Randall Christy was stunned when he learned last year that the Great Passion Play was about to shut down for good.
The founder of the Ada-based Gospel Station Network was a fan of the long-running tourist attraction in Eureka Springs, Ark., which uses a massive cast to tell the story of Christ’s life. When Christy heard that the nonprofit foundation that sponsors the play was on the verge of bankruptcy, he decided to step in.
Christy said he did not pray or consult friends before making his decision, because he knew the attraction needed his help.
“When I heard that the Great Passion Play was closed for good, it was heartbreaking, and I felt compelled to take action to try and save it,” Christy said Thursday.
‘It was close’
Christy traveled to Eureka Springs for a Dec. 21, 2012, meeting with the attraction’s board of directors and the bank that held the mortgage. They worked out a deal to save the attraction and pay off its $2.54 million debt, but there was a catch.
Bank officials wanted Christy to come up with $75,000 by Jan. 1 in order to stop the bank from foreclosing on the attraction.
Christy sent out an appeal to supporters of the Gospel Station Network, asking them to consider donating money to the cause. News outlets in Arkansas publicized his efforts to save the play, and donors rallied to help.
Ten days after the meeting, Christy presented $75,000 to the bank and launched the Gospel Station Network’s partnership with the Great Passion Play.
Christy arrived in time to save the attraction from ending its 46-year run, said assistant executive director Kent Butler.
“Just by the grace of God, we’ve been able to continue,” he said. “It was close.”
Getting ready for the season
But the task of saving the attraction was just beginning. The next step was getting ready for the 2013 season.