I know Anna Miriam Brown – the author – she is my granddaughter! And I know that she grew up in a home where nearly every morning after breakfast, her dad leads a family time of Bible reading, explaining it so the kids can understand, singing together in worship, and a time of prayer. Her father is a gifted musician and worship leader. And when they were little, Anna’s mom or dad would tuck them in with a prayer and then sing them to sleep with worship songs. When I stayed for a visit in their home when Anna was a teen, she was not the only one in the family who, like me, found a special quiet place in the morning to read the Bible and pray. Anna loves God’s Word, knows God’s Word, and knows its power. The family didn’t have a TV, but did watch carefully chosen videos and movies – they especially enjoy watching musicals – and probably can still sing every song in The Sound of Music and Fiddler on the Roof! Both the Bible and musicals have a special place in her heart and life.
When she was about fourteen the family moved to Ukraine joining my husband and I as missionaries. My husband established an extension campus for a Ukrainian Bible college: L’viv Theological Seminary. The family’s ministry focused on volunteering at orphanages, and working with teens and with gypsies, and serving with a new church plant. It was at that time that Anna went on a short trip to Africa to help with a medical outreach to the Masai in Kenya – and when another girl volunteering introduced her to the musical Hamilton. God put it on her heart to create a musical about the life of Jesus.
It took about a year to write all the songs. Then they found an amazing, on-fire Christian, music producer in Poland – Pawel Zarecki. A chaperone was needed to go to Poland with seventeen year old Anna and her fifteen-year-old sister Rachel, along with the son of a missionary family, (about their same age) to sing most of the male parts. I was delighted to be that chaperone! It was such an exciting time – to start step one the process of making the audio recording of the musical. They were creating the arrangements, and recording the “scratch tracks” – from which the sheet music will be made and the artists will learn the songs.
While we were in Poland, I remember Pawel talking about the song “Willing.” He saw in the words of Jesus taken directly from Mathew 8 “I am willing” as a beautiful hint of His later words in John 8:58 – a direct reference to Exodus 3:14 – “I AM”. And he was thinking of maybe creating a crescendo leading up to the words sung as a proclamation, to demonstrate that it may mean more than just the obvious. But he decided finally upon a simple but profound break of silence just before Jesus’ calm and gentle words “I am willing; be cleansed.”
Anna’s original motivation for writing this musical was to get people to go, open up the Bible and read it – to see if it’s true and to get the rest of the story. She knows that the Bible is our one true and unchanging source of knowledge of God. She knows that through the words of Scripture, the Holy Spirit can open a door into the hearts and minds of people – God’s Word is alive and powerful! This musical is scriptural because its author knows that Scripture is the foundation of the powerful effect it can have on everyone who hears and sees His Story The Musical.
Desert, Arad, Israel
Photos of Anna from where she and and mother are currently spending a season of prayer in preparation for this special event: