birdie and rebecca REBECCA –
On May 26, 1996 we had never even seen the amphitheater. Now, on May 22, 1997 ...well, it was overwhelming trying to grasp what God had done.

BIRDIE –
That place was in shambles. No cast. No staff. No equipment. No money. No plan. No contract. And, NarroWay was nothing more than a “thought” God had spoken to us almost fifteen years before.

REBECCA –
Now, in less than a year, literally hundreds of volunteers, hundreds of thousands of dollars, state-of-the-art equipment, two strong casts and one staff member later – we were preparing to say, for the first time, “Good evening, Ladies & Gentlemen....”

BIRDIE –
One staff member ... So, we hired a receptionist, who also served as the box office / stage manager / cast coordinator. Her job title might as well have been: Telephones, Etc.
Her name was Lynn Couch.


I can’t tell you how happy we were to quit answering the phone. Bless her heart! I shall NEVER again take for granted those remarkable, beautiful, diplomatic people at the front desk of our offices who we call receptionists and secretaries. Bless them all, Lord!

Lynn and directors

REBECCA –
When we hired Lynn, we also got an office phone system with three phones. WAHOO! Birdie and I didn’t have to share a phone!

BIRDIE –
Kent Hubbard, who lived on the grounds, installed them and we became the new proud owners of a phone bill!

REBECCA –
Internet and email had not yet over-taken mass communication. NarroWay had one computer with internet access and Birdie and I didn’t have internet or an email address.

BIRDIE –
A lot of people didn’t, then.

REBECCA –
Facebook didn’t exist! (Makes you wonder how people ever found out what everyone else was having for dinner!)

BIRDIE –
And when Lynn had to contact the 100+ cast for any reason, it took hours of playing phone-tag! (Some of you still remember those days.)

REBECCA –
Marketing meant purchasing expensive ads in numerous newspapers and magazines, professional four-color PRINT brochures and SNAIL MAIL!

1997 brochureNarroWay's original brochure. We had no photos to include!

BIRDIE –
A postage stamp alone was $0.32. (Bulk mailing a little cheaper.) Eight thousand dollars and more could be spent just to reach even 10,000 households one time. And statistics show that the majority of those simply toss it in the trash.

REBECCA –
Churches were contacted and visited – but most were very skeptical.

BIRDIE –
Even though we had served years as professional church staff and thought we knew the ins and outs of “church-work,” it was next to impossible to get churches to promote or even spiritually support this new and unproven endeavor – led by (gasp!) two unknown women.

REBECCA –
We had some idea how Joseph might have felt when he told the brothers about his big dream.

BIRDIE –
Those who had so loved and supported the property when it was Heritage USA were happy to see even a part of it restored. Many of them were our greatest promoters, getting the word out in HOA newsletters and calling their friends.

We were counting down to the opening. A dedication service was scheduled for May 2, 1997.

 
dedication announcement

REBECCA –
For the dedication, one-hundred eighty people were recruited. Each was assigned a passage of scripture so that, when every passage was read, the entire Bible was spoken. At the conclusion of the dedication, everyone at the service surrounded the epic amphitheater wall. Two shofar players stood at the high places of the amphitheater.

BIRDIE –
When the shofar sounded, 180 voices read aloud from the word of God. Take just a moment and try to imagine how that sounded. It was... holy...holy...holy.

people reading
people around wall

REBECCA –
Soon after the dedication, we posted the grand-opening banner.

grand opening banner

BIRDIE –
And signs went up in the towers.

painting signs
standing under sign

REBECCA –
There was still so much left to be done, even things we hadn’t realized. We discovered that we needed to paint the top edge of every step in that monstrous amphitheater with a strip of fluorescent white paint because, when it was dark, patrons couldn’t see the next step.

painting steps
arena steps

BIRDIE –
Even on the morning of opening day we found a hazardous concrete step that was broken off in an audience aisle. A volunteer from Pennsylvania hurried to repair it for us. But it was months later we discovered how he had made his repair into what would become a treasure to us.

concrete step with names

REBECCA –
Now it was written in stone ...
Martin-Clark, May 22, 1997.

stage on opening nightOpening night, May 22, 1997