Portraying Great Women of Faith
Vickie Gaynier brings life to the biographies of historical women in first-person dramatic portrayals. Vickie volunteers at the Creation Museum in Kentucky and travels around the country presenting stories of her “sisters in Christ” to inspire people to turn to Jesus for salvation and hope.
This one-minute video is of Vickie as Corrie ten Boom:
Vickie has experienced a sense of hopelessness felt by many people. When in the Air Force, she began a long journey running from God. She became a prisoner to substance abuse, which led to a suicide attempt. During her stay in a psychiatric ward, she remembered the truths of Christ shared with her a few years earlier and she bowed before God. Further details of her testimony are on her website: http://www.godtouched.me/Site/Home.html.
JBU: How did you become interested in doing portrayals?
VICKIE: When I was young, I could listen to someone for a little while and then imitate the accents and mannerisms. God is using that for His glory now. After giving my testimony at a ladies’ retreat sixteen years ago, I was asked to return and let my creative juices flow. I had never seen these types of performances but since I love to read biographies, I began to think of creative ways to impact others with the stories. Older women from ancient days show us how to walk with the Lord our God, like an older sister teaching a younger sister.
JBU: Who do you present and what do you want the audience to come away with?
VICKIE: The testimonies are of real women who lived in a real world. I want the audience to be inspired by their simple, willing hearts to do whatever the Lord asks.
· CORRIE TEN BOOM was a Dutch woman whose family hid Jews from the Nazis. As a result, most of her family died in German prisons. After her amazing release, she shared Christ in 60 countries for the next 33 years.
· FANNY CROSBY was blinded all of life yet authored 8,000 hymns of her Savior. She was the first woman to speak to Congress. God used her blindness to help the spiritually blind see Jesus.
· MARY (mother of Jesus)—though many have lifted her to the same level of Jesus, she was a sinner in need of a Savior. She was a simple young woman whom God chose to bring the Savior into this world.
· ANNA (Luke 2) was a young widow with no children, who lived in the temple surrounded by self-righteous Pharisees for about 80 years. She had every right to be bitter but instead focused on the coming Redeemer.
JBU: What has been one of your most exciting venues?
VICKIE: In a Kansas prison, I shared Corrie ten Boom with men and women. As I stood a few feet from them, I looked into their eyes and shared how Corrie learned of God’s love and forgiveness while in prison. They related to Corrie’s experiences and connected with her God.
JBU: What is the most difficult part of portraying these stories?
VICKIE: It’s difficult to do more than one presentation a day. A few years ago I was asked to do all three sisters in one morning. It was easy to change the costumes but it was difficult to keep the accents straight—every so often Corrie got a bit of a British accent and Fanny got a Dutch accent.
JBU: What is involved in preparing a role?
VICKIE: It can take six to twelve months to do the research, write the script, have the costume made, memorize and rehearse the part, re-writing and re-performing. My desire is to represent my sisters accurately so I am careful in the research. If there are no recordings of the women, I speak in my own voice. I read that Fanny Crosby had a “young” voice even when 80-years old, so I don’t put an older voice to Fanny. I have costumes made for their time. It is important to me to have accurate details including undergarments. It helps me portray the character clearly and take the audience back in time.
JBU: How much is scripted?
VICKIE: I continually study my “sisters” and make revisions. There have been times when the Lord brings to mind something I read about and I add it during the performance. Before I perform, I always ask the Lord to help me remember what I need to remember and forget what I need to forget. I remind myself it is all about Him and His work in that particular audience.
JBU: Do you do the makeup and hair yourself?
VICKIE: Since I am near the audience, it is important to look as real as possible. I taught myself to do age makeup from books. Since I am gray now, I use my own hair instead of wigs. At the Creation Museum we are blessed with talented directors and makeup artists for my “Anna” role.
JBU: What grabbed your heart about Corrie ten Boom?
VICKIE: She was a woman who was willing to spend herself for the Lord at all cost. The thread of love and forgiveness runs through her stories. She traveled the world telling people, “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”
When she “retired” from international travel, she spoke in California prisons. At first, the men would not listen to her until she told them of her prison experiences. She touched their hearts as no one ever had done.
When in Russia, she was discouraged thinking she had no opportunity to help the people. But she was told there were hidden microphones in the hotel rooms. She found the microphones and every day she would give a little sermon for whoever was listening, sharing the hope she had in the Lord Jesus Christ through His love and forgiveness.
I love the part of the program when I have someone read the ending of Corrie: “…On April 15 1983, her closest friends were with her to celebrate her 91st birthday. That evening about 11:00 pm, the best had come for Corrie ten Boom. She went home to be with her Lord. In Jewish tradition, they say that only very blessed people are allowed the special privilege of dying on their birthday.”
Corrie’s Papa had always reminded his children: “When Jesus takes your hand, He keeps it tight. When He keeps it tight, He leads you through life. And when He leads you through life, He brings you safely home.” Corrie ten Boom is safe at Home.
JBU: Was Corrie able to forgive her abusive guards?
VICKIE: At the end of a speaking engagement to a group in Germany, Corrie recognized a man who came forward after she spoke as one of the guards at Ravensbruck who had been especially cruel to her sister. She said hatred came into her heart. He told her he had become a Christian and knew God had forgiven him, and asked the Lord to help him find one of his victims that he might ask forgiveness. She struggled with anger but asked the Lord to help her. When their hands touched, she said she forgave him and meant it with all her heart. Later, she said, “I have never known God’s love as intensely as I did then.”
JBU: Who of these sisters are you most looking forward to meeting in heaven?
VICKIE: I would love to get them all together and have one big jam session. I just want to listen to their stories from their own mouths. It makes me smile to just imagine.
JBU: In your opinion, why do these sisters have such deep characters, devotion and fortitude?
VICKIE: These women were put into difficult situations that forced them to trust the Lord. In Corrie’s case, it wasn’t until the hard times that her faith grew and the Lord used her. Our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world are much stronger than we are. We do not grow much when the times are good. I’m afraid we are lazy. We think the world revolves around us. We don’t like to feel pain or be uncomfortable. We don’t want our children to go through difficult times. But all these things help us to draw nearer to the Lord. These are the things that develop deep character, devotion and fortitude.
JBU: How has God used these women in your personal walk with Christ?
VICKIE: Since I have studied them so much, I feel part of their lives and sometimes forget I am “me”. For example, on occasion when I hear one of Fanny Crosby’s hymns, I think for an instant, oh, that’s my hymn! All of these women have become dear friends to me. I have seen them draw close to the Lord in the hard times. I have witnessed how God strengthened them and used them for His glory. I have learned from these “sisters” that no matter what happens in our lives, the Lord hangs on to us even though we may not feel close to Him. The testimony of these sisters gives me courage to go on for the Lord.
Favorite Scripture verse/passage: Psalm 40
Favorite book: Carillon of Bells/Basket of Summer Fruit by Susannah Spurgeon
Your hobby: reading biographies
A fun thing she likes to do with her husband: traveling and just plain being with him
To contact Vickie: