Jonathan Whitaker is living a dream-fulfilling dual role. By day, he's a social worker at the Salvation Army corps (church) office in Waynesville, N.C. But just about every night, patrons of Carolina Nights dinner theater see a much different side of Jonathan. He and a troupe of entertainers sing and joke their way through a family-oriented program.
Whitaker has been singing in public from an early age and professionally for the past 10 years. He has performed at events and private gatherings all over the East Coast. He joined the troupe at Carolina Nights in 2002.
"Before I was saved, I sang in bars," Whitaker said. "But when my sons came along, I knew I had to have a definitive change in my life. I decided to return to church and stop singing in places where I shouldn't be."
Whitaker testifies that his decision to accept Christ as Savior occurred in his own living room. A series of events led to his employment as a caseworker at the Waynesville Corps.
Whitaker, who has no formal music training, uses his performing talents as another form of ministry. The shows at Carolina Nights are wholesome and family-friendly. Dinner is served during a two-hour show of topnotch comedy, magic, dance, and song.
"These performers have become like a second family," Jonathan says. "Many of them are Christians, so we have connected very well. One member is youth pastor in a Waynesville church," Whitaker says.
Jonathan says he's proud to be providing something that is "sadly lacking" in the world today: entertainment that's fit for people of all ages.
As a son of former Salvation Army officers, for his whole life Whitaker witnessed in his Christian parents the importance of helping people in need. That's why he loves his days as a caseworker as much as his nights in the spotlight.