Lifemark: The Kendrick Brothers’ Latest
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Curious about the story behind Lifemark, the latest movie by the Kendrick brothers? Stephen & Alex discuss the stunning true story behind the film.
Stephen: We’ve told people: “If you hang out with us, you’ll be less impressed with us and more impressed with the God that we serve.”
Alex: That’s right.
Stephen: We don’t know what we are doing, but we are constantly praying and then following whatever God tells us to do. Then He blows our minds with the timing of how He works everything out.
Ann: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Ann Wilson.
Dave: And I’m Dave Wilson, and you can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com or on our FamilyLife® app.
Ann: This is FamilyLife—
Alright, we’ve got Alex and Stephen Kendrick in the studio with us today.
Ann: —which is—
Dave: They’ve got a movie coming out this week; it’s going to be awesome. We’re all going to the movies on Friday night.
Alex and Stephen, welcome to FamilyLife Today.
Alex: Good to see you guys again.
Stephen: It’s always good to talk to you guys.
Ann: We’re excited; we’re always excited to be with you. You’re producing such great material—movies for families—thanks for all you are doing. Tell us: what is your newest project?
Alex: You know, we had just finished Overcomer a few years ago, 2019; and Kirk Cameron gives me a call out of the blue. He says, “Hey, man, I’ve got something you’ve just got to look at.” He says, “I just saw this short documentary called I Lived on Parker Avenue.”
So I do; I pull it up and look at it. It impacts me way deeper than I would have expected. I show it to Stephen. It’s just beautiful, so we start talking about this being a feature film. The more Stephen and I prayed about it, the more we felt like the Lord was saying, “Yes, you are going to tell the story.”
Stephen: Total peace.
Alex: So we met the real people it is about; but essentially, it follows this 18-year-old girl, who, at the last second, rolls off the abortion table, says, “Don’t do this,” to the doctor. She places her baby for adoption. It’s adopted by a Christian couple, who could not have their own children. They name the baby David. When David turned 18, he crossed paths with his biological mother.
Well, she thought he would hate her. When he met her, he just wraps her up and cries, and says, “Thank you; thank you. Thank you for letting me live, for letting me be adopted. I love my life; I’m so grateful.” It just melts her heart. That was recorded; somebody video recorded that. We saw that interaction.
And then, both of them now speak for life, and the beauty of adoption, and share their story, and are impacting so many people’s lives. Kirk helped us turn this into a feature film about this true story. It comes out this week, September 9.
Alex: You can go to LifemarkMovie.com, find the theater that is closest to you; and we can’t wait for people to see it and to see what God does with it.
Ann: Well, the scene that you just described—with David hugging his birth mom—I had to pause it and tell Dave, “Pause it; I need to go get some Kleenex®.” [Laughter]
Dave: She literally did.
Ann: Yes, it is emotional.
Dave: I mean, we had popcorn—we watched it, obviously, in our living room, because we got an advanced screening—we had popcorn and Coke®. You can eat popcorn and Coke during this movie, but it is very emotional. [Laughter]
Stephen: Well, and you laugh too. We try to always have humor, inspiration, emotion, and truth all wrapped up into a bow.
Alex: Now, Ann, were you comforting him, when Dave was sobbing, watching this film? [Laughter]
Ann: Honestly, I’m going to tell you the truth—
Dave: Go ahead.
Ann: —that usually does happen—yes, it does. We’re both crying.
Dave: It is a 100 percent—every movie I’ve ever seen—I cry. I have a men’s group, and they just make fun of me. One time, we were on a trip; and they put in some movie that they are like, “There is no way you can cry in this movie!” I found a part in the movie that I cried. [Laughter]
Ann: You guys, it was Firehouse Dog!
Dave: Firehouse Dog. [Laughter]
Ann: Our son was in high school. He texted me, like, “Mom, Dad is crying at Firehouse Dog.” [Laughter]
Dave: When the dog comes back to the firehouse, it’s a tender moment.
Stephen: We need to send all of our movies to you, man.
Ann: Well, let me ask you: “Was this emotional, for you guys, to create this film?”
Alex: It was. Of course, Stephen has adopted his beautiful daughter, Mia.
Alex: But for me—and I have six kids, myself—but for me, you know what was so moving was having the real people on set with us, watching this be portrayed, and even being able to speak into it: “This is what I was thinking at this point,” “This is why I was nervous,” or “…what I was doing.” Our actors getting to talk to the real people about: “Walk us through this event in your life.” Then they were able to portray it on screen. That was just beautiful; it was emotional.
But again, I hope it just grabs the heart of the audience, too, because—if we can draw them to biblical truth, and how they view life/how they view the beauty of adoption—we just think it could make a huge impact.
Dave: I had not heard the term, lifemark, until I saw that moment in the movie. Explain that a little bit, because that was powerful.
Alex: At the end of the movie, David sends Melissa, his biological mother, this gift. She opens this small box. It’s—she sees a note first—and it says, “Dear Melissa, this is to mark the day you chose life.” She pulls out this pendant with lifemark on it; it’s the date she changed her mind and said, “I’m letting this child live. I’m going to place him for adoption.” The lifemark was that day, so she wears that now as a reminder of that beautiful choice: “I’m letting this child live. I’m letting him be adopted by a loving family.”
You know, the line is long for parents wanting to adopt—even in our country alone—that is a long line. With Roe v. Wade being overturned, there will be more births. We want people to know there is hope: if you cannot raise this child, then there are couples who are looking for a child to adopt. Of course, Stephen adopted his beautiful daughter Mia; and Kirk Cameron, himself, adopted four of his six children; and even his wife Chelsea was an adopted child; so it meant so much to our whole team. Again, we hope the audience agrees when they see it.
Dave: Yes; did you guys have any thought, when you were working on this movie, or even as you started to look at the script and write it out, that the Supreme Court ruling was going to come and your movie was going to release right after that? Was that in the plan?
Alex: You know, every time we say, “Lord, what do You want us to do?” He usually directs in a path; and we are like, “Okay, how is this going to go?”
Even when we did War Room, it scared us. The Lord was waking us up in the middle of the night. I remember waking up, and I would see these images in my head of this elderly woman, praying in a closet, teaching a young wife to do it as she faces a lot of hardship; and then all of these verses are coming to mind. I’m thinking, “Lord, is this the direction You want us to go?”—because closets aren’t cinematic; prayer is not that exciting to portray on film—“Are You sure You want us to make this movie?”
And War Room became our first number-one hit at the theater. It outdid every projection that Sony had, and we were astonished at its response. Sometimes, God says, “Trust Me first; then you’ll learn why later.”
So this movie, we didn’t know what was going to happen. We didn’t know about Roe v. Wade; we didn’t know about all the timing. The Lord did this, and that’s why we are so excited to see what the Lord does with this film.
Ann: I think the thing that is so impressive, you guys, is that you hear from God. You’re having dreams; you are having these pictures in your head. Is that typical for you both?
Alex: You know, I would say it is common; but the Lord sometimes moves in different ways. Sometimes, it’s the verse that jumps off the Bible page at you; and it’s like God said, “Focus on this theme right now.” Sometimes, it’s after a season of prayer, so He has [awakened] me in the night before. It’s not that way with every film; but what is common is the Lord pointing us in a direction. I’ll have a peace about it; Stephen will as well. We don’t move forward until we are in unity and just watching what God does.
Ann: But I think that’s encouraging because, sometimes, we want all the answers ahead of time.
Ann: But God is saying, “Go; walk forward. I’m giving you this direction.”
Ann: And then He gives you some of the pieces later.
Alex: That’s right.
Stephen: And walking by faith requires that we move forward in obedience with the light that He has illumined in front of a car, driving through the dark. When we move the hundred yards down the road, He illumines the next step that we need to take. If you read Hebrews 11, oftentimes, He gives them enough to obey Him; but then He reveals the next steps when they move forward in obedience.
Our whole journey has been us moving forward by faith; and then God then providing the rest of the script, or providing the resources to shoot it, or the locations. Sometimes, it is in the last hour when the Lord shows up with the Hail Mary pass in the end zone; but He has been faithful on every project we’ve worked on to carry us, and to lead us, and to bless.
We’ve gotten to the point, where we just know, if He confirms, He’s in it. That’s one of the keys. People say: “Oh, God told me to do this,” or “God told me to do that.” Well, He may or He may not have—but if He is in it—He will confirm it. He will confirm it with a peace; He will confirm it with His Word; He will confirm it, oftentimes, with counsel; circumstances will begin: doors will open and close; provision will fall into place.
We have learned that, if you get a great idea at 3 o’clock in the morning, it may be a dumb idea when you wake up and you really process it; but if it won’t go away, and it lines up with the Word, and the provision is showing up, and the door is opening, move forward by faith and trust the Lord.
Dave: I mean, what you are talking about—actually, happens, as you know—in the movie. I don’t want to give away the whole movie; I don’t know how much you want your listeners to know before they go to the theater. But when David’s mom is in the abortion clinic—I mean, I didn’t know that scene was coming—it’s later, and her lying there; it sure is portrayed that she heard: “Get out!”
Dave: Is that how it went down?
Alex: So yes; the way she tells it—two things happen there—when she is walking in, there is a Christian lady on the side, urging her not to go in. She literally said, “Ma’am, your baby has ten fingers and ten toes; please don’t kill it.”
Shelby: You are listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Stephen and Alex Kendrick on FamilyLife Today. We’ll hear more of the story in just a minute.
But first, I know some of you have actually already been to a Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway; but we just wanted to make sure you’ve heard that there is a lot that has changed. We have a new speaker line-up, an entirely different guidebook, and so much of the getaway has been changed and intentionally curated for you and your spouse to grow together. Right now would be a great time to head back to Weekend to Remember. Now, through September 19, they are 50 percent off. Find a date and location that works for you at FamilyLifeToday.com.
Alright; now, back to Dave and Ann with Stephen and Alex Kendrick and how the simple thought of your baby has ten fingers and ten toes kept repeating in David’s mom’s head while she was inside the abortion clinic.
Alex: She kept thinking of that: “This baby has ten fingers and ten toes. This is a human baby. This is not just a clump of mass and a clump of cells. This is a human life.” She went in; and then she is lying there; and she hears the voice, “Get up. There is still time,” which was just moments before the doctor started the procedure. She says/she sits up, and she says, “Please, don’t do this.” She gets off the table; it irritates the doctor. So she walks out, changes her clothes.
When she walks out of the center, of course, she never looks back. She said those moments—hearing the Lord prompt her, “Get up,” and that lady saying, “Your baby has ten fingers and ten toes,”—she said that couldn’t leave her mind, and she is so grateful. She said, “It was about three to four seconds, and David would not be here today.”
Alex: Today, just so you know, he recently passed the bar exam; he is now a full lawyer. He just got married, and he is helping couples adopt children. It is just so beautiful. This is now another generation that is being started because he is here. We’re very excited.
Stephen: We talk about how this movie demonstrates that one courageous decision, in a moment of fear, can bless and change so many lives. You see that, in that moment, where everything was against her—her feelings, her emotions, her boyfriend, everybody else—that she chose what she believed God was leading her to do, and then the blessings that have resulted, and now a movie that could potentially go to countries around the world and promote life and adoption for such a time as this.
Ann: Well, Stephen, you’ve had the opportunity to adopt your little girl, Mia. What did that feel like in the court room for her adoption? Take us back to that.
Stephen: Well, for us, my wife and I had had four biological children; and the Lord spoke to me on an airplane, when I was reading His Word. He confirmed in His Word; He confirmed it in what He was leading me to do with my wife, with prayer, and then the doors opened for us to adopt her. I remember being in China, meeting her for the first time/holding her for the first time; and there is this immediate bond that God gives you this love for this adopted child that is equal to your biological children. She has such a special place in my heart.
Then, through that process of adoption, you learn about spiritual adoption in living color in front of you; because Ephesians says: “God adopts us into His family when we give our lives to Christ.” He becomes our Father, and He loves us unconditionally; He blesses us with every spiritual blessing. He forgives us of all of our sins and pays all of our debts, and we have access to His heart/His throne, in prayer, because of that adoption. It was through that adoption process with Mia that all those light bulbs began to go on for me about what God does for each of one of His children.
Ann: It’s funny—I was just reading Romans 8 today—Romans 8:15 says:—
Dave: Because you’re doing your one-year Bible; I’m right behind you.
Ann: —“The Spirit you received does not make you slaves so that you live in fear again, rather the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship, and by Him, we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’”
Ann: Dave and I were just in the courtroom. Our middle son has two bio, daughter and son; and then he just adopted two sons, who are biological brothers. It was emotional. I think it’s exactly what you guys said/you said, Stephen, it makes you feel the beauty of God’s adoption toward us. Then you also see the beauty and grace of God taking us in/grafting us in. This little boy that they just adopted—he is our grandson.
Stephen: Yes, he is.
Dave: We just wept the whole time.
Ann: —the whole time. [Laughter]
Dave: It wasn’t that long of a process.
Alex: You, Dave?! You wept?! [Laughter]
Dave: I mean, here is a picture of—you know, this little sign that they took beforehand—
Dave: Before—every picture we sent out, you had to cover his face—because he was just a foster child; but now, he is:—
Dave: —“I am chosen; I am wanted; I am loved; I am accepted. I am a Wilson.”
Stephen: Yes! Come on, man!
Dave: As you guys know: sitting there, watching the judge say, “He has all the rights of being a Wilson, and you can never take these away.” I just/I was weeping because I knew the future he could have/or would have had,—
Dave: —and now, the future he will have.
It’s just/it’s the same for us—our destiny without Christ [or] our destiny as a son or daughter of the King—it’s such a beautiful thing. I mean, your movie portrays that in such a powerful way. I’m hoping people see it, and they become advocates for adoption and for life.
Ann: —for life.
Dave: I’m sure that is your hope as well.
Stephen: Well, and in Lifemark—as you remember, when you saw it—there are those scenes where Kirk Cameron, the adoptive father, turns to his son; and he says, “God gave you to me and Mom as a gift, and you will always be our son.” He is saying that, as an adoptive father to his son, who is about to go meet his biological mom. He knew that, inside of his heart and mind, there would be all those mix of emotions as to: “Who am I?”
There are a lot of adopted kids who—they don’t treasure their adoption; they don’t realize how priceless and precious this gift is—that, yes, their adoptive parents are their parents now. We tell our daughter—and we’ve said it all along, from the beginning—that she is a gift from the Lord. God wanted her to be in our family—we chose her; we love her—and that her future is bright and hopeful. We always present adoption in a positive, wonderful light: this is something super special about her life that God chose for her, to not only be born, but He chose for her to grow up in our family. We know God has great plans for her.
I think the body of Christ, for such a time as this, needs to get a bigger heart for adoption; because so many people have said, “Hey, the end game is to overturn Roe v. Wade,”—in no way—in God’s big picture, overturning Roe v. Wade is like a touchdown in a big, long journey. We have to view it as discipleship at every level:
- We want to show compassion for these young girls, who are in these unwanted pregnancies, and disciple them to faith in Christ; because as you know, even if they put this baby up for adoption, they may be back pregnant a few months from now unless somebody reaches them with the truth of the gospel, and God begins to turn their hearts towards their heavenly Father in Christ, rather than trying to find love in a passing whim or a passing experience.
- But the church also needs to show compassion for the unborn.
- And they need to show compassion for these parents, who can’t have biological children.
- And they need to show compassion for the children in the foster care community, who are around them.
I think that Lifemark can be used as a tool to, not only reach the head with a true story, but reach the heart with inspiration. Hopefully, God can use it like a weapon in this journey that we are on to overcome evil with good.
Dave: I’m guessing your dream/your vision is, even as people sit in a theater or, like we did, sit on a couch and watch it when it has been released after the theater, that God will speak to them.
Dave: We’ve already talked about God moving; but God would speak and say, “I’m calling you.” Is that part of your dream?
Stephen: Absolutely; our prayer is that, not only do we commit a project to the Lord, but that the Holy Spirit speaks to people’s hearts while they watch it, because God knows exactly what each person in every theater seat needs to hear. God can speak to them about something totally unrelated to adoption, and abortion, or life, or any of these things; and He can touch their life about their need for Him, about their need to be courageous with the decisions that are being placed in front of them, about going home and loving their bio kids that they’ve got at home and spending more time with them.
We are asking that the Lord’s hand of favor and blessing be upon every project that we do so that people—yes, they are entertained; and yes, they are inspired—but that they have an encounter with the Lord and that they walk out of the theater—or they might be looking at it on their cell phone on an airplane, watching one of these films—and God can touch their heart and forever change their life.
Ann: That is so interesting because, as I hear you say that, I go through each of your movies—sorry, big fan! I’ve seen all of them—and that has happened every time. There has been a moment—I can kind of see those visions in my head of even the War Room—how she is praying over her home, and taking back her home and her marriage for Jesus, and to stand on the foundation of Christ.
Dave: And Ann is not going to tell you this; but I have watched her do it on our back deck, screaming out,—[Laughter]—
Dave: —which is awesome.
Stephen: Go, Ann!
Dave: The vision was from seeing it on the theater screen, saying, “We can do that, and we need to do that.” The same thing can happen with this movie.
Ann: It’s the power of a story—it’s the power of visual—that the Holy Spirit uses in our own lives to really speak to us and move us into action.
Alex: Isn’t it interesting that you and I often will have trouble clearly remembering a sermon that we heard a month ago; but we will remember a motion picture that we saw ten years ago.
Alex: That’s why these pictorial, emotional stories can carry so much weight in people’s lives. I hope this movie, which is based on a true story—when people see it, it will grab their heart and instill in them the beauty of life/the beauty of adoption—and that will influence our culture, if not our leaders, when they are making laws. Again, it is not just about our individual rights; it’s also about the preciousness of life existing.
Dave: Well, thank you for what you guys do.
Dave: It’s more than a ministry. You know this—it’s a calling that is impacting the world—not just the Christian community but the world; and we are just beneficiaries of that. So thank you.
I don’t know if you want to give us a heads up of what is coming next. Have you got plans for the next movie, or do you not want to let anybody know?
Alex: Well, we have this couple—this dynamic couple—he is bald-headed; she is this pretty blonde lady. [Laughter] They are spies at night, and they help our government. During the daytime, they are just talk show hosts.
Stephen: Yes, they just pretend to be family-friendly talk show hosts.
Dave: How did they find out we were spies?
Ann: I don’t know.
Dave: That was undercover.
I think you should do a movie on the saga of the Detroit Lions’ chaplain for 33 seasons, being the losing-est chaplain in the history of the NFL. I think there is a movie there.
Alex: Wow; wow.
Stephen: But you know what? In heaven—all the impact for the kingdom—God may say, “You were the winningest chaplain—
Ann: Oh! There it is.
Stephen: —“because the fruit remained,” which was God’s real goal in the situation.
Dave: There you go, man. I like how you are thinking. Our producer Jim just said, “Somehow, Wilson got football in an interview again.” [Laughter] That’s what he just said.
Dave: I guarantee it; that’s what he said.
Ann: Guys, thanks so much.
Stephen: You heard me say a minute ago: “The Roe v. Wade decision is just a touchdown in the big scheme of things.”
Dave: I know! I know! I almost jumped in there, and said, “Yes, I like that analogy.” [Laughter] Thanks, guys.
Alex: God bless you guys. It’s good to talk to you.
Ann: You too.
Dave: You guys are the best.
Stephen: Thank ya’ll so much.
Shelby: You’ve been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Stephen and Alex Kendrick on FamilyLife Today. The Lifemark movie launch happens tomorrow, actually. You can find a theater near you by going to FamilyLifeToday.com or checking it out in the show notes.
There are so many options today for birth control, but are those options even biblical? Well, tomorrow, on FamilyLife Today, Wayne Grudem joins Dave and Ann to talk about just that.
On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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