There comes a time in everyone’s life where they must face some degree of heartache and disappointment — but not at this level.
The Rev. Andrew Berry II, pastor of Greater Barbour’s Chapel Baptist Church, is a walking testimony who shows that challenges and circumstances don’t have to dictate your present or future and that the choice to overcome obstacles in our lives — is yours.
The pastor’s life, from beginning to present, will be told by playwright and producer Rita Taylor in her adaptation of his life in the play “From Tragedy to Triumph — The Life Story of Pastor A.W. Berry II,” which will make its debut at 6 p.m. Oct. 21 at 7420 FM 1765 in Texas City.
“From Tragedy to Triumph” is an emotional, heart-wrenching story about a young man who suddenly lost both parents to death by the age of 2, with no warning or notice, Taylor described.
“It’s a story depicting the life of a very courageous and smart young man who was raised by his grandparents until the age of 11 when he suddenly lost the only man he really knew, his grandfather,” Taylor said. “His (Berry) story will show a man who God called by name before he was formed in his mother’s womb for such a time as this. He has indeed faced tragedy, but with God’s help and Andrew’s determination to overcome, he is now successfully pastoring and fulfilling his parents’ legacy and the call on his life.”
Taylor, who has been producing and writing plays on “real life” events since 2010, says that Berry’s life story was a big challenge to bring to life due to the storyline.
“After conducting interview after interview, and doing research, I discovered I knew some of the people the play will be mentioning,” Taylor said. “This made it even more personal — and of course more challenging. The play is digging up a lot of emotions that people thought they were done with or had overcome, but maybe not as much as they thought they had. There’s a saying that time heals all wounds, well, I beg to differ. It’s hard for time to heal wounds that aren’t being dealt with, so hopefully, if there is any healing that needs to take place, it will on Oct. 21.”
Overcoming obstacles and challenges, although not easy, is something Berry believes God has brought him through to help others, he says reflecting back on where he is today.
“I believe God gives us grace in all things,” Berry said. “And even in that grace, there are moments when revisiting some instances of my life can be a challenge because there is still a bit of a ‘sting’ associated with those memories. I don’t think the sting ever goes away, but knowing that God’s grace is attached to it gives me comfort, even in a harsh reality.”
For Berry, “From Tragedy to Triumph” will not only be an opportunity to share his testimony, but it’ll also be a chance for people to see his life outside of being a preacher/pastor, he says.
“I preach and teach at Greater Barbour’s Chapel, every week, that God never gives tests without the gift of a testimony,” Berry said. “And the one thing that I desire to have my life achieve is to be a witness to God’s power and love, and in order for others to see it, I have to tell it.”
Ethel Shelton, a member of the church, is hoping that her role in the production, which features a cast of 29 people, will help those of us who may have had some tragedies of our own see that we’re not alone and that there is light at the end of the tunnel, she said.
“At first glance, when you hear about all the loss he experienced at such an early age, it brings sadness and leaves one with so many unanswered questions,” Shelton said. “ His story being told at this time and season is no accident. Many of us have experienced loss due to Hurricane Harvey and we’re at our wit’s end. However, the message in this play is one of hope and it encourages us to never give up.”
Admission to the play is free; however, a free will offering will be taken. For information, call 409-935-1100 between 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays.
“There are so many people in this county, state, nation and world who are facing tragedies,” Berry said. “Even from recent hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, cancer ... there is so much tragedy around us. But to have someone give you a visual demonstration of losing so much before an age that they could even articulate the pain and disappointment of it, I pray gives someone strength to know that God can do anything but fail. This play is not meant to create a space of despair and hopelessness; this visual presentation is to be an announcement and reminder that God will take care of you and that we are to be his witnesses and workers here on earth. And just as someone helped me at such a strange time, we, too, must be willing to help other brothers and sisters.