Jennifer Garner's Latest Role Brings a Resurgence in Faith

(photo: Image Credit: Sony Pictures)

Most folks in Hollywood don't talk much about religion. Jennifer Garner, star of the upcoming film “Miracles from Heaven,” admits that she, too, had gotten away from her faith and no longer attended church services on Sunday. “While I've always gone to church in West Virginia,” she said at a recent roundtable discussion in Dallas, “I really got away from it after I moved to Los Angeles. There, people of faith are often regarded as outsiders.”

But then Garner got the starring role in the upcoming film “Miracles from Heaven.” Garner played Christy Beam, a Texas mother whose daughter Annabel suffered from pseudo-obstruction motility disorder, a debilitating disease that made it impossible to digest her food. Annabel required frequent hospitalization and several emergency surgeries, and she depended on feeding tubes for nutrition. After a life-threatening fall from a tree, Annabel was miraculously restored to full health—and afterward, she told her parents about the hours when she'd been trapped, and about visiting heaven and talking with Jesus. 

“Miracles from Heaven” opens in theaters March 16; but I was among reporters invited to attend a red carpet premiere in Dallas. In a round-table discussion after the film on February 20, Jennifer Garner and the real-life Christy Beam talked about “Miracles from Heaven” and the amazing miracle by which Annabel's health was restored.

Christy Beam had always been a Christian, but her faith was tested when nothing relieved her daughter Annabel's constant pain. Looking back on that stressful time, Christy reflected, “You can't lose hope, because you don't know the whole story. You have to keep moving; if you don't, you won't ever know what the ending will be.”

For Jennifer Garner, playing the role and getting to know the Beam family inspired her to refocus on her faith and to treasure the small moments with her own children. “Find joy in the small things,” she encouraged the reporters gathered to talk with her in a local pub. Her own mother had emphasized the importance of finding joy in life—taking time to appreciate family and friends. 

Jennifer was also inspired by the Beam family and urged by her own children to return to church. After she took her family to see a preview of “Miracles from Heaven,” she told reporters, the kids asked her why their never went to church. She began taking them to services each Sunday. “This week,” she said, “I'm traveling, so I won't be with them; but they're going to church on their own.”