Cheryl and Dale at the Because of Grácia premiere in Franklin, Tennessee
In the beginning, to be honest, we hadn’t really expected to be so drawn to the film as we were. I know it’s probably surprising to read that, especially when the writer/director is such a good friend of ours. But usually we don’t really go to see Christian or faith-based films, so when our friend Tom Simes asked us to take a look at the rough cut for Because of Grácia (BOG), we did it because he asked us and because we appreciated the play BOG was based on he’d written and produced with so much talent many years before.
My husband Dale and I watched the rough cut with his parents (my in-laws), who are both in their 80’s. We thought it would be a great idea to get their feedback on it as well as a nice way to spend an evening with them. The rough cut by the way, was basically a bunch of friends and students of Tom’s who agreed to act out the screen version of the play and film it at Tom’s school. So there were no professional actors, no expensive equipment, and no big names. But by the end of the evening, all of us were crying.
One of the things that caught our attention the most I think, was the fact that even though the stories were written about teenagers and their experiences in high school, there was something for every age in the film. Each teenager was not just a stand-alone character interacting with their peers, but was given a full role as parts of families and relationships within that family. Parents doing their best to show love and present stable role models, a pastor father losing the balance between ministry and family, humour and family traditions, teenagers interacting with both the good and not so good aspects of their family foibles – it was all there. These were not just 2 dimensional characters trotting out the familiar lines and quotes included in many a faith based film. These strongly written teens saw, felt and interacted with the good, bad and the ugly about everyday, real life.
Also, although the original theme was about the real and present struggle of how teens can live out their faith at school, there were so many other core issues that came out of this very realistic storyline. These were struggles most kids have, finding their way in teenage dating relationships, dealing with bullying, struggling with discerning the difference between freedoms and healthy guidelines in their lives - these are just some of the side stories and themes that present themselves in this excellent film.
We decided to support Because of Grácia and become part of the investors’ team because we believe in this film on so many levels. It touches everyone who sees it, whether they are a Christian or not, and also encourages many to start seeing what all the fuss is about regarding a relationship with God. We connect with it in our 50’s and our parents in their 80’s because as parents and grandparents we have experienced some of these situations ourselves, or have seen our kids or grandkids encounter many of the challenges presented in this movie. Although the original purpose of the film was to connect with teens, it connects on a deep level to a multi-generational viewing audience. Any film that does this so well with such integrity and includes the stellar acting and directing that this one does deserves to be seen by all.
Pastors are human. Pastors are parents. Pastors need our prayers and support.
Here’s a cautionary tale from one pastor about how Because Of Grácia impacted his relationship with his teenage daughter.
Thank you Pastor James for your honesty!
“Recently one of my daughters has become interested in a particular boy from her youth group. We have this rule of no dating until 16 and she is 15 so not there yet. As a dad it’s hard for me because I’m not used to sharing the affections of my daughter with another guy. And the fact that my daughter has made some not so wise choices that are a poor reflection of her godly character.
This breaks my heart as a father and makes me feel like a failure as a pastor. I related personally to Pastor Ryan in the movie in regard to his relationship with his daughter Bobbi.
Pastors can have a difficult time not allowing the pressures of ministry to filter into their home. Sometimes those pressures end up affecting the relationship of those who are nearest and dearest to us. Dealing with a cocktail of emotions… anger, disappointment, failure, depression, feeling extremely vulnerable and exposed. These feelings unfortunately carried into our conversations with my daughter that turned into screaming matches. These often ended in me saying things I don’t really mean in my heart and resulted in slamming doors.
It’s easier to look from the outside in to see where things have come off the rails - like watching it unfold in the movie. However when you’re in the middle of it, in your own home, it’s very different to stop, step back and evaluate.
I want my daughter to know that I love her more than I love the church. I want her to know my love for her is not conditional. I want my daughter to rely on God’s Holy Spirit for matters of the heart. I want my daughter to know I trust her and to trust me that I’ve set parameters to protect her.
I recognize that my daughter and I are long overdue for a daddy/daughter date.
This movie is so real to life, it was my wake up call."