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The ‘Miraculous’ Journey of Creating and Sustaining ‘Behold Jesus,’ Now in its 26th Year

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The ‘Miraculous’ Journey of Creating and Sustaining ‘Behold Jesus,’ Now in its 26th Year

News Story by Nina Culver | FāVS News

The 26th annual performance of “Behold Jesus,” a performance of Jesus’ life, will be held once again at the First Interstate Center for the Arts in downtown Spokane on April 13.

The performance, which has changed and expanded over the years, was written by the Rev. Alice Darroch of Spokane Dream Center. She and her husband, Dave Darroch, founded the Spokane Dream Center decades ago after they immigrated from England.

Darroch said she never intended to write a play. One night she sat down to write a sermon for service the next day when she was struck by inspiration.

“All of the sudden it was like a movie in my head,” she said. “I saw seven scenes, just like a movie. I knew God was saying, ‘Share it.’”

Still, it took two years of spiritual nudges before she took the first version of the play to her church members to ask for volunteers for a drama.

The Story and the Cast Kept Growing

“Before you knew it, we had 50 people who wanted to join,” she said.

At first it was just one scene. The performers met for practice only once before the performance day. But the drama kept growing.

“For seven years I would add one of those scenes,” she said.

After those seven years were up, the performance had grown too large for the church. It was held in the former Metropolitan Performing Arts Center for a couple years, then moved to its current home at the First Interstate Center for the Arts.

Darroch said she felt like she needed to take a leap of faith.

“It’s been miraculous,” she said. “We’re a small church. We’re not a big church. We felt like we wanted to reach out to people. It’s the word of God.”

The reason why the annual performances are such a leap of faith is the cost. No admission is charged for the performances, but it costs around $25,000 to reserve the location for the day.

“We just trust the Lord that he will provide,” she said. “We don’t pass the bucket or anything.”

No Fundraising Done for the Play

There is also no big fundraising push among church members. Darroch said she simply puts out a basket seeking donations.

“We don’t make a big deal about it,” she said. “It doesn’t come from our regular funds. It just comes in different ways, miraculously.”

As an example, last year she was short $6,000 of the needed amount not long before the performance was scheduled, Darroch said. Then an unexpected gift of exactly $6,000 arrived from a donor who wanted to support the drama.

Darroch said she used to call her play an Easter drama, but now just refers to it as a drama because the performance spans the entire life of Jesus, not just his death and resurrection.

Almost all their costumes and props, which have grown more elaborate over the years, have been donated.

Darroch said she is often just given swaths of material and is asked if she can use it. She and volunteer seamstresses then stitch everything together.

“We make all our own costumes,” she said.

Now, of course, there is a full schedule of rehearsals leading up to performance day rather than just one rehearsal. There are usually more than 100 people involved, particularly in the final scene, which is a reenactment of Revelations 5.

“It’s a beautiful scene at the end,” she said.

Former Drug Addict Turned Associate Pastor Plays Jesus

Associate pastor Joel Maltsberger was recruited to play the role of Jesus several years ago. Maltsberger said a rocky road led him to the Spokane Dream Center. He was a drug addict, along with his brother and his brother’s girlfriend. His brother’s girlfriend got involved with the church, then his brother. Maltsberger visited them and saw that they were different people.

“They were talking about God like they had a relationship with him,” he said. “It made me want what they had.”

He also started attending the church and quit using drugs. After being a member for a while, he was asked to join the staff.

When he first came to the church he had a minor role in the performance. He said he enjoyed seeing the scriptures come to life on stage.

“Pretty much anybody who goes to the church gets involved in the drama,” he said. “It was a life-changing experience for me.”

Then he was asked to take over the role of Jesus, and Maltsberger worked hard to memorize his lines.

“I had a hard time remembering anything,” he said. “My mind, I think, was still recovering. That’s the one thing I was doubting I would be able to do. God gave me the grace to do that.”

He said he’s naturally shy, so never saw himself as someone who would have a major role in a play.

“Playing Jesus was so far away from what I saw myself doing,” he said. “God, I guess, called me to do that. It’s really shown me a lot about myself.”

The performances on April 13 will begin at 1 and 6:30 p.m. The performances will also be live streamed on the church’s website.

Nina Culver
Nina Culver
Nina Culver is a freelance journalist and North Idaho native who has called Spokane home for the last 30 years. She started working at The Spokesman-Review in 1995 as a work study intern while still a journalism student at Gonzaga University and stuck around for the next 22 years, covering everything from religion to crime. She has an adult daughter and two grandsons who keep her hopping and if she has any free time she likes to read.

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