Sarah Borgman had been trying for some time to lure someone to Columbus for an event that the entire family could enjoy.
In her role as youth director at First United Methodist Church, she had tossed around various ideas, including musical performers, before one day, she found a postcard sitting on her desk.
“I decided to check it out,” Borgman said. “Our program director, her and I got together here and we’re like, ‘Let’s do this.’”
That postcard came from the publicist of Bryan Drake, an illusionist who has performed across the United States over the past 12 years. Eventually, the two got in touch and managed to land Drake’s services for the night of Sept. 4 (at 7 p.m.) in the Nantkes Performing Arts Auditorium at Columbus Middle School.
Tickets for the event are $10 in advance or $12 at the door, and can be ordered by calling the church at 402-564-8463. Doors open at 6:15 p.m.
According to Drake’s website, he is not just an illusionist, but also a mentalist and a motivational speaker. Most importantly, he is a Christian illusionist, which made him an obvious fit for the FUMC youth group.
“He’s very well known for bringing Scripture into his illusions,” Borgman said. “The Gospel and Scripture are woven into every illusion he performs.”
Drake refers to himself as an evangelist, as well, and that evangelism is on display in his work. He uses an example from his work to illustrate how his faith and his work are intertwined in the show.
“If I tell someone to think of a name, the only way people are impressed is if it’s the right answer,” Drake said. “There are infinite wrong names that it could have been, but there’s only one right answer. It ties into a verse Jesus talks about, especially John 14:6, which talks about, ‘I am the way, the truth and the light.’ One of the lies we tell ourselves on a daily basis is that we can do whatever with whoever however we want and it’s fine because we all get to the same place. But, Jesus makes very specific claims that go against conventional knowledge.”
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Drake will perform a variety of different stunts and illusions and he changes up his show every year. It's not just to keep it fresh and provide a unique experience for the audience, but also to put together the very best show that he and his wife, Karla, can.
“We have enough material for three separate shows,” Drake said. “We’re always constantly developing new material, so we like to keep that together. That’s where Karla really comes in; she develops a lot of the routines that we do and really works them out.”
Drake and his wife are self-taught and everything within the show has been honed through years of practice. The vision is simple: Imagine just what the act will look like after it has been completed, and go from there.
“The idea is, ‘OK, that’s the end result. Let’s work backward; how do we get there without stabbing yourself in the hand?’” Drake said. “You chisel away until you build that routine.”
Both Drake and Borgman have different ideas for how they envision next Wednesday night to proceed. For the performer, it’s all about leaving the audience speechless.
“Because our focus is evangelism first, we never want to water down the art that we do,” Drake said. “We believe strongly that you should do everything to excellence, so we want to do the very best show where people walk away and go, ‘That was the craziest experience I’ve ever had,’ but knowing that it is a vehicle strictly to get to the Gospel.”
Borgman just wants to see the community come out and have a fun evening. She would love to have 500 people come out, come together and do something that she feels has been missing from the Columbus scene for far too long.
“The community hasn’t had an event like this in a long time,” Borgman said. “This is more of an outside event to bring in and an opportunity for people to come together, meet each other, be entertained and also at the same time, experience Scripture opened up to them in a way that they have never thought before."
Zach Roth is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.