The Word Is a Fire and a Hammer

This photo from a church we just visited in Helsinki is a great illustration of the fire and hammer Jeremiah is talking about, as Pastor Randy Solomon shares below.

Early in the service Joyce and I shared about our recent trip to Europe.

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

Dr. Linda Warren's opening and our report on the trip:

Here's the enacted prayer I mention:

You can hear Joyce's talk in Oslo by clicking here.

And here's Pastor Randy Solomon's sermon on Jeremiah 23:23-32 with references to Daniel, who would have heard Jeremiah's word. He mentions the book The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected by Nik Ripkin. Dr. Linda opens:

The audio elements of this service are 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

For more stories from our trip to Europe click EuroTour2018.

Photo courtesy of

I Dreamed I Was Free tells the story of Quaker abolitionist John Woolman, who spoke against slavery a century before our Civil War.

Review in paper near Frankfurt

This is a Google translation of a review in DER BERGEN-ENKHEIMER 13.09.2018,
Mosaikkriche präsentiert Rich Swingle's Theaterstück:

Still up to date: the subject of "slavery"
Mosaic Church presents Rich Swingle's play

Bergen-Enkheim (zbs) - The old slave Dolly had a dream in South Carolina, in the United States of the 18th century. She had run and walked until she got to the sea and went swimming there. For people like her then an impossibility. The New Yorker Rich Swingle took up the story and presented the one-man play I Dreamed I Was Free in English for the Mosaic Church Bergen-Enkheim.

Dolly served with other slaves of a Christian white family in the country. John Woolman was the first in the family to think more deeply and philosophically about what it means to be a Christian, but still possess, sell, and trade in serfs as if they were animals. Woolman has kept a diary in his day that is still quoted today when it comes to slavery.

Rich Swingle performs regularly with his one-man play

More than 200 years later, in 1997, Rich Swingle had the idea to write a one-man play out of this story, with which he performs regularly. On his tour through Europe he visited Copenhagen, Brussels, [We did perform the play in Oslo at the Nordic Black Theatre. I performed another play, Big Fish Little Worm, on that trip in Helsinki, Arrie (Sweden) and an excerpt in Greve and Copenhagen (Denmark).] and Frankfurt, more precisely: The Riedsporthalle in Enkheim. "We were really happy when Swingle agreed," says Katharina Steinhauer, Pastor of the Mosaic Church, who made this event possible.

It's about faith in God, anger and despair

In the English-language play in which Swingle's wife directed [served as house manager. The original director was Kris Hilgaertner, and revisions to the play were directed by Mac Nelson.], it's all about faith in God, anger and despair. In the work, the protagonist tells an anecdote that describes the key message well: John had heard two slaves talking on his travels. One said to the other: "If these colonists attribute everything they do to their God and Jesus, then they must be the most terrible characters." [Actual quote from a dream: "If Christ directed them to use us in this sort, then Christ is a cruel tyrant."]  He then felt obliged to do something about the situation in his country and for the slaves, no matter how much it took to release them.

Rich Swingle takes on nine different roles in the play

Swingle took on a total of nine different roles in the play. He slipped from a sublime white slave owner and within seconds was in the skin of a dying young black man who will never see his child again. The story showed the transformation of the characters of Woolman, the slave Dolly and the slave trader Michael Worthington.

In the first part of the play John Woolman was presented as a small child. In the second part he is 19 and later he returns after a long journey as a 38-year-old and wants to convince Michael how immoral he acts.

The spectators are also required in the theater performance

Another special feature of the evening was how interactively Swingle designed it. So the spectators acted as "participants" in the "Philadelphia Yearly Meeting." They stood up against slavery and were so quiet between the first and second parts for several minutes after the request of the artist [to experience Quaker Silence], that you could hear a pin drop.

After the end of the play Swingle sat down on the "Hot Seat" and everyone could ask him questions about the characters, or to himself, of course in English. [Though people were encouraged to ask their questions in German, since there were people present who could interpret.] The approximately 100 spectators asked if the problem of slavery was still up-to-date and if so, what Woolman would do about it today. "Unfortunately, there are currently almost more serfs than at the time, though not in the US [in every nation on earth]. It is still very bad. In total there are nearly 30 million worldwide. What we can do is fundamentally change our behavior towards people of whatever origin. It is now, more than ever, important to show love and to believe," were then the words of the actor.

For more stories from this eight-nation trip, click Europe2018.

I Dreamed I Was Free tells the story of Quaker abolitionist John Woolman, who spoke against slavery a century before our Civil War.

Moses at Sight & Sound

We got a sneak peek of a filmed performance of the Sight & Sound production of Moses, which is heading to movie theaters on September 13 and 15.

I've wanted to see a Sight & Sound production for about 20 years, and I noticed some obvious differences between Sight & Sound and Broadway: Sight & Sound's stage is about twice as large as the average Broadway stage, they have at least twice the cast of the largest Broadway shows, and Sight & Sound has real animals: goats, sheep, horses and even a trained rat.

The only way Broadway trumps Sight & Sound is that they don't have Broadway stars, but that just puts the focus more clearly on The Star: the Lord.

The staging far surpasses anything I've seen on Broadway or the West End. Set pieces which would be too big for Broadway leap on and off stage, and video transitions are mind-blowing! Moses' staff, the burning bush, and the plagues are wonders!

I thought about how to depict the running in my one-man play Beyond the Chariots for months. I ended up going with running in place, which I've been told is effective, but one of the ideas that I explored was a treadmill. They have one, and it helps Moses run or walk in any direction at key transitions. I was most impressed!

I'd always heard about the spectacle of Sight & Sound, but what surprised and delighted me was that the script, music and performances fill those massive set pieces very well! There are lines that made Joyce and I gasp they were so insightful and poetic, and I'm still whistling the theme.

Another impressive element is the costuming! The variety of styles and color is dazzling!

I cry at the drop of a hat, but I've found personally that the bigger the spectacle the less likely I'll be moved to tears. This one got me! It's because it's not just moving the heart but the soul. Many times and in creative ways they point forward to Jesus.

I think I can objectively say this is best stage production I've ever seen.

Oh, here's another difference between Sight & Sound and Broadway: Broadway is twice the price. For the difference, a family in Manhattan can drive to Lancaster and stay overnight. But on September 13 and 15 people all over the US can go to theaters and pay a fraction of the cost of Broadway. Visit

Parents should know: Some stage violence.

See the rest of Olympic champion Eric Liddell's Chariots of Fire story in Beyond the Chariots. Watch it online and book a live performance. No treadmill, but it's an amazing story!

Joyce teaches on Jeremiah in Oslo

Joyce taught on Jeremiah for the Church of the Nazarene in Oslo, Norway. It is a Portuguese community with people from Cape Verde, Brazil and Norway.

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

Before Joyce taught, Rich performed Jonah. We were both really moved to share with this community.

Afterward we got to see the city, including the Oslo Opera House, which is in the photo above. That's Joyce in the far right.

We were in the city to perform I Dreamed I Was Free at the Nordic Black Theatre. Everyone seemed to feel that it went really well, and we're talking about a return with a longer run. Here's my report...

This is the first of a series of posts I'm planning that will share details from this trip with performances in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Germany: Europe2018.

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