Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Pilgrim's Progress

We saw a fantastic production of Pilgrim's Progress last week put on by The Glory Shop. I was proud of Alexis Duperree and Nealson Munn, who were my students at the Salvation Army Conservatory where I teach and direct most summers. Of course Nealson was playing guitar, so I had nothing to do with that, but I was still proud!

The story is a powerful look at how every path but Jesus leads to death, and even once you choose Him there are trials at every turn.

The script is written by my colleague, Tom Key. He stuck with the 17th century language, but he added a brilliant modem interlude, performed by Alexis.

It was creatively staged by Christopher Monroe, and had possibly the most inventive use of black boxes and PVC pipe I've ever seen! He also got Tom's permission to cast Pilgrim as a woman, well played by Juilliard graduate Kristine Chandler. It heightened the power of the character's choice to leave an unbelieving family behind, fulfilling Luke 14:26: 'Jesus said to them, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple."' It also, in essence, combined the story with the second part in which Pilgrim's wife, Christiana, and their sons make the journey.

Another favorite element for me was the casting of the three angels. Each of their lines was spoken together in English, and then repeated in the actor's native tongue: Spanish, Mandarin, Portuguese. It was a foretaste of Heaven!

I have a very soft spot in my heart for this story, because it was one of the first I helped tell on a New York stage. In the early '90's I was an intern at The Lamb's Church, which had two Off-Broadway theatres. Twins Kurt and Keith Landaas were considering a production of their rock opera Pilgrim's Progress, and I happened to be the one showing them around the theatre. I mentioned to them that I'd love to audition, so they said, "Go for it." So I sang "Do You Hear the People Sing" from Les Misérables a'cappella right there in the balcony. It parlayed into my Off-Broadway debut, and we also performed it in New Jersey and Staten Island. It was a modern adaptation, and I played one of the darker characters. I found out later I was really intimidating some of the cast with faux piercings and borrowed motorcycle boots. LOL!

Watching Tom's script proved to me that Bunyan's allegory doesn't need a modern twist to make it relevant. It addresses many of the same issues we're still dealing with today.

--



A Clear Leading tells the story of Quaker abolitionist John Woolman, who spoke against slavery a century before our Civil War.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Fellowship and Wonders

Joyce and I teamed up this morning at Westchester Chapel.

I open the service with miracle stories from the road, including the story of how the best man at our wedding found healing, as told in his book Waiting for My Fingers. Joyce teaches on Matthew 21:18-22. Here's the full article she mentions from the New York Times: "The Jihadi Who Turned to Jesus." Dr. Linda Warren prays over the sermon and announces that Facing Darkness, a documentary on a Samaritan's Purse doctor who contracted ebola while working with victims of the deadly disease in Africa, will be in theaters nationwide on March 30 and April 10. It will also be playing in New Rochelle. See the trailer below.

Click the arrow below, or if you're reading this in an email you can click this link, to play the service:



This service is available for download free on iTunes, where you can also subscribe to our podcast. Search for "Westchester Chapel" on the iTunes Store.



If you want to more about starting a relationship with Jesus Christ visit www.WestchesterChapel.org/Salvation.

Photo courtesy of NicolettiPhoto.com.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Mission Underground

I got to serve as a consultant on this charming film in which children play adults. It's by the makers of A Matter of Perspective, and they've done a fantastic job!

It's available at www.ChristianCinema.com.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Southern Oregon

Though I've lived in New York City since 1993 I grew up in the Rogue Valley, so I try to get back here as often as I can. Often I perform or screen a film I helped make when I'm here. Hope you'll sign up and that we can connect soon!

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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Asking Jesus about Forgiveness

Joyce teaches on Matthew 18:21-35. Dr. Linda Warren opens the service in prayer.

Click the arrow below, or if you're reading this in an email you can click this link, to play the service:



Here's the imagery Joyce used toward the end of the sermon...



This service is available for download free on iTunes, where you can also subscribe to our podcast. Search for "Westchester Chapel" on the iTunes Store.

If you want to more about starting a relationship with Jesus Christ visit www.WestchesterChapel.org/Salvation.

Photo courtesy of NicolettiPhoto.com.


See the rest of Olympic champion Eric Liddell's Chariots of Fire story by booking Beyond the Chariots.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Living Word


My 50th state was North Dakota.

I could have checked it off the list years ago! I was performing in Moorhead, MN, and I drove past the bridge into Fargo. I passed it by thinking I'd already been to ND. I got back to NYC and looked at a map on my wall: South Dakota! It was South Dakota! But I got to work with some wonderful folks, saw miracle after miracle, and it probably wouldn't have happened if I'd crossed that bridge all those years ago!

---


A Clear Leading tells the story of Quaker abolitionist John Woolman, who spoke against slavery a century before our Civil War.

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Case for Christ documentary

We just watched the documentary The Case for Christ with interviews with Lee Strobel and scholars who helped him gather evidence that Jesus Christ lived, was crucified, resurrected and changed the world.

Lee was an award-winning legal journalist for the Chicago Tribune. When his wife became a Christian he used his skills as an investigative journalist to disprove Christianity. After a two year journey he sat down with a legal pad and wrote down evidence for and against in separate columns. He said when he looked at the avalanche of evidence that the major claims of Christianity were true he realized it would take more faith to believe it didn't happen.

Looking forward to the major motion picture coming out in April.




Registration is now open for the 2017 Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Snow Day

We canceled today's service at Westchester Chapel due to inclement weather, so we're catching up by posting sermons that were recorded but not posted. Click the sermon title below to go to the sermon, which has been posted on this blog in the order of the date preached:
Do What Jesus Did, March 8, 2009: Pastor Joyce Swingle teaches on Acts 5:12-15.
Holiness Unto the Lord, July 17, 2016: Rich Swingle teaches on Exodus 28:36-38.
Breaking Paradigms, October 9, 2016: Pastor Joyce Swingle teaches on Matthew 16:13-20.
Forgiveness and Fellowship: Peacemaker or a Peace Faker? February 5, 1017: Pastor Pastor Joyce Swingle teaches on Matthew 18:15-20.
Here's a song I was going to introduce today, but Dr. Linda Warren will lead it next Sunday. You can get a head start learning it:



If you want to more about starting a relationship with Jesus Christ visit www.WestchesterChapel.org/Salvation.


Registration is now open for the 2017 Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

They Called Him Coach

I just had a delightful surprise watching this documentary on John Wooden, who holds all kinds of records as a basketball coach for UCLA. The one that impressed me the most is that he holds the all-time 40 season winning percentage of .813 (Dayton High School, South Bend Central High School, Indiana State Teachers College, UCLA). That's a whole lotta winning! Along the way came a record ten national championships, seven of those were consecutive (another record), and an 88 game winning streak over three years, and the records go on! What!? Unbelievable!

They Called Him Coach spends some time on his success, but most of the focus is on the foundation of his success and how it was all built upon his relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Every year he started the season handing out his Pyramid of Success, but he never talked about winning! His Pyramid is a number of foundational, biblical principles established through faith and patience to have a successful game... and (always his real point) a successful life.

One of the producers of this film is David McCasland, who produced a documentary on Eric Liddell, also for Day of Discovery. David wrote what I believe is still the authoritative biography on the world-record breaking Olympian-turned-missionary. I got to have dinner with David and his wife Luann after a performance of my play on Liddell.




Registration is now open for the 2017 Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Our Last Stand

ISIS destroyed this church in Syria.
A few years ago,  Jordan Allott was interviewed on FOX NEWS during the same program as Father Gabriel Adde, a Syrian Orthodox priest. After the program Jordan met with the Adde family and soon struck up a conversation with Fr. Adde's daughter Helma. After college Helma, born in Chicago, had lived six months in her family's hometown of Quarmishli in Northern Syria. Jordan was telling Helma about plans to return to that part of the world to film a documentary about the persecution of Christians there, and that Quarmishli was on his itinerary. Helma felt a tinge of jealousy that an American with no ties to the Middle East would be visiting a place she loved so much, but before long Allott asked her if she would like to join him for the journey. He had been looking for someone who knew the cultures of both places to be a bridge for Western viewers.

Last night I saw the documentary of their trip, Our Last Stand, at the Sheen Center for Thought and Culture. They begin their journey in Iraq visiting Christian refugee centers, then they cross the Tigris River into Syria and visit the front lines where Christians are defending themselves against ISIS. When ISIS moves into an area, they identify Christians and other religious minorities and give them 24 hours to either move away, become Muslim, be executed or pay a very high fine.

During the Q and A session following the screening, the Sheen Center's David DiCerto asked Jordan and Helma what they think of the temporary closure of our borders to refugees from Iraq, Syria and other nations that cultivate terrorism. Jordan referenced an interview in the film with a little boy in Iraq. You can see part of it in the trailer below. The boy says that ISIS left them with nothing, and he said he and his people just want to live, and he hopes a country will take them in. Jordan said he would love for all those who have been displaced by what has recently been recognized by the U.N. as the ISIS genocide to have a home in the U.S. He went on to say that it saddens him that this situation is being used as a political statement against the current administration. He asked where the outrage was when President Obama used an executive order to halt the "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" policy with Cuba, leaving many who were in transit deported back to Cuba. He spoke about how Christians and other religious minorities do not feel comfortable staying in UN-sanctioned refugee villages because they know they'll face persecution from Muslims there. He asked where the outrage was when the UN refused to share resources with Christians who created their own refugee camps in churches.

David asked Jordan why he named the film Our Last Stand. Jordan and Helma both made it clear that this is a tragedy for all Christians, and that in a matter of years there truly may not be any churches or Christians left in that part of the world where followers of Jesus Christ were first called Christians.

I was interviewed after the event by NET TV for a program featuring the film and screening which will air tonight at 7:30pm Eastern. NET TV is also streamed online.





Registration is now open for the 2017 Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Colonel Papa Cubano

Joyce and I just finished our first short film! It's about a family we met in Cuba. It's the true story of an atheist who becomes head of the Salvation Army in Cuba and one of the stories that helped him get there.

It stars Marco Santiago (America's Next Top Model), Patricia Mauceri (Courageous Love, The Farmer and the Belle, One Life to Live) and I narrate it.

We'll let you know when it's released via RichDrama.com/Updates.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

The King's Messengers

I performed in two of the four parts to this mini-series set in the fictional nation of Zanora. Once again, Daniel Knudsen has brought truth to the screen in a delightful way. This is my sixth collaboration with Daniel, and it's always a joy!

It was selected for the 2017 Christian Worldview Film Festival, and is available online.



Registration is now open for the 2017 Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Recommended Reading for Spiritual Formation

Here are some books that have helped me grow in my walk with the Lord over the years:

• The Bible. I read it cover to cover every year: www.RichDrama.com/BibleReading
• A Discipleship Journey by David Buehring
• Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald. For a season I read chapter three, "Caught in a Golden Cage" at the start of every year. It explains the differences between being called and being driven.
• Knowing God by J.I. Packer
• The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. I've been blessed to know both women who played Corrie in the movies based on this book.
• The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson
• God's Smuggler by Brother Andrew
• The Intercessor by Reese Howells
• No Compromise: The Life Story of Keith Green by Melody Green
• Evangelism Explosion by Dr. James Kennedy

Registration is now open for the 2017 Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Fellowship with Jesus by Asking Questions

Joyce teaches on Matthew 17:24-27, and I breaks into the recording to talk about the algebra of God. Opening by Pastor Jim Warren. Dr. Linda Warren leads the pastoral prayer.

Click the arrow below, or if you're reading this in an email you can click this link, to play the service:



This service is available for download free on iTunes, where you can also subscribe to our podcast. Search for "Westchester Chapel" on the iTunes Store.

If you want to more about starting a relationship with Jesus Christ visit www.WestchesterChapel.org/Salvation.

Photo courtesy of NicolettiPhoto.com.


Registration is now open for the 2017 Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Another sketch!

Some of the Cubans we worked with to
create a sketch while we were there.
I just heard that the church in Cuba where we helped create a new drama is working on their next! Hurrah!!!


I play a lead in Providence, which you can bring to your area.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Cuba Report Report

At our apartment complex for performing artists we get to use a room for performances, and I asked if I could perform Views of the Manger, the one-man play I performed in Cuba a couple of weeks ago, followed by rough cuts of some short films we shot while we were there. They said we couldn't do it during December, but there were plenty of dates in January. I figured no one would want to see a Christmas play in January, but then we realized it was a perfect fit for Epiphany, the celebration of the Wise Men visiting the Lord, especially since the narrator of the play is one of those Magi.

We couldn't have been more pleased with how things went on Epiphany Eve (the closest we could get to Epiphany itself). We had a good turn-out, a great response, wonderful follow-up conversations, and the huge bonus of having someone in the audience we'd crossed paths with in Cuba! He joined us for our Q and A at the end, and he gave more details about one of the stories I told in one of the short films, and he was able to share much more about Cuba, having visited many more times than us.

You can find out more about the trip at www.RichDrama.com/Cuba.


Photos: Nancy Kronemann Buchanan
Find more by clicking here.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Year of Mission!

Joyce teaches on Matthew 28:16-20, with an illustration from Acts 2:42-47. She mentions teaching in Cuba, and you can hear that message at www.RichDrama.com/Cuba, where you can find out more about our January 5 NYC presentation on Cuba. She also mentions teaching in Taiwan, and you can hear that message by clicking here. Joyce mentions one of our spiritual mentors, Fran Warren. Her funeral is Westchester Chapel's second most-visited service.

Pastor Jim Warren opens the service, reading Psalm 148. He mentions that our Church will be reading through the One Year Bible together. You can order a copy through Pastor Joyce or start the Reading plan on the YouVersion application for your mobile device. Dr. Linda Warren leads and defines communion.

Click the arrow below, or if you're reading this in an email you can click this link, to play the service:



This service is available for download free on iTunes, where you can also subscribe to our podcast. Search for "Westchester Chapel" on the iTunes Store.

If you want to more about starting a relationship with Jesus Christ visit www.WestchesterChapel.org/Salvation.

Photo courtesy of NicolettiPhoto.com.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Top 100 Films for 2016

I'm blessed to have performed in seven of the Top 100 films for www.Christian Cinema.com:

#1 Beyond the Mask (which was mentioned as having moved up from 3rd)
#2 Alone Yet Not Alone (which was mentioned as having holding 2nd place)
#14 Princess Cut (which got special mention for moving up from #43 last year)
#23 Polycarp
#35 The Messenger Box
#74 Providence (which got special mention for its numerous awards)
#100 In His Steps



I play a lead in Providence, which you can bring to your area.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Baptisms on a Beach in Cuba



If you're reading this in an email you can see the video at www.RichDrama.com/Cuba.

One Day... in Cuba

I announced the release of the short film One Day from Cuba!


The actual release date is yet to be posted, but there will be a premiere in Freeport, IL, on January 22.

If you're reading this in an email visit www.RichDrama.com/Cuba to watch the video.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Farmer and the Belle


I just got to work on a really fun and profound film, The Farmer the Belle, a Christmas comedy. Their goal is to get it into theaters by next Thanksgiving, so watch for it.

Great message!

I was a New York City assistant producer, and I played Conrad, the manager for the lead, played by Jenn Gotzon​, making this our fifth film together.

#RealLove
#TheFarmerAndTheBelle
#ChristmasComedyMovie

Monday, December 26, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Hope you're having a wonderful Christmas Season!

Joyce and I just got back from a profound week in Cuba where I performed Views of the Manger, and Joyce taught on Jeremiah 29:11, our marriage verse. 

We've posted her message and more about Cuba at www.RichDrama.com/Cuba.

As soon as we got back I switched gears to perform in and serve as a NYC producer on the upcoming film The Farmer and the Belle, the seventh film project I worked on this year. Two of those are short films about Cuba we're now editing, one is unannounced, and the others were A Matter of Perspective, Felicia's Pledge and One Day

Proof Rich married an angel!
Joyce spoke of how Jeremiah's encouragement was to the exiles in Babylon, and how Daniel would have been one of the recipients. Daniel saved the magi by interpreting King Nebuchadnezzar's dream, so they were able to read the Hebrew Scriptures and, generations later, recognize the Star of Bethlehem for what it was: The birth announcement for the King of Kings. 

We're blessed to see that seven films in which I performed made the Top 100 of 2016 for ChristianCinema.com, including the top two. Four of them were mentioned in the opening article. Praise the Lord!

I got an app for tracking my trip mileage, and this year I covered 46,788 miles, almost circling the globe twice, performing and/or teaching in 17 states and six film projects.

Click here for Facebook's review of our year.

Joyce brought the Christmas Day message at Westchester Chapel, and you can hear it by clicking here.

Joyce just read about a Christian member of congress who said people pray them into office, but then don't pray them through their terms. He said he can tell when people are praying and when they're not. I can tell many of you are praying for us the year round! Thank you so very much!!! Please keep interceding for us... and our leaders.

Have a blessed Christmas, everyone! 
Though there are now Christmas
trees everywhere in Cuba we never
thought to have our picture taken
next to one! This is as jolly as we got
for the camera:
Christmas-colored lollipops!