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.

Chuck

2001 – Year in Review

November 23, 2001

Dear Friends,

It’s the day after Thanksgiving and my thoughts are still focusing on the many things that I am thankful for: family, friends, our country and the freedoms we enjoy. High on my list is this ministry that the Lord has entrusted to me–I do not take it for granted and am so very blessed to be able to serve our Lord in such a creative, unique and powerful ministry.

There are several things I want to communicate in this letter.  The first is that from now on all newsletters will be sent via email as well as being available here at www.mastersimage.com.  So if you want to keep hearing from us, we need your email address!  Take a moment to send us an email and add drama@mastersimage.com to your email address book. (Remember to notify us if your email address changes.)  The reason for this change is simple a matter of time and money.  We want to be good stewards of both, and since so many are online these days it just makes more sense to use modern technology to keep in touch.  The time and cost it takes to prepare the newsletter are better spent in other areas.

Year in Review

As of this writing 2001 looks to be the best year yet for this ministry.  Hear are some of the highlights of this past year:

  • Approximately 120 performances in 13 different states will have been given by year’s end.
  • Three major productions directed for Salem Alliance Church (where I serve as Artist in Residence) including Evening in December,  a Christmas production which will be seen by an estimated 6,000 people.
  • The development of an improv troupe that performs “good clean” entertainment in the Pacific Northwest.
  • The addition of Steve Wilent to the ministry with his one-man production of the Gospel of John.
  • Participation in a number of regional and national drama conferences and festivals, including the Lillenas Drama Conference, National Youth Drama Conference and the National Creative Arts Festival.
  • Through our association with World Vision, a ministry to the world’s poor, over 225 children were sponsored through the child sponsorship program.
  • Some wonderful family time, including a family reunion in Ohio in August!
  • Our strongest year yet in financial support and resources–this in spite of the events of Sept. 11th and the downturn in the economy.  Thanks in part to another wonderful Drama & Dessert, our one and only fundraiser for the ministry.

The September 11th Effect

All of us, I am sure, have been observing the impacts of the terrorist attack on our nation.  Our prayers continue to go out on behalf of those who were directly impacted by the horrible events of that day.  I have also been interested to see how these events impact this ministry.  While our fundraiser was a success, the giving was down from previous years and I am sure this was partially due to the fact that our nation responded so positively to the needs of those affected by the disaster.  The American Red Cross and other charities got our attention, and rightly so.  September and October are traditionally the months when most of my bookings come in for the spring.  Not so this year; there are very few bookings on the calendar for 2002.  At the same time, we have had more requests than ever for Christmas bookings this year.  Last year artist associate, Scott Bettis, began performing our Christmas play, Merry Christmas, Mr. Jones.  It is a good thing, because this year, between the two of us, we will perform that play over 20 times in December. My take is that some churches were too shell-shocked to put together their own Christmas programs this year and turned to other venues to fill that need.  At the same time, urgent ministry needs due to the disaster were paramount and plans for 2002 were put on hold.

All of this is understandable, but does raise some concern for me as to what 2002 will look like.  Please pray for our schedule.  I’m inclined to think that the requests will come in after we get past Christmas.  But regardless, we place our trust in Jesus Christ and know that He is more than able to sustain us and this ministry if He wants it to continue.  We have every reason to believe that He does!  We are especially grateful to those of you who continue to support us with your prayers and financial support!

Family Update

 

As Lorie and I are well into the fortysomethings, it becomes bittersweet to watch our children grow up.  As they seem to need us less I realize just how much I need them.  Such is life, I guess.  Jonathan is 17 and driving–need I say more? He is the tallest in the family at 6’5″ and music is his first love, becoming quite good on the ol’ guitar.  Ryan is 15 and is also into music, both playing the guitar and singing. He had the honor of being on the freshman Homecoming Court at his school this year. Liam, at 10 (maybe 11, by the time you read this) continues to surprise us with talent and intelligence beyond what he inherited from his parents.  He is, however, becoming quite the drummer, which father does feel he contributed to (since he used to weld the sticks rather proficiently). Lorie continues to work part time as a legal secretary.  She is once again bitten by the acting bug and manages to snag an occasional role in plays that I direct.  (She is often accused of having some sort of special influence with the director, which he quickly denies!)

As we bring this year to a close we look forward with great anticipation to all the God has for us in the year ahead.  Please pray for us and this ministry.  May God bless you and hold you close during this Christmas Season!

Blessings,

Chuck Neighbors

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