Skyela Bussey as Peter Pan | CAST 2019 | Theater 315

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved to sing and act. My family can account for the many times they heard me belt musical theatre songs in my room during all hours of the day. I also remember seeing a couple of CAST performances growing up, and I knew that when I was old enough, I wanted to be a part of it someday. However, as much as the acting and singing of CAST was a big part of why I wanted to be in it, what I longed for was the strong community that I saw form between those team members. When I was a kid, I struggled to make friends, and I often isolated myself when I felt that people didn’t want me around. I felt too weird and different from being accepted, but how my heart craved to be a part of a tightly-knit community like the ones I saw in CAST!
So, the summer that I turned eighteen rolled around, and I finally auditioned for CAST… and I didn’t get accepted. I was crushed. I felt unworthy, not enough to a part of something I had dreamed of for so long… but that wasn’t the end of the story. God humbled me through that summer. He made it very clear to me that sometimes we don’t always get what we want, and we must learn to be okay with that. His plan will always be greater and better than I could imagine, and I needed to trust Him, even when things didn’t always go according to my plan. I believe during that summer, He reminded me of the essence of humility and continued to mold and shape me for the future.
Two years later, in 2017, I got accepted into CAST for the first time! God continued to allow me the opportunity to keep applying for CAST, and I ended up being a member of CAST for three consecutive summers. I got to travel through time as Charles Wallace in “A Wrinkle in Time,” dance, sing, and play the ukulele as a disciple in “Godspell,” and fly around and fight Captain Hook as Peter Pan. However, the most important thing that I took away from CAST is how much God intervened in unexpected moments. The number of times God showed up during our performances, in our rehearsals, and in the times we visited kids at camps and churches, was incredible. The Lord showed me that He could show up anywhere at any time, and we must prepare our hearts to listen and open our eyes to see what He is doing. One example of God doing that was during the summer of 2018:

Godspell | CAST 2018

In the summer of 2018, we performed the show “Godspell.” This musical was focused primarily on the book of Matthew, telling the story of Jesus through colorful parables, quirky dances, and heart-touching songs. However, there was one specific scene that has remained with me to this day: the scene of the Last Supper. At the beginning of the show, Jesus gave each of his disciples a flower to pin onto their clothing to symbolize their unification as a tribe, a symbol of community. Towards the end of the show, he collected the flowers and said goodbye to his followers before his crucifixion. At our very first performance at Theatre 315, Ryan (who was playing Jesus) came around to each of us to say goodbye, and I looked down at my skirt (where I had pinned my flower) and realized that the flower was missing! I began to panic.

What do I do? Should I pretend to have it? How can I make that believable?

However, at this moment, I felt God urging me to “be real.” So, as Ryan came around to me, I fell on my knees, tears in my eyes, admitting to the fact that I lost the one thing he had given me; I had lost the symbol of my contribution to this community. However, something beautiful happened at that moment: God intervened. What we were doing no longer felt like a show or a performance, it was real. Ryan, who I believe was also moved by this moment, smiled gently, and reassured me that it was okay and that I was still enough.

How many times, like the parable, have we in fear or in pride, buried our talent? When our master eventually came to us to retrieve what we have gained, how many times do we show up with merely the one talent he had given to us before, or sometimes even shown up with nothing? How many times do we lose what God has given to us? In return, how many times has God shown us grace in the times we’ve failed? How many times has He reminded us that He still sees us worthy through the precious blood of Jesus? How many times does he tell us that we are still accepted into his family, even when we make mistakes? God showed me something beautiful at this moment. Before this wonderful accident on stage happened, I had gone through this show with a performance-oriented mind, and after this moment, I realized what a real ministry this show could be for people, and the ministry this show could be for the cast members performing it as well.

These summers in CAST were indeed the most life-changing experiences I’ve had in my life.

I’ve met some of the most wonderful friends through it and have gained valuable lessons of humility, boldness, and community that I will always hold near to my heart. God used CAST to strengthen my spiritual life and encourage me to be bold in who He has made me to be. I grew more confident as the team around me supported and loved me for me. I grew deeper into my relationship with God as He provided a great group of friends and leaders to encourage me on that journey. He taught me how to be humble in all scenarios, on and off stage. He has morphed my passions for the performing arts and ministry into one and showed me how I could do both when I allow Him to work through me.
Now, I am working at Theatre 315 in New York City as a Ministry Assistant.  Yes, God spoke to me so clearly during a CAST performance is now where I work in full-time arts ministry! It’s funny how God works that way. I am currently in charge of street outreach for the Glory Shop as well as being the Youth Worker for the corps. I believe God used CAST to ignite a passion for evangelism for the ministry I am doing at this very moment.
God can use every failure and every success in your life to shape you into who He has planned you to be, and if you allow Him to do so, you will one day be able to look back and thank Him for how much He has blessed you to be where you are right now. Right now, I can look back on my past with a smile, regardless of the struggles and accomplishments I’ve faced, because I know that God was with me then, leading me to where I am today. With that knowledge, I can look toward the future with hope, having faith that since God was with me then, He is here with me now, continuing to morph and mold me into the woman He has always intended for me to be.

Brave Kids and Lost Boys