She was 20 years and from New Zealand. I asked her how her parents felt about her being so far away and she kinda laughed. “Well, they were concerned about the hurricane. I didn’t even know about the hurricane!”
My new friend, Christyana, was managing the Fast Pass Kiosk of the Frozen Sing-a-Long Show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
We were there early for the 7:30 show, the last show of the day, and I began our short conversation by commenting on her accent.
The Disney Parks are staffed by countless people varying in ages and backgrounds from literally all around the globe. They are all called “Cast Members” whether they dress up as a mouse or clean the bathrooms. Their name tags are a simple oval shape with their name and hometown. And they are literally EVERYWHERE.
Disney is known for their immaculately clean parks and excellent customer service – all accomplished by Cast Members.
As a guest in the park it would be extremely easy to take these people and their jobs for granted. They are rushed by, overlooked and often ignored. They deal with grumpy, sweaty, people who often feel entitled because of the price they may have paid for admittance. Yet, they ALL seem to smile and speak in pleasant tones even when explaining why your child cannot climb on the landscaping.
In the last year, we had a good friend spend not one but two semesters working a ride in Pandora of the Animal Kingdom Park. Cast Members took on a new meaning to us as we visited Walt Disney World over fall break. We had listened to her stories and had asked her a bazillion questions, learning how often Cast Members just longed to be acknowledged as people too.
While on past trips we had always tried to be nice to Cast Members, this trip we were intentional to look Cast Members in the eyes, to say a genuine “thank you” and, when we could, strike up a conversation. . .
That’s how I met Christyana. She wasn’t just a show kiosk attendant. She IS a person with a background and a story and a soul. She is one of nearly 60,000 that may work there during a peak season.
But there is only one Christyana. God made her, loves her, sent His Son to die for her and wants a relationship with her – just like every other Cast Member – and every other “incidental” person that I share the road with, stand in line at the grocery with and sit with in the dentist’s waiting room.
Knowing in my heart that God is sovereign and that nothing happens accidentally, my intentionality at Disney NEEDS to carry over to my everyday life here at home too.
I often tell the teens in my Sunday school class that it isn’t accidental that they sit where they do in their classes. Even if their teacher allowed them to choose their seat, God put them there with those kids and that teacher for His purpose.
If I hold to His control over ever incident and nothing is coincidental, then that truth carries over in other places too.
The chances I will ever see or speak to Christyana again aren’t great. I didn’t speak to her about Jesus. I know nothing about her faith – but I do know about mine.
My faith doesn’t allow me to blow past and not engage those around me and it compels me to speak up, reaching out to acknowledge the humanity and Imago Dei, the image of God, He intentionally placed in us all.
My prayer is that as I do engage people in conversation that the Holy Spirit will move and speak and use these encounters to draw others to Himself.
My calling is to be obedient to that compulsion, trusting that God knows the heart and the past of the individual I am engaged with and that He will take care of all the rest – whatever it needs to be. I just need to see others the way He does and obey.
My husband, Wally, and I have said since our first joint visit to Disney World ten years ago that when we “retired” we would move to Orlando and get jobs as Cast Members. Loving the discount and being assured that our girls would bring their families to visit were two of the perks we listed as reasons for this plan. Another reason would be to set up an intentional ministry to Cast Members. Maybe they would come from all over the globe thinking that they were coming to work at “The Happiest Place on Earth,” but maybe, God in His sovereignty would have them coming there to meet Him. Maybe God would use us to reach them.
Maybe there are Cast Members here in our every day life that God wants to reach through us now.
Lord, open my eyes to see the people “in the background” of my life. Help me to see them the way that you do. Find me obedient to the prompting of Your Spirt and use me however You will to do whatever You would have me to do.
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