Nefi Melgar sat on the orange carpet of his church Tuesday evening unable to walk. The 15-year-old reached his arms out and pleaded with his eyes for help as other boys passed and paused only to look down at him in disgust.
Melgar was playing the role of a crippled Mephibosheth from the Books of Samuel. His role was part of a drama performed by the youth group of the Prophetic Apostolic International Church (in Spanish, Iglesia Apostolica Profetica Internacional) in Bradenton. The drama will complement a service at 7 p.m. Saturday at the church, 718 Seventh Ave. W., Bradenton.
“He was very poor. He couldn’t even drag himself, nothing, and God had a purpose for him,” Melgar said in Spanish of Mephibosheth. “He can’t walk until God calls for him and picks him up. He is then healed and can walk again.”
Behind all the wickedness, behind all the distress is God’s plan. He has a purpose designed for each person. By us performing this drama, we’re inspiring youth that possibly might be struggling with any kind of issue in their minds, in their lives... in their empty hearts.
Selvin Carranza, pastor of the Prophetic Apostolic International Church
Dramas depicting stories from scriptures are common in Apostolic churches, with some even having their own drama departments. The youth at the Prophetic Apostolic International Church often piece together drama performances to accompany services in Spanish with English translations.
“One of the reasons we feel drama is important is because there are many people who are battered and limited in their own thoughts, thinking in life they won’t be able to develop fully as human beings,” said Pastor Selvin Carranza. “Behind all the wickedness, behind all the distress, is God’s plan. He has a purpose designed for each person. By us performing this drama, we’re inspiring youth who possibly might be struggling with any kind of issue in their minds, in their lives... in their empty hearts.”
Carranza said this drama will teach youth they can have a good, healthy life.
Melgar said he asked to play the role of Mephibosheth, the grandson of Israel’s King Saul, who was later shown kindness by King David and welcomed to eat at the king’s table — despite Mephibosheth’s low self-worth and handicap. It’s a story of redemption.
“I like the story to help other youth so they can see that God exists, a God that uplifts and Who is faithful,” he said. “God has always helped me.”
At the rehearsal, Rudi Arriaga played the role of King David. In one scene, the 26-year-old Bradenton resident bent down to comfort Melgar. Several boys then lifted Melgar up and brought him to a chair at a table decorated in blue and silver sequined cloth. Before a crowd, Melgar and Arriaga pretended to feast from plastic plates and cups with gold trim.
I like the story to help other youth so they can see that God exists, a God that uplifts and Who is faithful. God has always helped me.
Nefi Melgar, parishioner at the Prophetic Apostolic International Church
Arriaga, originally from Chiapas, a southern state of Mexico, said this story was chosen for the drama to attract others.
“And to show that, if others don’t value you, this church where we are preaching His Word does,” he said in Spanish. “Here, God values us. ... that’s why we’re here.”
On a recent Sunday, parishioners Gustavo Garcia, Obeymar Mejia and Colene McLymond sat in Carranza’s office and talked about the message behind Saturday’s service.
Mejia, 25, of Bradenton, said he has experienced impediments such as those afflicting Mephibosheth. When he arrived to the United States four years ago from Mexico, Mejia said he fell into drugs after spending time with a group of friends. One night in September, Mejia said he overdosed on cocaine.
“My friends didn’t know what to do. ... some of them knew about Christianity and called a pastor to come and pray for me,” he said in Spanish. “He came at around midnight and prayed for me and for all who were there. With time, I realized that the solution isn’t drugs, the solution isn’t alcohol. ... the solution is in Jesus Christ. The Lord offers a second chance.”