British Actor Takes the Bible to the Street Through Paraphrase

by | Jan 31, 2005 | Charisma Archive

Through his stage shows and book, Rob Lacey presents the Scriptures in the language of popular culture
Rob Lacey didn’t receive a sudden revelation to rewrite the Bible. But in his personal study of Scripture, the 42-year-old Welshman discovered that rephrasing passages to fit modern language connected with believers and nonbelievers alike.


So the 16-year theater veteran set out to take the Word to the street–literally–by paraphrasing the Bible in a way today’s postmodern culture would understand. The project started off as a book, releasing as The Street Bible in Britain in 2003 and capturing the 2004 Book of the Year award at the United Kingdom Christian Booksellers Convention. In September, it released as The Word on the Street in the United States.


“It’s an overview of the Bible that’s perfect for non-Christians, and Christians love it because it gives a fresh angle to something they know very well,” Lacey told Charisma. “But I’m very passionate that everyone realizes it’s not the Bible. It’s an intro and advertisement for the Bible.”


In sometimes gritty and oftentimes witty language, Lacey presents Old Testament law as an instructional manual, the wisdom books as rock opera, the Gospels as one story with four narrators, the epistles as e-mails, and Revelation as virtual images. With a vocabulary and structure designed primarily for 18- to 34-year-olds, the passages reflect God’s eternal truth and wisdom.


The book also is performed as one-hour and 20-minute stage shows.


Accompanied by Bill and Rachel Beales on guitar, keyboard and vocals, Lacey opens the show by reviewing the entire Bible in two minutes. “The show is the Bible as performance art,” Lacey said. “It’s comedy, it’s theater, it’s performance poetry.”


Lacey gave dozens of performances last summer alone, but the ministry concept almost never got off the ground. Two weeks after inking the book contract in March 2000, Lacey was diagnosed with cancer in his bladder.


He underwent painful chemical treatments, but the disease continued to spread, and eventually Lacey had to undergo surgery to remove his bladder.


“I was a hermit in my own house, and the only positive thing in my life at that stage was writing,” he said. “It was my lifeline creatively, emotionally and certainly spiritually to be soaked in the Bible. It was the only thing that kept me sane.”


During the operation, doctors discovered a tumor and found cancer cells in Lacey’s bones. Lacey said if his physicians had known how much the cancer had spread, they would not have performed the surgery. Afterward, Lacey’s medical team told him he had less than a year to live.


“I had just finished the first draft of The Word on the Street, but it was nowhere near ready,” he said. “If that had been the end, the book would not have been completed.”


Rather than accept the doctors’ report, Lacey underwent alternative treatment in Mexico. A member of Glenwood Church, a Free Evangelical congregation in Cardiff, Wales, he also visited Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship to receive prayer for healing. But his condition worsened, and in December 2001, friends and family began visiting Lacey to pay their last respects.


Still determined to finish the project, Lacey began editing his book. The work proved both therapeutic and fruitful. “Because I had seen a lot more, I had a lot more authority and courage and a right to talk about the big issues,” he said. “I had looked death in the face, but because of what Christ had done, death blinked first.


“I had two very good options. I could either die and go to heaven and be pain-free, or God would heal me, and I could see my little boy grow up. It was totally dark at times, and at other times, it was glimpses of real intimacy with God, a very beautiful time.”


During the summer of 2002, Lacey began to improve. In August, no cancer could be detected in his lymph nodes, and by October he not only could walk without assistance, he also began swimming to regain his strength.


Today he is in good health, and tours the country with his stage show. Lacey said he has revised the format some to allow the audience to draw their own biblical insights from the presentation.


“I was preaching through drama and wasn’t just telling the stories,” he told Charisma. “I realized that was rather arrogant to an unchurched person, especially in this postmodern society. I began using Jesus’ model of parables and leaving it to the Holy Spirit and the listener to work things out.”


Last fall, Lacey opened the Gates Arts and Training Center with his wife, Sandra, in Cardiff. The center holds acting and dancing classes and produces plays for the community.
John Hillman

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

COGIC Bishop Derrick Hutchins Sr. Dies at 65

COGIC Bishop Derrick Hutchins Sr. Dies at 65

Read Time: 1 Minute 59 Seconds Bishop J. Drew Sheard and the General Board of the Eastern Florida Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction of the Church of God in Christ announced Tuesday the death of one of its most beloved leaders, Bishop Derrick Hutchins Sr. Hutchins was 65....

Don’t Criticize Charismatics

Don’t Criticize Charismatics

They are saying the charismatic movement is divisive. Whenever people get involved in the "new emphasis," there are disruptions in the status quo. Red flags go up. Lines are drawn. I would ask: What else could be expected? Any force as great as this is bound to make...

Jonathan Cahn Reveals the Mystery of the Molten Beast

Jonathan Cahn Reveals the Mystery of the Molten Beast

Read Time: 6 Minutes, 42 Seconds Is it possible that ancient entities known as "the gods" have returned to our world? Could these gods actually be the unseen movers and catalysts of what's happening in America and the world today? Could they lie behind the current...

Shining the Light of Jesus in Hollywood’s Darkness

Shining the Light of Jesus in Hollywood’s Darkness

Read Time: 3 Minutes 37 Seconds Most made-for-TV Christmas movies are like eggnog and sugar cookies—way too sweet, yet extremely addictive for a lot of viewers. But these Hallmark-style movies—the ones with predictable love stories that always end with jingling bells...

Prophecy: Goodness Is Following You, Turn and See

Prophecy: Goodness Is Following You, Turn and See

Read Time: 1 Minute 51 Seconds At a recent gathering where a member was struggling, I heard and declared by the Spirit of the Lord, “Goodness is following you, TURN and see; embrace His goodness in this moment and watch the shift!” There was an immediate shift and...

Man Who Spent 23 Minutes in Hell: You Came From God

Man Who Spent 23 Minutes in Hell: You Came From God

Read Time: 2 Minutes 25 Seconds If you search the phrase, “where does life come from?” the first explanation reads: “The origin of life is a result of a supernatural event—and readily arises from nonliving matter in short periods of time, today as in the past.” The...

RECENT ARTICLES

Raise Your Praise!

These are the days that may leave you feeling defeated. You may be wondering when these present trials will end or how can you strengthen your faith for the battle as you wrestle against powers and...
7 Elements Needed for Revival That Will Usher in Reformation

7 Elements Needed for Revival That Will Usher in Reformation

Read Time: 1 Minute 9 Seconds What will turn the nations around? What will restore the world to sanity? There have been revivals from Old Testament times up through the year 2000. Today we need both a revival and a reformation. Here are 7 elements needed to usher in...

Mario Murillo: An Era of Mass Soul Winning Has Begun

Mario Murillo: An Era of Mass Soul Winning Has Begun

Read Time: 4 Minutes, 27 Seconds From the very first tent stake we drove into California soil, until now, there has only been one dream. And, after two years, that dream came true in Roseville. Roseville is the victory we have yearned for. It confirms that an era of...

How You Can Flow in the River of Living Water

How You Can Flow in the River of Living Water

Read Time: 5 Minutes, 2 Seconds A river is a source of life. As it is in the natural, so it is in the spiritual. Jesus told His disciples that if we believe in Him, "rivers of living water" will flow out from within us, from our hearts. "Anyone who believes in me may...

Pin It on Pinterest