The familiar story of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, as detailed in Luke Chapter 2 and the book of Matthew, takes on special meaning each year for the boys and girls who plan, script and choreograph the Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch Christmas cantata. It’s an inspiring story, staged each December both by and for the hundreds of at-risk boys and girls who live in this safe haven 36 miles northwest of Amarillo.
“I enjoy getting to be a part of something bigger than me,” said Isaiah Brown, 14, who portrays Joseph. “Cantata is important. We get to show everyone when, where how and why Jesus was born.”
Each Christmas season in the Boys Ranch Chapel, our youth, with guidance from our chapel staff, Boys Ranch youth produce an entirely new creative retelling of this miraculous event. They apply their talents to make each part of the performance – the lighting, narration, music and more – the best it can be. In the process, our young people learn much more than the history of Jesus’ time on earth. The experience offers them insights into their peers and mentors at Boys Ranch, and certainly the very real need shared by all people for hope in our lives — something Cal Farley’s has decades of experience providing for children from across the United States.
“We have more than 60 participants this year, a record,” explained Chaplain Ray Martinez, who organizes each year’s child actors, singers and stage crew. “The kiddos are working so hard, and doing a great job!”
A staple in each year’s cantata is a time of “cardboard testimonies.” One by one, our youth share their own stories through this visual representation of their lives’ journeys. They cross the chapel stage with a piece of cardboard, on which is written a word or phrase that defined their life before coming to Boys Ranch. While one side bears the person’s initial feelings of helplessness or hopelessness, the other side proclaims the hope they have found in the person of Jesus Christ.
Phrases like “I was hated,” “worn out by poverty” and “I didn’t know who I was” are replaced by “I am loved,” “provided for” and “I know who I am in Christ.”
While cantata is always anticipated by the Boys Ranch community, it’s made even more special in that some of our young people are able to welcome their families to our campus to watch them put their best foot forward.
“I’m looking forward to a beautiful night together as we celebrate the birth of Christ!” Martinez said.
The public can enjoy this year’s performance, too, by visiting Cal Farley’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CalFarleysOfficial/videos/375590359863891.