Can a Faith-Based Film “Make It”

 

The latest Faith Based Film to hit the big screen, The Shack, just did 16 million its opening weekend, and if we look through history it can be seen that there is a place for God in the entertainment industry. According to Fox News, the top ten highest grossing faith-based films are:

1. The Passion of the Christ, $611,899,420

2. Heaven is for Real, $ 100,469,789

3. War Room, $67,790,117

4. God’s Not Dead, $60,755,732

5. Son of God, $59,700,064

6. Soul Surfer, $43,853,424

7. The Nativity Story, $37,629,831

8. Courageous, $33,456,317

9. Fireproof, $33,456,317

10. Risen, $33,147,242

A quick glance at the above list shows that there is room for God in the entertainment industry, and maybe even an untapped thirst for more films focused on religion of faith-based themes.

Of course, the creation of faith-based films is much deeper than trying to make a successful movie. Although there is a fiscal goal, there are also many intangible reasons as to why one would want to make a faith-based film. In our case, we want Faith Ties to spread the message of Faith, Hope and Love to as many people as possible.

FEAR

Maya on conquering Fears

Maya is one of the main characters in the film, Faith Ties. More about Maya later.

I was reading back through some old journals reflecting on how things have changed for me over the years. In my notes, I saw thoughts that I had written from the bible and from other people about fear. I have notes that speak of fear as an acronym – False Evidence Appearing Real. I have notes that talk about how 95% of the things you fear never happen anyway. With all of the knowledge that I have gained about fear and all of the studying that I still do, I have never been able to reason away my fears. That feeling above all has dogged me my whole life.

At one point in my life, I came across a book that touted the philosophy of, “Feel the fear and do it anyway.” That was the thought that turned things around for me. So much so that in 2000 when I decided to take on one of my biggest fears (my fear of heights), the way I did it was to schedule my birthday that year around skydiving – What?! I drove out to Arizona with my best friend Paul to meet with another friend, Naomi, who lived in Arizona. Naomi had made arrangements for the two of us to jump while Paul filmed the whole thing from the ground. I was most certainly feeling the fear! When we got to the location, everything seemed to be happening so fast. I signed papers that I read over and over again and still had no real idea what they said since my brain decided not to accompany me on this journey. I watched videos and the next thing I knew, I was strapped into a harness, escorted to a plane and we were off. I was trying to tell myself that it was just an emotion and it can’t conquer me. I was brave, brave, brave until…they opened the door of the plane. I was to be the first one out – so now everyone was waiting on me. My heart was pounding and my knees didn’t feel like they were able to support my weight. What had I done?! I finally got over to the door reminding myself that my God was bigger than any fear. So I thanked God, and then I jumped.

I wish I could say after that experience that I proved to myself what a wasted emotion fear is and that I never felt fear again. But of course, that is not what happened. What I did do was to continue researching fear. I became acquainted with General Patton’s quotes on fear such as “Fear kills more people than death” and “If we take the generally accepted definition of bravery as a quality which knows no fear, I have never seen a brave man.” Realizing that the feeling won’t go away, I instead make myself focus on what I am working to achieve. I remember the quote from the civil rights movement “Eyes on the prize” and that is what I make myself do with fear now; I keep my eyes on the prize.

So here I am again embarking on a big journey with lots of potential for failure; and of course, fear is present. The one thing that fear will no longer do is keep me from moving forward. I know a lot of people working on big things right now and I always encourage them to feel the fear, but know the truth; if God put it in our hearts to do, then God will also make a way. The Pastor in the script “Faith Ties” knows this. But his wife Maya (I told you we would get back to her), and in fact the rest of the church, still have to learn it. In the future, Maya will go on to lead an International Food ministry (she doesn’t know this yet), but she must first learn to rely on something other than her own skills. Fear won’t let her take on anything bigger than her capabilities. And most of the rest of the congregation is in lock-step with that emotion. I wrote the character of Maya to represent my own fears. I certainly hope that others are inspired by her journey.

As Small As A Mustard Seed

As I begin the journey to produce the film, Faith Ties, I am continually drawn to the biblical story of Gideon in Judges Chapter 6. Gideon was among the Israelites that were enslaved by the Midianites. God told Gideon that he would defeat the Midianites. “Who, me?! My family is the weakest of the families and I am the least among my family.” But God had chosen him…so that’s that. After testing God a few times, Gideon finally believed that it was in fact God that was sending him to defeat the Midianites. When Gideon set out to go after the Midianites army, God told Gideon that he had too many men. He was going up against an army of over 100,000 with only 30,000 men, but God told him that if they were victorious with that size of an army, they could think that they were just that good. So God thinned out his army ultimately to only 300 men. And with those 300 men, God did give victory to Gideon and his army. I’ve left out some details, but that is basically the story.

So here I am taking on a task that is bigger than I feel I have the capacity to handle and yet I believe that I will get this done. I’d be lying if I said I have no fear; what I do have is the willingness to move forward even with that fear. The story of Faith Ties involves people who have grown up hearing about Faith and who understand it intellectually. But there is a difference between knowing something and being able to live it. So in one instance, there is a man (Chris) that had to deal with crushing heartache and he needed his Faith; but he had always relied on his own abilities. So when life happened to him, all he could do was take matters into his own hands to dull his pain. In the other instance, Maya is a very confident and capable woman. She is a mover and a shaker and she gets things done. But will she go the same route Chris did when having to deal with something beyond her capabilities?

I know a lot of people (in Church, out of Church, all walks of life) who understand the concept of Faith, but who move through the world only taking on things that are within their skill set. Of course, it is “wise” to stay within the limits of your capabilities; but that kind of “wise” living does not really require Faith in something bigger than you are.  So here I am, embarking on this journey to tell a story of Faith. And guess what I have to call on in order to complete this? Of course, you know; the answer is Faith. Jesus said that if we had “…faith the size of a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Have you ever had to have that much Faith to achieve something?