MOUNT VERNON — Tragedy is “an event causing great suffering, destruction and distress.” Triumph is “joy or satisfaction resulting from a success or victory.” It is in the space between tragedy and triumph where many find their path and the voice to tell their story. Three such stories will come to life as Mount Vernon Nazarene University hosts Tragedy into Triumph, March 18-20.

Tragedy into Triumph, now in its 11th year, is a three-part experience that will connect the audience with three unique people who will share their personal stories of tragedy and how a common thread — God — helped them rise from the pits of despair to soar like an eagle.

“I am extremely excited about bringing Tragedy into Triumph to campus in collaboration with the North Central Ohio District,” said MVNU President Dr. Henry W. Spaulding II. “It will be an evangelistic event for our students and for the Mount Vernon community. The speakers will tell their story of how God turned their personal tragedy into triumph. This message is central to the mission of MVNU and we pray all who attend will be blessed.”

Speakers include:

Monday, March 18 — Rifqa Bary will share her journey through fear and cancer and describe how she found strength in her faith. Bary made national headlines at the age of 16 when she left her family in Ohio after announcing she had converted from Islam to Christianity four years earlier.

Tuesday, March 19 — Former Oklahoma Sooner and Seattle Seahawk Brian Bosworth will detail how drug addiction, defiance and demise nearly ruined his life. It was not until he found God that he found true success.

Wednesday, March 20 — Siran Stacy was handed unimaginable loss when he lost his wife and four children when a drunk driver hit their vehicle. He credits God for the “victory” that resulted and for carrying him over the struggles of loss, confusion and depression. Stacy is a former University of Alabama and Philadelphia Eagles running back.

Rev. Wendell Brown, superintendent for the North Central Ohio District and founder of Tragedy into Triumph, believes in the power of testimonies and community worship as a means to either introduce people to God or reinvigorate one’s faith through real life stories of transformation. He purposefully designed the experience to focus on the stories and leave “preaching” for the church service.

“The story is most important. The reality is the story really resonates with people,” Brown said. “Guests will get great worship and no one is going to preach at you. You are simply going to hear a story and you are going to have an opportunity to decide whether that story is for you, whether you believe it or not.”

The event, which begins each night at 7 p.m., is free and open to the public. Doors of the R.R. Hodges Chapel/Auditorium open at 6 p.m. Erik Bledsoe will lead worship each night.

The event is simulcast nationally to churches around the nation with a reach of over 100,000 people.

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