Each year the company has a number of teams that minister in different areas of the country. These teams spend 355 days a year traveling and performing skits and sharing the Gospel wherever they can set up an opportunity. This year the company has three teams.
New Life Drama Company was started in 1982 by David Woodrow. Now, the ministry is continued by his son Abram.
“You grow up in something and you try to rebel against it ... but it’s what I know, it’s what I love. I felt God calling me back to it,” Abram Woodrow said. “There is really nothing else that I could really want to do.”
Woodrow said the drama company gives him a chance to make a difference and work in an organization that is something he beliefs in.
New Life Drama Company accepts applications from 18- to 25-year-olds for full-time touring with a minimum of a year’s commitment. Students 15-17 may apply to the ministry’s summer program. Woodrow said many of the students choose to participate multiple summers. Some later become a part of one of the full-time teams.
Woodrow said New Life is really about putting other’s needs before one’s own.
“We have a lot of kids that come in and want the stardom and everything, and then they realize, ‘Wow, it’s not about me,’”
Full-time travelers come from across the country to join New Life.
“John (a traveler in this year’s tour) ... actually did an on-the-spot interview with me out in California. He hopped in the van two weeks later when we were back in his town, and joined the ministry,” Griffith said.
The ministry of New Life is really twofold. In addition to performing skits and ministering through drama, the teams also minister through acts of service.
“We’re there to be at that church’s beck and call while we’re at that church, if they need their lawn mowed, if they need their church painted ... we’ve done it all,” Woodrow said.
“It’s one thing to go somewhere and perform as an actor, perform as a star if you will, but it’s totally another aspect to say, ‘I’m here not only to minister with you, but to help you in whatever needs you have,” said Joshua Griffith, a leader in the ministry.
Griffith said serving in this capacity also opens doors for the teams to learn life skills such as mowing lawns, painting, mechanics and house building.
“That’s one of the biggest things I learned was the proper way to paint a ceiling,” Griffith said. “I was learning how to paint it as it splattered all over my face.”
“It gives you hands-on training for everything,” Griffith said.
Woodrow said the teams also learn to have more patience.
Griffith said he has enjoyed moving into a leadership position in the group and watching how the team members grow while they are with the ministry.
As they travel, team members are introduced to numerous different cultures within the United States.
“Watching them mature like that, getting hands-on training for helping people, watching their brains and their eyes expand, watching them change, and change the places they go — that’s what it’s about for me,” Griffith said.
Teams minister in churches, nursing homes, prisons and youth camps.
“The impact that our travelers have on people’s lives is just, it’s amazing,” Woodrow said.
Many places the teams minister are referrals from other places they have ministered.
Griffith said the ministry invests a lot of time calling churches and trying to book places to minister.
Throughout the ministry’s near 30-year history, many team members continued on to other forms of ministry. Woodrow said there were churches across the country that had been started by people from New Life Drama Company.
“One of my favorite places to go and minister at was a maximum security prison in Ellsworth, Kan., to go there and to see the men in there wanting to do drama and wanting to do skits and learn what we’re doing,” Griffith said. “Those men in that prison, it was an all-men prison ... showed more heart and tenacity to change their environment than any other place I’ve been to in the country.”
Woodrow said he enjoys ministering in Northern California.
“You can’t think about yourself because there are so many people who need help,” Woodrow said.
Woodrow runs the new Life home base here in Cleveland, while Griffith assists and travels with one of the teams. He said he has had many other amazing experiences, but this is the one he gained the most inspiration from.
New Life Drama Company is a nonprofit ministry funded through offerings, honorariums and team members’ tuition.
“It’s based solely on faith and believing God that we get the money to put in the gas tanks to get us from one city to the next,” woodrow said.
Those serving in the ministry for three years are eligible to receive a certificate of ordination. Woodrow said this looks good on a resume because it shows dedication and commitment.
The tuition is used toward room and board for the teams. Woodrow said the ministry is also willing to work with those who have a heart for the ministry but can’t afford the entrance fee.
The ministry also travels to other countries when they can set up enough places to minister.
New Life Drama Company: www.nldc.com