Pictures in Scripture has been sharing stories from the Bible for decades with a menagerie of animals and volunteers

For three decades an energetic and faithful couple have brought the Bible to life in an inspiring and captivating theatrical performance featuring nearly 60 talented local volunteer actors, big city style lighting, special effects and pyrotechnics, plus live animals.

The Pictures in Scripture outdoor amphitheater rests a short distance from the southern border of the Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees in Mayes County, approximately 4 miles east of the sleepy community of Disney, Okla., and just north of Highway 28. The originators of this impressive drama, Bill and Linda Goldner, began the venture out of a desire to care for and encourage young girls who may find themselves homeless or in trouble.

The Goldners themselves have five grown children and 12 grandchildren.

It began with Bill’s revelation that there were many young girls without hope for the future in the region, he would share this concern with Linda. They developed a plan, when at fruition in 1984, it became New Life House, a girl’s home, which Linda ran for 12 years until they turned it over to Teen Challenge.

In order to support New Life House, the couple brainstormed and arrived at an ingenious concept, a 1,000-seat amphitheater that would provide the back-drop for their signature productions: The Man Who Ran, the story of Jonah, The Elijah Factor, highlighting Elijah’s dangerous encounters with the treacherous Queen Jezebel and her irresponsbile husband, King Ahab and the most recent creation, Damascus Road, telling the gripping account of a zealous Saul encountering Jesus on the road to Damascus and becoming Paul, the fearless apostle to the Gentiles. The first outdoor drama was held in 1985.

The task proved to be right up their alley; Linda with a degree in communications and theatre with an emphasis on secondary education and Bill studying business.

Bill wrote the first drama, The Man Who Ran, the well-known Bible story about Jonah and the great fish, which ran for approximately 19 years. After the lengthy success of this production, they decided to dramatize another Bible story, The Elijah Factor. Linda wrote and produced this play and the current one, Damascus Road. Each year the drama opens in June and runs until the first weekend in August.

The family-focused experience also offers meal options to visitors. For an additional $3, guests can visit the barn, which houses some entertaining critters.

“I had to have a camel because the Great Passion Play in Eureka Springs had camels,” Linda said. “Believe it or not, we found our camel, Simon, on Craig’s List.”

Joining Simon, are Zola the zebra; Rosie, the oldest of three kangaroos; Omar the Lemur; Otis, a Scottish Highlander steer; a couple of tortoises; several horses; a herd of miniature ponies; a young camel; and a few birds. With so many animals and such a short play season, the Goldner’s decided to utilize the special effect the animals have on people.

This notion led to the creation of the Oasis Animal Adventures, a separate organization at the same location which focuses on restoring relationships, through educational field trips, community summer camps for children, plus, leadership and life skills courses for teens.

However, perhaps the most important aspect of the program is the animal therapy program that serves at-risk youth, special needs individuals and sex-trafficked girls.

“Animals are a gateway to the heart,” Linda noted. “They help bring a person’s guard down, so they can open up about things they would otherwise not talk about.”

“We have witnessed complete transformations of children labeled with behavior issues,” Linda added.

For Linda, it is all about healing broken hearts. She recently started a children’s book series titled Tails from the Oasis, her first book telling the story how Rosie the kangaroo came to join her new family and each book will tell an encouraging story of each animal.

It is clear a divine hand must have inspired the Goldner’s passion for spreading the good news through outdoor dramas and putting it into action by serving the most vulnerable among us.

http://www.ozarksfn.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Goldner-1024x683.jpghttp://www.ozarksfn.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Goldner-150x150.jpgKatrina HineOzarks RootsBible,Bill Goldner,Disney,Goldner,Linda Goldner,Mayes County,New Life House,Oklahoma,outdoor amphitheater,Pictures in ScripturePictures in Scripture has been sharing stories from the Bible for decades with a menagerie of animals and volunteers For three decades an energetic and faithful couple have brought the Bible to life in an inspiring and captivating theatrical performance featuring nearly 60 talented local volunteer actors, big city style...The Ozarks' most read farm newspaper, reaching more than 58,000 readers in Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma