I always get excited seeing the arts used to draw people to Jesus. The theatrical stage has a special intrigue for me personally but movies provide a very satisfying and more accessible option. The challenge: movie theaters and DVD shelves have not historically or widely been a welcoming place for Christians. So when I first had the opportunity to attend the Gideon Media Arts Conference & Film Festival (formerly sponsored by Lifeway Christian Stores) in 2011, I was very excited to begin discovering some wonderful films produced by very gifted people who were pursuing quality stories and seeking top production values in the name of Jesus.
God seemed to start stirring ideas about how Walk Right In Ministries might use movies to bring people together for encouraging fellowship where Christ is central to the conversation. Then, by no coincidence, we attended the Gideon in August 2012 where several films were shared on themes related to our mission (e.g., disability, addiction, redemption). We also began experiencing unique and unexpected opportunities to connect with key producers.
We had dinner one night with Jon Erwin, producer of October Baby, along with his wife Beth and kids. The night before, we'd been captivated by his film inspired by a woman with cerebral palsy. It is one of the best and most meaningful movies I've seen in many years — maybe ever. My heart was racing wondering how in the world our little ministry could use this profound movie that had shocked the industry earlier in the year when it opened No. 8 in theaters. Little did I know at the time how God would continue to refine that vision and open doors for us to get a license to show the film multiple times over the next year.
We also saw Jimmy and had the opportunity to talk with producer Gary Wheeler. Jimmy tells a neat story about a teen with cognitive disabilities. It focuses on relationships like the very special one he has with his grandfather. The public release of this film cannot come soon enough for my taste!
Our friend and producer Dave Moody is in post-production right now wrapping A Season of Miracles about a boy with autism, based on the screenplay by Rusty Whitener and starring John Schneider.
There were more stories and my movie list was growing. If you are among those people always on the lookout for wholesome if not Gospel-proclaiming entertainment, check out the largest list of Christian movies at Christian Film Database!
After the long ride home from North Carolina, I investigated using our church theatre to host Movie Night Fellowship & Discussion events. Walk Right In Ministries hosted the first of these events in October featuring the film October Baby and over 60 people showed up from around the Twin Cities! Though the stories are confidential, I can tell you from the prayer requests received that evening that God is using the film to release healing and begin a new work in hearts and lives. How humbling and exciting!
This weekend we're showing October Baby once again. This time we are hosting the Lupino Family Adoption Benefit. Please pray that God works mightily through the fellowship, movie, prayers, and donations to prepare this family for new beginnings!
I wish I'd had the stamina to stay up late for more of the screenings at the Gideon this year. It's a privilege to see projects of quality, vision and artistic genius from passionate, Christ-loving people trying to use their resources for Kingdom work. I hope Walk Right In Ministries can play some part in promoting these films, helping bring them to larger audiences.
We're anticipating the surprises of God's coming blessings as the Christian film industry is growing and improving and gaining new respect!