I’ve Almost Been Fired from a Contract
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is about King Jehoshaphat. Three different armies had teamed up against Israel and were marching toward them, which prompted King Jehoshaphat to say, “God, I don’t know what to do but my eyes are on you.” (2 Chronicles 20:12) The next day, King Jehoshaphat assembled the Israelite army to march out to battle – but he made the unconventional decision to place worship leaders on the frontlines rather than soldiers. With every step toward battle they praised God. When Israel arrived at their enemy’s camp, they were shocked to see all three armies laying dead. As they had been marching and worshipping, God had sent a divisive spirit amongst their enemies and they had fought each other to the death. All that was left for Israel to do was celebrate!
One of my most precious memories is of a time I cried out to the Lord and He rescued me from an adversary. I was playing the lead in a gospel-themed musical I did in a foreign country. The heart behind the production was to take it to America as a tool to preach the gospel. One wealthy church elder functioned as the producer. I had auditioned for him multiple times via video submissions while I was on a cruise ship contract. During this process, the producer had asked (through a translator) for me to adjust the style that I was singing in. The challenge was that neither the producer or the translator had a background in music, so I just did my best to make the adjustments I thought I was being asked to make.
Next thing I knew I was offered the part.
The entire creative team was composed of non-English-speaking professionals. Since they had cast American actors in certain roles, the solution was to provide an interpreter. Our interpreter was an eighteen-year-old with no background in translating or in theatre. Soon into the rehearsal process, this became a problem. I was being told that I was not delivering to the producer’s satisfaction but what he wanted me to do differently was literally getting lost in translation. I couldn’t understand what I was supposed to do differently. What I could understand was that he wasn’t happy with me.
The week before we were set to travel back to the U.S. to begin performances, I received an email from the producer stating that I would be required to sign an addendum to my contract which stated that my understudy would be gaining half of my performances each week. It also stated that the producer could replace me with my understudy at any time throughout the entirety of our run. To me, the implication of the email was that if I didn’t sign the addendum, I was going to be fired. I didn’t know what to think or how to respond. I felt ashamed and humiliated. I was still very insecure with my abilities and really hadn’t yet learned how to ground my identity in Jesus. The email seemed to confirm my worst fear: I wasn’t good enough.
In shock, I tried to pray before walking out into the living room I shared with the other American girls in the cast. I told them about the email and they rallied around me. It was a burden I wasn’t equipped to handle and these girls took it right off my shoulders. One of them took it upon herself to schedule a meeting with the producer and production manager to discuss the email. Emily went after “home-court” advantage by arranging for the meeting to be held at the coffee shop of the American church we’d been attending while in Seoul. She specifically requested an interpreter we’d met and liked a lot who worked for the church that the elder/producer was acting on behalf of.
The night before the meeting, I was full of fear. My roommates filled our apartment with praise music and danced around until I was laughing and dancing with them. The next morning Emily and I got to the church early. After we spent some time in worship together, she left to give me time alone. In tears I told God how afraid I was. Thinking of the story of Esther in the Old Testament, I asked Him to show me mercy like Esther had been shown when she went before the king.
The meeting time drew near and Emily and I headed to the coffee shop upstairs. When the others arrived, we were surprised to see that the producer was not with them. It was only the production manager and the interpreter we had requested.
What we didn’t realize when we’d requested her was how high up in that church’s leadership she was. The interpreter proceeded to tell us that, after she read the email the producer had sent me, she had spoken to him. She had flatly told the producer that the addendum he’d come up with was not going to fly and that no changes to my original contract would be made. I was speechless. The big battle I’d been expecting wasn’t even going to happen. Esther had gone before the “king” on my behalf and defended me.
The best part, in my opinion? The interpreter’s name was, no joke, actually Esther!
Looking back, I am still in awe of God. I take great comfort in remembering his great kindness and faithfulness toward me that day.
In our times of helplessness and fear, may we choose to speak the words of King Jehoshaphat:
“God, I don’t know what to do but my eyes are on you.” – 2 Chronicles 20:12