“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
My song “Niels” is a song that I wrote the lyrics to in La Paz, Bolivia, when I was on a trip there with Teen Mania Ministries. Having just graduated, I ventured out of the country to this South American country where my privileged white U.S. citizen worldview was drastically shaken. There I was encountered with poverty, much closer to absolute than I had ever experienced. Teen Mania does drama presentations of the Gospel, and as we toiled to learn motions to the soundtrack, we auditioned before the leaders who would decide who would play which part. Apparently, I was able to make the most pained (or compassionate) facial expression, because they gave me the role of Jesus (the Miracle Man). The timing of the choreography was pretty simple…with the exception of the brutal crucifixion scene where I was beaten, thrown down numerous times, and eventually crucified on a cross made by other actors – all in time with some fast paced music. While, yes, these actions were mimed quite masterfully (if I do say so ;-), every once in a while I took a blow, and I landed just right on the stone streets to have bruises on my knees, hips, elbows and forearms…and palms. Then someone finally saw my bruises and said, “Oh, didn’t anyone give you elbow and knee pads?…here you go.” 😛 Thanks. But let’s not kid ourselves. I loved it. I was sharing in Christ’s sufferings in kind of a literal way. For that passionate 18 year old, it hurt so good.
One thing about having the role of Jesus is that by the end of the drama presentation I was so out of breath that I couldn’t talk (La Paz being the highest capital city in the world, at 12,700ish ft didn’t help either). But I would try to go out into the crowd with a contact from a local church to pray with people. Most of those are a blur though. One day I remember though. I went out into the crowd, speaking in my broken spanish. I always confused the words pecados and pescados, which, if I didn’t choose the right one I would ask people if they would like to pray to ask the Lord to forgive them of their fish (instead of sin). Apparently, this time I did it right. I spoke with a man named Niels, and as I began to ask him if he understood the drama, he just looked at me, and as his eyes welled up with tears, he placed his hand over his heart. I called over the interpreter and we prayed for Neil to receive the Lord into his life.
That interaction played a huge role in my walk of Faith. God showed me how I get to join Him in reaching the world. He even uses imperfect, bruised, and broken, little ol’ me. Hallelujah.
By Joel Bidderman
Hopeless eyes with no signs of life
Lonely cries echo in the darkest night
No one denies, they all look for something more
A reason to rise, to wake and keep on fighting this war
As they ache with a pain that can’t be reached
With Christ’s love let’s reach out to let them see
There’s an answer to the questions they’re asking
There’s a water that will quench their thirsting
That in the dark there’s a light that shines all night
And this light shines out from the one called Christ
Aching cries, “Will you give me life?”
Lost eyes, “Will you give me a home?”
They all thrive asking, “Give me more?”
“Give me a life, one that won’t leave me asking for more”
As they ache with a pain that can be reached
With Christ’s love let’s reach out to let them see…
©1997 Joel A Bidderman
Vocal & Guitar: Joel Bidderman
Keys: Jake Parsons