The Biblical character Esther will come to life this month when Stephanie Stanford of Harvest Community Church debuts her original monologue portraying the Hebrew queen who saved her people from a murderous plot.
"Esther is just a fantastic character to portray," said Stanford, who has a teaching and speaking ministry and lives in the Concord area with her family. "It's a really rich story of a time when she made a difference."
Stanford has been singing in churches since she was a child, but she does not have a background in theater.
"(The Esther presentation) came about when I was thinking and praying about creative ways of communicating Scripture in ways I felt would be interactive," Stanford said.
The book of Esther in the Old Testament stood out because it's like a short novel, Stanford said.
The biblical story tells of Esther, a young Jewish woman chosen to be a Persian queen, who risked her life to tell her husband about a man's plan to kill the Jewish people in the land. Because of her actions, the Jewish people were saved.
Stanford read the book of Esther over and over again before she started writing, thinking about how Esther must have felt about what was happening to her.
"I was just trying to understand it personally and put myself in her place," she said.
Stanford doesn't take creative license with Esther's story, but she does describe how Esther may have felt. She also will talk about how Esther's story applies to women today.
Her costume for the monologue is the result of extensive research, including discussions with an Old Testament professor about what a Persian woman would have looked like several hundred years B.C.
The presentation March 18 will begin with contemporary worship led by Walter Charles, a friend of Stanford who leads worship at Arlington Baptist Church in Mint Hill.
The music will transition into Stanford's presentation with a song that reflects the music of Esther's time, Stanford said. David Taylor, cantor at Hope of Israel Messianic Congregation in Charlotte, helped them determine that the song was accurate.
Stanford's presentation will last about half an hour. She will speak as Esther, describing her fears and hopes as the story unfolds about how Esther's courage made a difference in many people's lives.
"It's an awesome story," Stanford said. "At the end, we'll look at ourselves and what we're doing in the days we live in now to impact the world ... good or bad. That's something I think we need to consider and we would look at toward the end."
"Esther - Living a Life of Purpose Now" will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday at Harvest Community Church, 13301 Eastfield Road, Huntersville. The presentation is free and open to the community, and no reservations are required.
For more information, visit www.stanfordministry.com.