has some hope of a cure where AIDS does not. Her father is also infected. Then we visited a woman who is quite sick (more visibly with the sores and all). She has a beautiful daughter who is 7 and is feared that she, too, is sick. This woman, even with this more advanced stage, doesn’t want to admit she is sick with AIDS. So sad.

We have one more visit to make and this one is a bit of a drive up a mountain road–although to call it a road is a bit of joke. It is a good thing we are in a four-wheel drive. Here we meet grandparents who are caring for a one-year-old whose mother died from the disease just a month or so after the baby was born, and the baby is also infected and will not live long. Very moving.

At the same time the people of the village are with us as we visit this child, and the mood is strange. They are all in hyper-celebration mode with us there but at the same time we are confronting a very sad situation. The women make a high-pitched screaming noise to communicate their happiness and welcome to us.

We return very tired to another late night meal and rest before we start up again for another full day beginning at 7:30 AM.

Wed. March 3

After a good breakfast we load up at 7:30 for an hour and half drive to another ADP. Our day begins with a meeting of healthcare workers and volunteers that make up the support group for HIV/AIDS patients. We begin with devotions and more singing. These villagers love to sing and so far every meeting includes them singing for us. Singing seems to be almost a form of gift giving and both sides are appreciative of what the other has brought. The meetings consist of introductions and Q&A.

We also visited a plant nursery where young men in the 20-30 age range are learning to grow trees and vegetables for the village and also for micro-enterprise. These young men are very industrious and it is pointed out that this job is in addition to other responsibilities in the family and village. When questioned about their dreams for the future their answers are in sharp contrast to the values in our own country. They want to help develop their country. They want to help make their village better so they can be proud of it. Try getting that kind of answer out most of our youth in America.

The “highlight” this day is a visit to the home of a couple of AIDS orphans. Relebhile, 14-year-old girl and her 7-year-old brother, Tsepang live on their own after losing both parents. We see their former home: a broken down brick building, windows broken, holes in the thatch roof. It is one room with a cowhide for a bed and a little fireplace for cooking and heat. World Vision has built them a new home, and latrine. While certainly no palace, the new home is two-room, cinder block and has food storage, a bed and a more modern cook stove. Keep in mind that NONE of these homes has electricity and all the villagers live a very primitive lifestyle. The children are pulled from school to come and visit us. The girl is happy and, while I think overwhelmed by us, she is happy to share her home circumstances with us. Several on our team are quite moved by this situation. Even though their situation is improved they are still quite vulnerable–their grandfather has taken their house key and comes whenever he wants, basically stealing their provisions. World Vision is aware of this and the project manager is working on a solution.

Andy and Pam Allen on our team are moved by these two precious children, and notice that the bed the children share is not very impressive and offer to buy them a new bed. While this gesture is appreciated, it makes for a difficult situation because to help them also singles them out from others in the village, and we come to understand the reality of trying to help one child and not all the others in the village. This is something that World Vision is very aware of and I am even more appreciative of their sponsorship model of helping the entire project not just the sponsored child. A solution is reached: we shall buy the bed for the children but also buy each of the 8 surrounding families some pots and pans. All of us are going to chip in for this.

We visit a couple of other AIDS patients and this proves difficult for all of us. We feel awkward staring at what one might call “living dead.” The entire team seems unsettled by these visits.

An hour and a half drive back to town and pizza for dinner! A good time!

When I look in the mirror I am surprised by the red glow coming off my face and regret that I did not cover myself in sunscreen.

Thursday, March 4

After another good breakfast we are on the road again. This time to visit beautiful preschool children. They are unbelievably cute, as they, of course, sing for us and we for them. It is photo opportunity time as we each get pictures taken for our use in promoting World Vision. I am drawn to one little boy and spend time trying to communicate with him. I decided before leaving on this trip that sponsoring another child is a possibility. I ask if the little boy is sponsored and am told he is not. We are not certain if he is in the World Vision program so they are going to check that out for me. His name is Masilo Nbabeni and he is only 2 or 3. Very adorable–I think Lorie will approve.

Next we meet with another support group for HIV/AIDS patients. This meeting is better than the one yesterday, at least for me. After the sing-off we ask questions. The numbers here start to hit home as they share with charting how many have the disease and how many have died in the past month–over 40, both male and female, adults and children. During this meeting a shift seems to take place among our entire team, as we start to realize that these people need something from us. Something more than us telling them we are going to tell their story when we get home. We stand and give them words of encouragement. We express our gratitude for them being the hands and feet of God. These are people who regularly visit and care for these sick people. They have a difficult job and yet seem to do it with a good attitude. I share with the group a few insights from my own recent experience with the death of my mother in-law: the idea that sharing Christ becomes the most important thing in what remains of their time on earth. It strikes us all that these people are God’s hands in caring for the suffering. We are in awe of them.

We visit a young woman who is dying of AIDS. She is actually a sponsored child and though now in her 20s, her sponsor family is still supporting her. While this is not normal, World Vision is keeping her in the program to keep her health care coming.

Off to town to buy a bed for the orphans we met yesterday, then back to the hotel for dinner and a emotional time of sharing our impacts for the week so far. We leave at 7 AM tomorrow for a few more visits.

Friday, March 5

One thing we won’t be able to say is, “I miss the rain down in Africa” because it is pouring today. Rain is considered a blessing here. The fact that it rained on the day we arrived and on our last day here is considered by the local people to be a very good thing.

Last night we bought a bed for the orphans and today we are off to deliver the bed, as well as purchase some pots and mealy meal for the local neighbors to the orphans so they won’t feel neglected when we bring gifts for the children. This outing proves to be a bit of an adventure as we somehow miscommunicated our meeting place with our main host, “Lucky” (we can’t pronounce his name but it means “Lucky” so we call him that). After our purchase we go to the home of the orphans and deliver the goods. This was so neat. The kids are grateful, if a little unsure quite how to respond. The phase “too many chiefs” comes to mind as we deliver the bed. The adults in the village want us to leave the plastic covering on the bed to protect it. However, we think it should be removed to keep it from mildew and to allow it to breath (even though wrapped in plastic, it is wet from the rain that has found its way inside from the trip to the village). We compromise and slit the plastic to remove the bed so it can dry but leave it for them to put back in later.

The gift of the pots to the villagers prompted more songs from them and then back from us. Music has become our common language. The pots immediately go up on their heads creating a great photo opportunity. We leave the village with a good feeling of having done something significant to help.

Next we go to a primary school for kids in more the junior high age. More singing and finally some DRAMA. These kids put on a play about HIV/AIDS that is excellent. Even though we can’t understand the words we get the message and understand the story. Steve and I are very encouraged to see our art form used in such a way. Once again we share a Q&A with an HIV/AIDS support group and feel we were an encouragement to them. Steve takes the opportunity to perform a portion of The Gospel of John before our closing prayer and it seems to connect with them. So now Steve is an international performer.

It is time for goodbyes as we go back to the project headquarters for a final meal in the field and farewell speeches. The World Vision staff here give us gifts, each of a traditional Lesotho straw hat. Nice, but I don’t know how I am going to pack it. Maybe I’ll just wear it home…NOT. We get into party mode and join them in trying to do some of their dances. Lots of laughs, more pictures, more singing.

On the way back to the city we take a detour in the country to drive by the king’s palace. We can’t get too close but the view is incredible. A fun bit of trivia: Prince Harry arrived while we were here. He has apparently been bad (partying and such) and so the Queen has sent him to Lesotho for some character building time, supposedly 2 months. He is to help the poor while he is here. I have no idea what that means for him. Anyway, our hotel was overrun on Wed. with the British foreign press who were following the story. When we get to our hotel tonight, who is there but Prince Harry! I am not sure, but assume he came there to play in the casino–such discipline!

A bit of a surprise when I get to my room: my key won’t open the door! The hotel master key also will not unlock it. I am thinking the worst–that someone got into the room through the window and stole my stuff and bolted the door from the inside. But fortunately this is not the case. They have to break the lock to get the door open and I am moved to a new room.

Off to the Italian restaurant we ate at a couple nights ago. Many of the World Vision national staff are there to join us. Good time around the table.

Tomorrow we leave. We will finally get a few hours in the morning to do some shopping. I am ready to endure the long ride home. I miss my family. I miss my wife.

2003 Year in Review


Dear Friends,

“It was the best of times…it was the worst of times…” No…not a Dickens classic but a fairly accurate description of 2003 for this ministry and life with the Neighbors family. Yes, it is time once again for the “annual update.”

The Ministry

This fall I am beginning to see things return to “normal” for the ministry (a ministry that thrives on anything but normalcy), and by normal I refer to the after- effects of 9/11. Talk to anyone in the area of touring ministry and they will tell you that it has been a hard go since that infamous day. Now, finally, I am seeing more interest in bookings–pastors are starting to call more–that is good news indeed. It has meant I have been on the road much of the fall–perhaps too much (just ask my wife)! It has been a real privilege to watch our associates Steve Wilent and Jeremy Hoffman as they go out to churches, camps and schools to perform their one-man productions to enthusiastic audiences. Lorie, my wife, also renewed her interest in performing by developing a drama for women’s groups!

Kimberly Harris, my office assistant, began working for us in January and made quite a splash. A few months into the job she had a baby and then shortly after that was in a car accident. She is doing well now, but the recovery from the accident was a cause for much concern and prayer.

Every Friday night this past year we have been performing an Improv Comedy show at a local restaurant here in Salem. A blessing for the local performers to have a place to use their talents and a blessing for Salem to have a good, clean, family-friendly entertainment option.

It has been a busy year for me on the conference circuit as I taught and performed at a number of Worship Arts Conferences across the country and look to do even more of that in 2004! (It as a special privilege to deliver the keynote address at one of those conferences!)

One of the best things that happened to this ministry in recent years is our partnership with the relief organization, World Vision. To date we have been able to acquire over 800 child sponsors for some of the world’s poorest children. What a tremendous blessing.

Family Life

This has been a tough year for us in the Neighbors household. After a long bout with cancer Lorie’s mother, Billie Scullard, went to be with our Lord. My own parents are struggling in their senior years–my father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. My mother has had back surgery, open-heart surgery, and hip surgery twice all in the same year she is still struggling to recuperate.

Our boys continue to be both a joy and a challenge…teenagers…enough said? Our oldest, Jonathan is enjoying a year of study at Capernwray Bible College on an island of the coast of British Columbia, Canada. Ryan is a junior in high school and Liam is a 7th grader. Both love their music and our home is often the rehearsal hall!

All in all, I am still in awe of what God is doing through this ministry. In our entertainment culture there has never been a better time to be communicating the Good News in creative ways. It is constantly being confirmed to us that what we do is reaching people that might not be reached in other, more traditional ways.

We thank you for standing with us in this ministry. Your prayers are appreciated. Your financial support is not taken for granted. We could not do what we do without people like you.

Have a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Kenya Mission Trip

Below are several emails that serve as a sort of journal for our trip to Africa. The first one is from Chuck the others are all from Lorie. I hope you enjoy reading them. The missions team we were privileged to lead consisted of: Chuck & Lorie Neighbors, Jonathan Neighbors, Erik Williams, Jeremy Hoffman and Joe Hydes. You can click on the smaller pictures below to see larger ones.

Date: Sun, 03 Mar 2002 12:27:16 +0000
Subject: Greetings from Africa
(That’s Swahili for hello!)
We are having an absolute blast over here. I wish you could be here with us. This has been an overwhelming experince so far. The trip was exhasting (no surprise there!) Had 11 hours to kill in London and went to Victoria Station and Buckingham Palace.Day one consisted of arrival late morning and just getting out of the airport and to Rosslyn Academy was an experience to remember. The traffic in Nairobi is … well on steroids. We determined to fight the jetlag by staying awake all day even though we were dead tired. We went to a street market and experienced some first hand bartering–quite an education. I swear that the US car salesmen have nothing on these venders! We are staying with a wonderful missionary family the house is a mansion in Kenya standards and still very nice upper middle class home by US standards. Yesterday we had a FULL day. Visited a Kenyan home in and garden in the countryside for tea (think storage shed). Up to Rift Valley lookout, dodging baboons in the highway. Home for lunch and then out to eat at the Safari Club. Ate Zebra, Giraffe, Gazelle, Hartabest, Beef and Chicken. This place also had a floor show (think Las Vegas meets Nationl Geographic). Mostly dance that was uninspired and then all the sudden in the middle of the show these acrobatic dancers who just blew us away, incredible stuff! The back to the boring dancers for another half an hour.This morning was awesome!! We performed at Sunshine Academy, a boarding school for high school age Kenyon boys, 600 of them. These are the elite of Kenya and considered to be the future leaders of the country. While not a Christian school, the are required to attend Christian services -(the president of Kenya is a Christian and this is his school). We did Road to Jericho and the response was a dream. They laughed responded beyond our wildest imagination. Catching us all off guard. Erik preached afterwards and there were about 25 decisions for Christ and another 20 recommitments. We stayed and prayed and visited afterwards for about an hour. They have kept us busy! Hardly any time to email so this afternoon we have a few minutes to catch up. You were on my mind and I just wanted to get you a quick update. Please keep praying for us. Some of the team are fighting some cold symptoms. Nothing serious but still a distraction. Some of you may get some of this same information from Lorie.Blessings,Chuck
Date: Sat, 2 Mar 2002 23:57:06 -0500
Jambo! I’m sorry it has taken this long to e-mail all of you, but this is the first free moment we have had! We arrived safely in Nairobi what would be Friday, March 1 for them, after a couple of 9 hour flights, with an 11-hr layover in London. The flights were perfect in every way and all of our luggage was waiting for us on the belt when we got thru customs! It is Sunday afternoon here, and we are all on computers in the media center at Rosslyn Academy e-mailing our loved ones (Barb and Bryan, Jeremy is safe and well and trying to get an e-mail thru to you).Where to begin? Nairobi is a huge city which is absolutely, stunningly beautiful in its natural beauty, and heart-breakingly wretched in its man-made poverty and filth. We have all been ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the vegetation (they actually have poinsettia trees here! I’m bringing one back for next year’s Evening in Dec., Dave!) You just would not believe the beauty. The folks we are staying with have a banana tree in their back yard, and boy, do they taste good (the bananas, not the people we are staying with…) The two things that have struck me the most here are: the no-holds-barred driving – you take your life into your hands every time you go somewhere. They make lanes out of ditches and medians and constantly honk their horns and pull in front of you with no warning. They have these buses – huge van-type things that carry about 20-30 people, always crammed full of people and going VERY FAST! The smell of diesel fuel is overpowering at times. The other thing is the in-your-face aggressiveness of the vendors and people you don’t realize are vendors, who want money from you for every little thing – they are relentless.At the airport we got all our luggage on carts and the guys were doing fine pushing them out to the vehicles in the parking lot. We were met outside by about 6 Kenyan men who I don’t think were even employees of the airport, who offered to help us. Okay, they didn’t offer – they took over, with us saying “no” the whole time. And they’re talking Swahili to each other and we’re thinking they must realize what fools we are. We get to the vehicles and they immediately start unloading the bags, with us saying “Okay, thanks, we’ve got it” the whole time. Kristin Dixon, our contact person, took out some coins and gave them to the main guy and indicated it was for all of them (and yes, they understand English perfectly well – everyone here speaks English). He looked at it with a mad look on his face and held out his hand for more, and I mean, they weren’t leaving till they got more. So one of the men who met us took out some bills and paid them and they finally left shaking their heads. It was sort of scary.BUT–the school is out of the city a little ways, and the folks that Chuck, Erik and I are staying with are in a beautiful residential neighborhood, and it’s another world altogether. Our home is a beautiful 3-story 3-bedroom, 3-bath home with a lovely veranda. Jonathan and Jeremy are staying on campus in a 2-bed guest room (have to go outside to use the bathroom). Joe is staying on our street in another beautiful home. The hospitality has been overwhelmingly wonderful, as these people from Rosslyn have made us feel like royalty. Just to remind you, Rosslyn Academy is a North American school for missionary kids, embassy kids, and some Kenyans who want their children to get an American education, and they will go on to American universities. These are the cream of the crop kids (K-12).The first day we were here we were dog tired and were ready for bed at 3 p.m., but we went to an outdoor marketplace that was a real experience. The Masai people come here from wherever they live every Friday with their hand-made wares, and boy, this is awesome stuff. Well, we were in a daze and decided we’d just look because we were zombied out and would probably end up buying things we regretted later! These vendors were unbelievable! Kristin said she wears a hat and sunglasses so she doesn’t have to make eye contact and just walks on by if she’s not interested. They wanted our hats and our t-shirts to trade for items. Luckily we brought extras for that purpose (you’ll be happy to know we did NOT take off our t-shirts right then and there, although I was so hot I felt like it 🙂 – we will go back next Friday and do some serious shopping (looking for a drum for you, Liam!) The weather is warm but not unbearable – about 80 degrees F. Hardly any insects (although a HUGE flying beetle about 3″ long flew by us at lunch today and almost caused some spilled food – I won’t say whose…). Last night we ate at the Safari Club, a very classy outdoor restaurant where they have a huge spit grilling all kinds of exotic meats and they come around with a grilled animal on a skewer, and slice off some meat for you on your plate. We sampled chicken, beef and pork (not so exotic), then came the hardebeest (my personal favorite…no really!), zebra (or zeeblaw, as the man pronounced it), giraffe, gazelle and others I can’t remember. It was a most enjoyable evening and it was hard to believe we were in a third-world country, as it was very classy.Contrast that with what we did that morning. Kristin arranged for us to visit a Kenyan woman who she’s become friends with, who used to work at R.A. Her name is Mary, and about 6 years ago a team from Salem Alliance raised money and came out and built her a house (she has their photo on her wall to this day, and is SOOOO grateful). By “house” I mean a dwelling made out of concrete blocks for walls, dirt floor, no electricity, metal corrugated roof, a 2-room home where everyone sleeps in the living room. Mary greeted us at the lane with smiles and hugs and she was so honored to have us come and see her. She has NOTHING that we would consider of any worth, but is one of the most joyful, contented people I have met because of her love for God. She had made us some chai (tea), boiling the water over a fire, of course, and had it ready in thermoses. She had gone out and bought a cake, too. She took great pleasure in having us in her home and serving us. Hospitality is extremely important in African culture – they see it as an honor and blessing to have strangers in their homes. She poured us steaming hot tea mixed with milk and sugar. Then she prayed. A beautiful, humble prayer thanking God for bringing us her way. We drank in her hospitality and her tea, which were delicious. I had a hard time holding back the tears during her prayer, and looking around her humble, primitive home. After tea she showed us her garden and well. Jonathan made the mistake 🙂 of asking where the toilet was, and was led to the back yard and a hole in the ground. I decided to hold it till we got to the next place… There were two little boys about 4 – adorable (the people here are beautiful), who she was watching and they were out in the yard. I kept hugging them; the one boy’s smiles took my breath away. The other one had tonsillitis and felt horrible, but never complained or fussed. I looked over at him and a single tear fell down his beautiful black skin and my heart broke. That was very hard, but so wonderful, too. I’m wondering how I will ever again take anything for granted or complain when there’s no hot water for a shower or that I didn’t have time to dust my house that week.Today was amazing (Sunday morning). We did our first performance, at Sunshine Academy, a boarding school for 650 Kenyan boys! Not a Christian school (10% are Christians), but the president of Kenya is a Christian, so he appointed a chaplain at this school (a very prestigious school) and the chaplain (who we are staying with!) invited us to do the Sunday morning worship service. We did our main play that we’ve been working on for Rosslyn, which is about 35 minutes long. They were a fabulous audience, they roared with laughter (thankfully, at the funny parts) and loved the play. Afterward, Erik spoke to them and held them with rapt attention. He invited them to have a relationship with Jesus at the close of his talk and about 50 raised their hands. Afterward we shook hands with almost every one of them 🙂 and about 10 came to us asking for prayer or asking questions about their salvation. Very earnest, sincere. We were flying high after that.Visited an elephant orphanage afterward on our way home and saw several warthogs (think Pumbaa) in addition to baby elephants who have been rescued in some way. Yesterday while we were sightseeing we saw about 10 baboons along the highway. Erik and Jonathan were making all of these strange noises out the window (they were either trying to scare them off or mate, I’m not sure…) We spend much time laughing at Erik, Jeremy and Jonathan. Erik is absolutely fearless, will talk to anyone and instantly draws people to himself – it’s inspiring just to watch him in his humble way communicate with people. About an hour after we arrived at Rosslyn Friday we were eating lunch and we looked over and Erik was talking to two Norwegian boys in fluent Norwegian. The looks on their faces will stay with me for a long time – pure joy and appreciation for this unique and loving man!Tonight we are enjoying a potluck supper with the Rosslyn staff, and look forward to meeting all of them. Tomorrow starts our week here at the school. The students are anticipating something exciting and new, but I think they are skeptical because their previous speakers for their Spiritual Emphasis Weeks have been disappointing. I think God has a different plan for this week!Well, I hope I haven’t bored you to tears. Just know that we are all having the time of our lives and are so glad we came. God is working in us and it is such a privilege to be here doing his work! I’ll e-mail again…until then,Kwaheri,
Date: Mon, 4 Mar 2002 12:45:42 -0500
Subject: Still alive and well in Kenya
Hi y’all! Just wanted to let you know that we are still alive and kicking! It’s Monday evening at about 8:30 and we are completing our first day serving Rosslyn Academy – what a wonderful day! We did a 9:00 a.m. chapel service, which we’ll be doing every day for spiritual emphasis week. Middle and high school kids together crammed about as tightly as you can get them. Erik, Jonathan and Jeremy and some students led out in worship and sounded great! The students instantly connected with Erik (actually the high school students are much more reserved than the middle schoolers, and have more of a ‘prove it to me’ attitude, but they’ll come around). We began with improv, which they absolutely loved! Then Erik and some students did a scripted improv called The Prodigal, and that went over well. Tasted some Kenyan food today…hmmm…not so good. One of their staples is called oogala (like we’d eat rice or potatoes) – it’s like cream of wheat that’s turned into a thick paste that can be sliced – no taste. Ate it with a sauce and some kale. Yummers. Had our first taste of real Kenyan shopping today. Brad & Kristin took us to one of millions of shopping areas where they have these dukas, little lean-to’s, all connected to each other that snake back and around for what must be miles. The vendors see a group of 8 white people coming and they were on us like flies on honey. We’re instantly everyone’s best friend. As we were leaving and going out onto the actual street, a little street urchin, a boy of about 10 with pitiful eyes came up and held out his hand for a coin. I can’t remember who caved in first but one of us dropped a coin into his hand. All of a sudden there were 5, then 10 kids swarming around us with their hands out and we tried to give each of them at least one shilling (less than a penny), then we started to recognize the same faces again coming back for more (it was hard to tell them apart), so finally we had to just walk straight ahead – they followed us to the parking lot two blocks away. That was hard. The poverty here is raw and in your face.This is definitely not a hardship mission trip. We are in a lush, beautiful area with fabulous people who are so excited that we are here and all of our needs are being met. The hard thing is seeing others’ hardships – the Kenyan people – and not being able to relate to them in any way whatsoever.Please pray for Erik, Joe and Jonathan, as all have colds (and for the rest of us that we don’t catch them). Pray that the high schoolers open up and allow God to touch their hearts.I hope you are all well – we miss you! Please write back – no one responded to my first e-mail 🙁 and it would be REEEEEALLY NICE to get some mail! We all live for these evenings when we can come to the computer room and check our mail.Love and hugs, Lorie (Mom)
Date: Tue, 5 Mar 2002 23:20:52 -0500
Subject: God is in control!
I am still sort of in shock after learning of yet another way that God has protected us on this mission to Kenya. You probably remember that we were scheduled to visit a World Vision project – to see what they do over here, since Chuck in an artist rep for them. We were told that the project we were to visit was considered “intimidating and dangerous” and that we’d be escorted by armed guards. We had the choice of any day this week, and we had chosen Thursday. You may have heard on the news that yesterday (Monday), in a Nairobi slum, there was a massacre where 20 people were killed. The slum was called Kariobangi. The World Vision site we were to visit was called Kariobangi. When Kristin came in with an e-mail about an hour ago from the W.V. people saying that the visit was cancelled and why, we just stood there silent for awhile, then all silently thanked God for His protection. Is there any doubt that He is an awesome God who is in control of our lives and of this trip?I am thankful for many things this week. The weather is incredible – not too hot, and even a bit cloudy (for this Northwesterner who can’t stand anything above 85!) My health, which has been quite finicky lately 🙂 has been PERFECT over here (better!). Specifically, I have this pesky rib that keeps slipping out of joint, and in the past 2 weeks in Salem I’d been to the chiro 3x. With all of the sitting on the planes, then driving we’ve done on bumpy roads, sliding around in the vehicles, my back feels perfect, and coincidentally that rib has stayed right where it belongs! The food has all agreed with me – not even a hint of an upset stomach (and I realized yesterday I’d been brushing my teeth with tap water and we aren’t supposed to!) It’s so neat!In a few minutes we’re going with Kristin, Brad and family to a giraffe “thing” – not sure exactly what it’s called, where we are on an upper platform and their heads are right there, and we can feed them. Then we’re going to visit the home of Karen Blixen, the woman who the movie Out of Africa was about (she’s dead, of course, and will not be there). We were at a golf course/country club the other day where one of the scenes from that movie was filmed. Just a bit of trivia for you movie buffs! I know I’ll want to rent that movie and watch it again!Tomorrow I am going for a one-hour full body massage that will cost $15.00 U.S. Somebody’s got to rough it, so I volunteered (Joe had one today, and Jonathan wants me to schedule one for him, too (yes, the money is coming out of our pockets – not the support money for the trip!!!). Oh, and did I mention I’m having a pedicure too? Kristin’s treat. They are so inexpensive, she likes to treat her guests in that way. How could I say no?Friday is the orphanage, where we’ll deliver all of the wonderful items that many of you have donated. One of our new friends told me today that going to that orphanage has been the highlight of her year here so far. The children will sing for us and will be so happy we are there, and “all over us.” I can’t wait. I will be an emotional wreck, I’m sure (Joe says we’ll both cry together), but it will be very uplifting, too. I’ll let you know how that goes.Gotta run! The giraffes are waiting for us. Love you all.Kwaheri,
Date: Sun, 10 Mar 2002 01:53:38 -0500
Subject: Counting down to takeoff time!
hi there! (this will be in all lower case, because the keyboards are really weird with the shift key) it’s sunday evening here and tomorrow night we are leaving kenya for england to begin our journey home! i can’t wait to see everyone again. i miss my boys, i miss my friends, i miss my bed (sorry, I don’t miss work, but i do miss my coworkers!!) i heard it snowed in salem!! that will be really hard to get used to after 2 weeks in paradise.we ended up visiting a world vision project on thurs. and it was not at all dangerous and very interesting. unfortunately, we didn’t get to see any sponsored kids 🙁 saw some small businesses that w.v. has helped people to start and visited a clinic way out in the country.the orphanage visit was friday and that was really something. first, what was supposed to be an hour’s drive took about 2 1/2 because of traffic, then all of a sudden the road was closed. they were doing road work on this country road (actually i think they were paving it for the first time, since it was DIRT) and all of a sudden there was a huge mound of dirt blocking the entire road (not even a ditch to turn into a lane this time!) and we couldn’t go any farther. my mind wandered a bit and i actually entertained the thought that after all this planning and excitedly collecting donations for this place, that we wouldn’t be able to get there! a couple of local men were speaking to our driver (in Swahili, of course), pointing, etc. and finally the driver told us there was a road “over there” that we could take. we started driving…keep in mind we are out in the country and we are now driving through a field on a “road” that isn’t really a road. we take this turn up a long hill on another “road” and end up in someone’s yard (dead end). well, we were really getting discouraged now, when all of a sudden this man we’d talked to 10 minutes ago (about a mile back) runs up to the bus (he’s about 55 years old, and he obviously just ran to catch us) and tell us we took the wrong “road” and he would help us find it. It was so neat, he hopped on the bus and directed us the entire way. Our first angel.we were met at the gate by about 20 children and workers, who came swarming out when they heard the bus (which they’ve been waiting for for an hour and a half), with big smiles and outstretched hands. introductions were made by Mama Zapporah, the wonderful, warm lady who runs the home with her hubby, Papa Isaac. then we began a tour of the place. what stuck out in my mind the most, since i can’t explain everything, was the happiness of the children, first. I expected that i’d be really upset and crying the whole time, but their joy buoyed our spirits. i admit it was hard when we visited the first little shack, where about 6 toddlers lay sleeping or just sitting on filthy, urine-soaked mattresses on the floor. two of them sat there with their big brown eyes looking up at this group of strangers peering in at them while mama explained things. i motioned to her “can i go in?” and she nodded. i went in and sat on the edge of a mattress and held out my arms to this adorable little 2-year old girl, who just melted into my arms on my lap (no pampers there, i soon realized 🙂 that was hard, just looking at these sweet little children and realizing they had no parents to love them. but the neat thing is, there ARE other people who love them, and that’s great for them. at least they have mama zapporah. joe and i were a little misty-eyed as we left that place. we saw their classrooms, their sleeping quarters (about 16 bunkbeds crammed into a room; they sleep about 3 to a twin bed), and their kitchen. woodstove with little ventilation inside a room, with two huge pots of food cooking. smelled good! mama z. introduced us to a boy who’d just come to them that week. he stood meekly and sweetly at her side as she told us about him. he has HIV and typhoid and a couple of other things that i can’t remember. i said a little prayer asking god to help me never complain about my little aches and pains again.because we were late, we had to leave earlier than planned to get back to the school in time, so unfortunately we didn’t get to see the clothing being unloaded (someone did it as we were taking the tour), or anyone’s reaction to it, but they will put it to good use (and looking at their beds, those sheets will be loved, sharon and audra!) each of us had a little hand grasping ours as took the tour (my little hand belonged to a darling little boy of about 4, Brian), and each time we sat, both thighs were taken up with at least 2 children, who were so content to just be held and loved by us for a short time.this weekend was our safari and it was an incredible experience. we saw elephants, zebra, giraffe, wildebeest (think lion king), wart hog (ditto) lions, hippos, and others i can’t remember. we stayed in a 5-star hotel (don’t think american hotels), swam in a beautiful pool surrounded by palms and ate the most incredible food i’ve ever had. such a contrast to the orphanage outing, but kenya is full of contrasts!gotta run – we’re going out to dinner tonight with brad, kristin and the kids and i don’t want to keep them waiting. i will look forward to seeing you all in a very short time!! love you! Lorie (aka madamyouwanttobuy?)
Date: Mon, 11 Mar 2002 20:29:02 -0500
Subject: greetings from London!
okay, i said you wouldn’t hear from us again till we were home…but here we are in beautiful london paying one pound for 15 minutes of internet time in our hotel lobby. we landed at 4:45 a.m. london time from nairobi, and we can’t check into our rooms till noon. it’s now 9:30…we’ve walked the streets for an hour looking for a restaurant that was open so we could eat breakfast (ended up backtracking to a mcdonalds we saw when we first got out of the underground train area!) jeremy and erik are asleep on couches in the lobby, joe is shopping for teapots and chuck and i are planning what we’ll do today. we’re excited that we’ll try to see les miserables tonight and we’re all going to see the lion king tomorrow night. we’re all tired but in great spirits(and we still like each other 🙂 the change in climate is quite a shock; think i’ll try to buy some gloves and a scarf today! well, jonathan wants to check e-mail, so i’ll log off. love to you all, lorie
From: Date: Fri, 15 Mar 2002 01:43:57 -0500Subject: We are home!It is so good to be back!! I walked around the house smiling at just being here in my own home in Salem, Oregon once again. We got back home at 11 p.m. Thursday, which was 8 a.m. Friday on our clocks, so we were pretty punchy. Now here it is 6:30 a.m. on Friday and I’m up because I couldn’t sleep. Go figure!Anyway, just wanted to let you know we’re safely home. We’ll talk soon.Lorie
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