Our Journey

India has a long evolution of its theatrical expressions. The diversity of the land paved way for opportunities to be creative in traditional story telling. It played a major role in documenting the events and transforming enerations. Yes, theatrical plays have its own effectiveness in reaching concepts, values and history to the native inhabitants.


Understanding the vital role of such strong media, the early missionaries and churches incorporated indigenous folk forms for proclamation. Evidentially this proclamation started in the 14th century where we have a palm script of a folk presentation entitled “Kallarai Vasagappa”. It portrays Jesus agony and crucifixion incorporating the rituals of Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday. This methodology has been applied to other characters of Bible and saints of Catholic Church later. Eventually, the most impacting script of Jesus passion and Resurrection, the core of Good News, continued with technological updates.


The 16th century witnessed the evolution of storytelling, shadow puppetry, skin toys play (Tholl Paavai Koothu) toy shows (Bommalattam) and then into the re-enactments of human cast.


The elongation of such expressions is “Pascua Drama” the Passion Play, performed in many places of Tamilnadu during the Lenten Season. There are rural communities, in simple term the villages, performing the drama during the Easter Season. It became a Feast or Festival of the cluster of villages. Though many places have stopped performing the “Pascua” due to multiple reasons, the tradition is still continued in 39 locations of Tamilnadu and few among them are aging 100 plus years. In many places, the Christian Community is fond of enacting the “Via Dolorosa” or “Way of the Cross” which is almost a short version of “Pascua” enacting the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ. 


Passion Play as Ministry

The same was the scenario around the world since the space between words in the Bible and the Life explained in it required to be filled. Also, not just an annual event or a business, there is a great need for telling the story of passionate Jesus to people around the globe. Many churches and organizations initiated media approaches, but those too were shrunk to the local level or once again become seasonal stimulations. On the other side, there are many commercial events centering the Passion of Christ in the west. In order to give a better professional Ministerial solution, Father God gave a vision to Stan Burgett who is the founder and executive director of Passion Play Ministries International Inc. 


Passion Play Ministry became International

When Stan Burgett was 15 years old, he witnessed a simple Easter pageant (crucifixion drama) presented at a church where his father pastored in Iowa. He became actively involved in reaching out to the community through that small production. When Stan, Linda and their son Tyler moved to Denver, their passion for telling the story of the gospel through drama came with them. Stan’s church family agreed to host an expanded version of the play that he had developed entitled, “He’s Alive”. The re-enactment of events surrounding the death and resurrection of Jesus attracted cast members from 30 churches. In 1985, two thousand people came to see the first production which was held at the Jefferson County fairgrounds. The play has been performed in Denver every year since then across the metro area.


On the last night of the performance in 1994, Garry Knight was turned away from a full house. Just before he turned to go, a seat was found for him in a remote corner, and he strained to see the incredible events unfolding on the stage. Shortly after, Garry called Stan from Las Vegas asking if it would to produce the play there, and the vision for Passion Play Ministries International(PPMI) was born. Hundreds of churches and thousands of people have since become involved both nationally and internationally reaching tens of thousands annually in more than 35 cities, in ten languages; with the greatest news the world has ever known “He’s Alive!”.


Passion Play Ministries India

The Passion Play India is rooted via South Africa. In the year 2000, the pioneering leaders; Pastor Sam Jacob, Dr. Samuels and Mr. Jesudass, from India expressed their interest and the International Ministry responded to support enabling a Host City. As a result, in 2001, the ministry was launched at Yellagiri Hills, Tamilnadu, India. The realistic approach of presentation made many people to invite to host the performances in and around Vellore District of Tamilnadu. Until 2013… we were event ministry team with live-dialogued performances responding invitation, since we copycat the United States’ hosting methodology. Resources procured by the support of International Ministry helped us to present two to three performances annually. 


Passion Play India

When Vineed Joseph moved to Thiruvannamalai in 2012, the mission was brought into reach local community. The technical excellence of Rev.Fr. Ernest Rosario,SDB (Catholic Priest and Rector of Siharam Don Bosco), passionate out-reach vision of Pastor Robinson, theatrical excellence of Rev.Jeevarathinam (Lutheran Priest and Artist) and Rev.Joshua Peter (Lutheran Priest & National Executive Secretary of UELCI) joined hands to the desire of launching Passion Play. As per the will of God, we branched out in 2014 at Thiruvannamalai with pre-recorded approach which was the first initiative among twenty-five cities around the globe. The mission was further extended to enable new teams in different parts of Tamilnadu as per the International vision “plant the ministry.” The South Indians quickly adopted the theatrical vision due to their strong exposure to art and culture. In this seven years of journey, only by the divine plan and guidance, the ministry is planted in five places (Thiruvannamalai, Vellore, Periyakulam, Bengaluru and Kanniyakumari) with team of ministers and contributors who are all voluntarily willing to involve in hosting the passion play annually. 


Conceptual Evolution 

Initially the pre-recorded approach was chosen to overcome the sound related technical hazards in an open ground. But it kindled us to create new localized strategies, better training module for performers, all for all character system and four-fold processes in hosting. Performance is the climax of its process which precedes raise of ecumenical/inter-denominational body of ministers with oneness; sharing the responsibilities ranging from Human resource to Fundraising, train the volunteers in theatre, dialogues and matching audio, performance and follow-up of strengthening the in-reach as well as out-reached individuals. 


Resource Evolution 

By His amazing grace we were trained well by the international community from theyear 2000 including through overseas exposures. But at time of launching Passion Play in 2014 we had only one stage prop in our hand, cross offered by a local church. And then the script was completely recorded by the great effort of Salesians of Don Bosco and PPI Thiruvannamalai at no cost. Progressing further, The Lord Almighty provided us major props in 2015, backdrop frames in 2016, big portion of costumes in 2017, effective missionaries from Vellore & Periyakulam in 2018 and a first-of-its-kind presentation in the Kannada language in 2019, which had the locals from various language backgrounds as part of the performance.


Legalizing Activities 

We are strategically in partnership with Passion Play Ministries International,who has shared the greatest vision to reach India for Christ in 2000. They continue to support us on the basis of script updates, technical advancements of theatre field and need based trainings. We are spiritually guided by our parent ministry – Passion Play Ministries of Yellagiri Hills. They support us through their prayers and patronage. Our growing number of host communities and the political situations in India has enforced us to establish a legalized organization. So, Passion Play India was registered on 10th October 2019 with the delegates from each Host Community.


Year-long Plans 

Follow-up visits to host communities: Monthly prayer and fellowship meetings are being organized at all the host communities. This helped sustaining the spirit of oneness among them, strengthen them in Ministry, and effective in-reach is being done throughout the year.


Annual gathering of leaders: The National Resource Team will gather in the first week of January, the Advisory Committee will gather in the third week of May, the General Body will gather in the third week of August, and the Executive Team will gather in the third week of November for Annual Workshop. All these gatherings will be organized by the National Board and hosted by one of the host community.


Annual/Seasonal Tasks: The scheduling for training and practices, pre-launch plenary discussions and hosting pre-requisites will be done in the month of January. The rehearsals, promotions and procurements will take place in the month of February and March.


Our ministry demands worldly professionalism for Godly experience at every moment. With the divine help, we are constantly trying our best to glorify Him in the journey of Passion Play India. Further God is also recognizing our desire and continuously proving that… 


“The Lord is not being slow in carrying out his promises, as some people think he is; rather is he being patient with you, wanting nobody to be lost and everybody to be brought to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9”.