Performing at the prison was an adventure. It all started as we checked in and had to run all of our props through a scanner – like the baggage scanners at the airport. That would normally not be a problem at all, but for Nativity on the Square, we have two full-size mannequins.

I wish I had a camera to show you what was going on, but to simplify, we had to take poor “Mary” completely apart. First arms, then she was turned upside down to get her bottom half detached from her top half. Because of the way this mannequin sits, we had to take her other leg off because she still wouldn’t fit.

All of the humor in the process was amplified by the fact that Mary had no clothes on the bottom half (she only wears a white robe) and by my face turning completely red as I am laughing and taking her apart in front of at least three guards. The guards were also turning red and laughing with the rest of The WordPlayers’ team. They confessed to never having seen this before as they watched mannequin body parts through the scanner.

Once all of our props were through, we took a long walk to a gym where we had about 15 minutes to set up and be ready to perform.

I play the bag lady. She has been through some rough times. I think that the bag lady doesn’t feel like she is worth anything and she feels like everyone else thinks that too. As I was playing this part in prison, I felt like I could relate to how some of these men must feel. While the bag lady shares her story she has a revelation.

God knows the pain of the struggle that she feels, not only because He loves her, but because He experienced what it was to give His son for us. In that moment, I think that the bag lady finally believes that God understands her struggle and her pain. That connection and the kindness that is then showed to her saves her life.

As I looked into the eyes of the men who were watching, I wondered what their stories were and prayed that they could truly feel God’s love in the beautiful gift of forgiveness that Jesus brings.