English Passion Play Changing Lives for Christ — Before It Opens

The Manchester Passion play has been called an amazing retelling of the Greatest Story Ever Told.

By Nancy Flory Published on April 4, 2017

The Manchester Passion play in England has already changed lives before anyone’s even seen it. While still in rehearsals, it’s helped Christians renew their faith. Even Muslims have come to Christ.

The Manchester Passion’s Beginning

Originating in the Middle Ages, passion plays dramatize Jesus’s arrest, trial, crucifixion and resurrection. It had been 11 years since the first Passion play in the city. That play, produced by the BBC, used places in the city of Manchester and contemporary pop music. About 7,000 attended and thousands more watched it on television.

Canon Falak Sher and Nakib Narat thought it was time to stage another performance. Falak, a Pakistani Christian, serves as a Church of England pastor with a special ministry to Muslims. Explaining why he wanted to stage a passion play, he told a local newspaper, “I want to see the cross lifted up in the city, glorifying God! Jesus is hope for the Mancunian people.” (“Mancunian” means people from Manchester.)

Bringing Jesus to Manchester

The cast includes 37 actors, a choir of 50 and a supporting band of 15, reported The Christian Post. The cast is religiously diverse, representing many Christian denominations and Islam. But the power of the message has touched the lives of those involved.

Director Geoff Millard called the play “an incredible experience.” The message affected him six years ago when he was an artistic director for the very same play but in another city. “It was being involved in doing the Passion in Bolton in 2011 that brought me to knowing God as my Savior.” He was an Anglican, he said, “but it opened my eyes. I had to read the Bible to understand the script. I learned how to pray fervently. I became a born-again Christian.”

The Passion is a place where people have gone who are emerging from a bad place in their lives. Many of the cast members have “come through unconventional backgrounds to their faith.” Two recovering alcoholics star in the show as Simon Peter and Mary Magdalene. A former prison inmate plays Simon Peter. Gillian Thomas, actress and playwright, plays Mary Magdalene. A 59-year-old salesman, Rob Slater, plays Jesus.

Touching Lives for Christ

One Muslim actor travels over 60 miles because he “wants to be involved, to profess his faith in God,” said Millard. Another Muslim, said Millard, “has come to ‘know Jesus’ in a deep and powerful way.”

The Manchester Passion‘s webpage asks for prayer for the event. It calls for people to pray in an hour’s slot weekly and fast if possible. “God loves answering prayer!!” the website states. “He likes us to depend on Him and to put our trust in Him.” The Manchester Passion‘s goal is to “reach wider and more diverse communities, put on … life-changing performances and ensure our positive message continues nationwide.”

Up to 5,000 people are expected for the event. It will be held on April 8 at the Cathedral Gardens behind St. Werburgh’s Cathedral.


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