Sherwood Picture’s “Courageous” opens on 1,200 screens nationwide Friday. In the inspirational film about fatherhood – as told through the story of four police officers – you’ll find no coarse language, no gratuitous violence, no nudity or sexual innuendo. The Lord’s name is not taken in vain. In short, it’s a film you wouldn’t be embarrassed to watch with your family, your parents, your friends and neighbors, or your children.
There’s something else that you won’t see – and that is all of the work, prayer, and dedication that volunteers at Sherwood Baptist Church put in behind-the-scenes to bring this movie to fruition.
Albany, Ga. is home to seven different Baptist churches, a Methodist church, two Episcopal churches, a Catholic Church, a Presbyterian church, and at least four evangelical Christian churches, but only one of them is making movies. That’s Sherwood.
You might be asking yourself, why is a Catholic journalist pushing a film produced by a Baptist church? Would the Baptists promote a film by the Catholic Church?
I’m promoting it because I was touched not only by the dedication and faith of those who made the film, but as a father I was touched by the movie itself. It is Sherwood’s best film to-date, both in terms of cinematography and in terms of story. Like all of their films it crosses the line from story-telling to proselytizing. Some critics will attack the film for this. Yet, there’s still a place for “Courageous.” The film is at its strongest when it is telling a story, and that story will move men.
I’ve written extensively about “Courageous” because I was fortunate to be invited to be on-the-set during some of the shooting. I was able to interview the writers, director, and actors. I was able to attend the Atlanta premiere of the film. I had the opportunity to serve as an extra in the film’s 5K race scene, running beside friend and fellow Catholic writer and blogger Chris Faddis (for those who are interested, we did make the final cut. We can be seen briefly in the race scene on the right hand side of the screen). Most importantly, I was able to witness a community of faith pulling together to produce something inspirational.
While on the set, I couldn’t help but be moved by the vast number of church volunteers who pulled together to make meals, apply makeup, babysit, serve as actors and extras, create sets, deliver people and set pieces to where they needed to be, essentially made everything happen behind-the-scenes that needed to happen to schedule, produce and shoot, and edit a major film like this.
I was also eyewitness and participant in the sheer amount of prayer that went into this film. “Courageous” is surrounded and covered in prayer.
The decision to make the film and its subject is the fruit of prayer. Each day, as the shooting began, cast and crew gathered for prayer. Before meals, there was prayer. Before every scene was shot, there was prayer. I saw individual church members praying with actors before and after specific scenes were shot. At the film’s premiere in Atlanta, it opened with prayer. All along the way, church members, cast and crew have been praying not only for the film, but for all those who will see it on-screen and on DVD. They’ve been praying that the film might have a positive impact upon the viewers, upon our nation, upon fathers and mothers. They know well the power of prayer because they’ve seen the effects from their previous three films, and they’ve heard stories of how “Flywheel” led unscrupulous businessmen to change their ways, or how “Facing the Giants” led not only to prayer, but to couples conceiving children, or how “Fireproof” saved marriages in the U.S. and abroad. If “Courageous” succeeds, and I pray that it does, it will be due to prayer.
One doesn’t have to look far to see that we’re facing many crises in this country. Among them, absentee fathers and fatherlessness ranks among one of the largest. Courageous addresses that topic through its characters – a lazy father, a man who grew up without his father, an absent father. In so doing, it challenges men to embrace their responsibilities as fathers and protectors. Sherwood has partnered with a large number of Protestant and Catholic men’s ministries to provide the tools that men need to learn how to be the husbands and fathers that God intends them to be. It’s clear that the movie-makers want this film to be a movement – a movement of turning the children’s hearts to their fathers, and the father’s hearts to their children.
Do yourself and your family a favor. Go see “Courageous” this weekend and invite and encourage others to do likewise. “Courageous,” in short, is a movie that audiences want, and a film that America needs.