Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Not All Fun and Games Christian Clowns Deliver Message with Laughs

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Not All Fun and Games Christian Clowns Deliver Message with Laughs

Article excerpt

AUGUSTA -- Life beat a monotonous refrain of work, home, work, home for Cathy Sauls until a red-nosed 5-year-old with green hair and grease paint liberated her.

As Bubbles the Clown, her alter ego, Sauls found what she desperately needed -- friends who appreciated her sense of humor, she said.

"It is amazing what being accepted will do." It has helped her faith grow tremendously, she said. "God just picked me up out of the muck and mire of loneliness and brushed me off."

As a child, she remembers always being the last one picked. "Bubbles" seeks out the child others shun.

"I pray that if they know that I can accept them, they will see that God can accept them, and maybe one day that will lead them to Christ."

Sauls, a member of New Hope Church of God in Grovetown, performs with the 30-member Georgia-lina Clowns and is helping to rejuvenate Cliffwood Clowns, a ministry at Cliffwood Presbyterian Church.

There are no statistics on the number of Christian clowns, but the Rev. Buddy "Budzo" Lamb of Columbus, drama consultant for the Georgia Baptist Convention, said that about 200 attend Christian clown conventions in Georgia. He estimates there are five to 10 more at home for each one who goes.

Clowning is growing because America wants to laugh, said Lamb, pastor of Schomburg Road Baptist Church in Columbus and a clown for 25 years. Clowning workshops are widely available and are raising skill levels.

The age of the "jump-suit, lipstick and funny-looking hat" is long gone, he said.

Combining clowning with the Christian message has a powerful impact, he said. People, young and old, will listen to a clown.

"Clowning is more than an art form. It is a heart form. I really feel like people are finding there is a tremendous satisfaction and fulfillment in being a character larger than life," he said.

There's also money in clowning. Professional laugh-makers can earn $160 an hour at a birthday party, more than other entertainers, such as puppeteers or sketch players, Lamb said. …

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