Sherwood: Inspiring Fathers to be 'Courageous'

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ALBANY, Ga. - Sherwood Pictures, the group responsible for the popular faith-based films "Facing the Giants" and "Fireproof," is preparing to release what they hope will be their next box office hit.

The latest faith-based flick, called "Courageous," follows four police officers who face dangers on the job everyday, but have a lot to learn about what it means to be heroes at home. CBN News was given a behind-the-scenes look during the making of the film, which will be released in the fall of 2011.

Alex and Stephen Kendrick, who have written, produced, and directed all of Sherwood's movies, say their newest release will highlight the important role fathers play.

"In Scripture, you see fathers helping to establish the identity of their kids. There is this sense of identity that a father is to impart on his children," Stephen said. "So kids grow up and they're asking life's questions: 'Am I loved? Am I okay? What am I supposed to be about?' And dad's are supposed to be answering those questions."

"What we've had, though, is a generation of dads who [didn't] have their fathers modeling godliness in their lives. Even if they wanted to be godly fathers, they don't know what it looks like," he continued. "And so, we want to hold up and show men, here's what it can look like for you to forgive your own dad if he wasn't there for you, for you to see God as your Heavenly Father as the model of fatherhood -- and then for you to win the hearts of your kids and pass on a godly legacy."

Alex said that the theme of fatherhood for the movie came after a year of prayer and seeking God.

"We basically just said,'God, what do you want us to focus on? What is your message? And after a year, He pointed us in the direction of fatherhood and gave us so many themes and information regarding the importance of fathers that is was hard to know where to start," Alex recalled. "So what we ended up doing is having an ensemble cast, where you have multiple fathers coming from different perspectives - they get together and we deal with a lot of things over the course of this two-hour movie."

"Our hope is to inspire men, maybe convict them in some ways, just call them to a higher standard," Alex continued. "We want to remind men that you can't be a casual father. We're supposed to be strategic and purposeful - to love our kids and to train them and teach them to the degree that they're living life from approval not for approval."

Michael Catt, senior pastor at Sherwood Baptist Church, said today's societal ills can be attributed to a lack of strong fathers in the home.

"You want to know why the culture is breaking down, you want to know why girls are having pre-marital sex, you want to know why boys are going into gangs, they're looking for that relationship that they didn't get with a dad," Catt explained. "They're looking for someone to be a father figure in their life because they're missing that."

Kevin Downes, who plays one of the cops in "Courageous," said the fatherhood theme hits close to home for him.

"Being a new dad, I was immediately inspired to just want to be a better father in my home, and I realized it's never too early to start to have an impact on your children," he said. "My little boys that are one and two, they start to mimic me already, and so it's such an important reminder that the time to start is now."

Sherwood Baptist Church member Ken Bevil, who starred in "Fireproof," is also in "Courageous."

In the new movie, Bevil said is character's role, "wants to be a good father (and) just doesn't know how."

"So every mentor, every opportunity he sees to grow as a father, he's trying to take it," Bevil explained.

Pastor Daniel Simmons of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Albany, Ga., plays his mentor in the movie.

"We all need a father, regardless of color, regardless of background, we all need love and that's what this movie is about -- fatherhood, love, and caring," he said.

With a $1 million budget - twice that of "Fireproof" - the church was able to hire several professional Christian actors, including 20-year-old Ben Davies, who plays a young officer with a secret.

"(There are) a lot of emotional things that I get to do which is fun," Davies said about his first big screen role. "And even more fun is the action stuff I get to do because I'm the young rookie. So, I think it'll be a really fun character to watch and that's what I'm praying for."

Real life father and son team Rusty Martin, Sr. and Rusty Martin, Jr., who both play a part in "Courageous," agree that their roles have contributed to their own father-son bonding moments.

"We like to do things together, so this has been a blast," Martin Sr. said.

Wives also have important roles in this film.

"With every good man, there's a good woman," actress Angie Nelson said. "God does not give a man his journey to be alone. Women are an essential part of a family."

"It is amazing," actress Renee Jewell. "I'm just a stay at home mom with three kids. So if you had asked me at any point in time that I would be in a movie of this magnitude, I would have just thought you were crazy."

The good thing is, it shows us to be very devoted, very strong, a huge part of the family," she said. "Part of my character, is I am sort of the glue that holds everything together."

And as with all Sherwood movies, Catt said it's not about box office success - but about changing lives.

"My hope is that when people walk out of the movie theater, they'll understand, it's not how much money you have, it's not the car you drive, the house you live in, it's not your boat, not your handicap on the golf course, not how much is in your 401K," he explained. "But when you're laying in a casket one day, will it be said of you, my kids loved me and my wife adored me and that ball is in my court."

*Originally published June 17, 2010

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