Changed Lives: Miracles of 'The
By Chris Carpenter
CBN.com - ANAHEIM, California
-- According to a Barna Group research survey conducted last summer,
10 percent of the viewers who saw the movie “The Passion
of the Christ” said that the film inspired them to change
at least one aspect of their faith. Conversely, less than 0.1
percent said the movie led them to accept Jesus Christ as their
For all the talk that “The Passion of the Christ”
was not a movie but a cultural phenomenon came these sobering
statistics. Numbers don’t lie but can certainly be manipulated
and molded into whatever one wants them to say.
One crucial aspect and perhaps the most telling one, is that
the startling Barna survey does not place a human face upon the
research. Yes, just 10 percent changed some aspect of their religion
and only one tenth of one percent accepted Jesus Christ as their
personal savior due to the movie. But just how many people does
that translate to? Crude math tells me that 0.1 percent could
represent upwards of 750,000 to one million people who accepted
Christ as a direct result of seeing “The Passion of the
Award winning producer and documentary filmmaker Jody Eldred
has successfully spearheaded a project designed to explore the
powerful impact of Mel Gibson’s cinematic labor of love.
Eldred has written a book,
“Changed Lives: Miracles of 'The Passion'” (Harvest
House), that is based on his documentary film of the same name.
Each project’s sole intention is to highlight those people
whose lives were remarkably changed after experiencing the power
of “The Passion”.
At first glance, “Changed Lives” is a book from a
documentary that is based on a major motion picture. But the book
is so much more than a carbon copy rendering of what transpired
on screen. Each story Eldred shares in the 169 page work is supplemented
by his valuable commentary as well as various everyday people
who weighed in with their thoughts via the Internet after watching
At its core, “Changed Lives” is designed to be a
book about miracles. Many skeptics question the potential for
a movie such as “The Passion of the Christ” to even
have the ability to perform miracles. Eldred agrees.
“Nothing can create a miracle except for God,” said
Eldred, in a recent interview with CBN.com. “He is the creator
of miracles. Just like someone who prays for healing for another
person, they are not doing the healing. God is doing the healing.
They are just the instrument. Likewise, the movie “The Passion
of the Christ” is a vehicle for miracles. It is a mechanism
that God is using to touch peoples lives, to change peoples lives.”
Serving as the book’s centerpiece is the amazing story
of a young man who confessed to his girlfriend’s murder
as a result of seeing “The Passion of the Christ”.
Dan Leach had been carrying the enormous guilt of snuffing out
another human life for several months. But he likely would never
have been caught as the local authorities had all but ruled his
girlfriend's death a suicide. After seeing the movie, Leach had
a life changing encounter with God. The movie resonated something
within him as he watched the thief who was suffering on the Cross
beside Jesus. Dan was riveted as he watched Jesus say to the thief
that despite all of the sins he had committed, because he believed,
he would soon be with Jesus in paradise. Dan Leach wanted that.
He too wanted to be with Jesus in paradise despite the horrendous
sins he had committed. He asked God to change him. On August 13,
2004, Leach was sentenced to 75 years in prison. However, the
almighty power of God, using “The Passion of the Christ”,
has changed his life forever.
There are many other stories in “Changed Lives” that
are just as powerful. Eldred was particularly moved by a story
of several women in a Florida penitentiary who saw “The
Passion of the Christ” during Easter weekend last year.
Once again, lives that were thought to be broken and beyond repair
were restored by the almighty hand of God reaching out to them
through a movie.
“Just to see what has happened in these cold women’s
lives, and when I say cold women’s lives I mean that they
have made bad choices,” explained Eldred, who collected
more than 70,000 stories of miracles that came from “The
Passion”. “These women are murderers, robbers, and
people with evil in their hearts. But they are people who Jesus
died for. They are people just like me and you. They are in such
terrible circumstances of their own making and to see them being
able to have freedom even behind prison bars is just absolutely
astounding. If God can do that He can do anything.”
From a personal standpoint, Eldred believes the process of shepherding
a documentary and book project (both projects consumed just five
weeks) based on such incredible acts of God changed him just as
much as those he featured in “Changed Lives”. Despite
spiritual warfare that pounded at his door each and every day,
Eldred acquired a new sense of urgency in his faith through it
“I became really a lot more desperate for God,” shared
Eldred. “Jackson Senyonga, a very famous African pastor
has talked about a large problem in America. He says that we are
not desperate for God. The church in Africa is growing so much
because they are so desperate for God. We are not. I just really
took that to heart. I decided that I want to be desperate for
Him, like a man who is dying and He is the only one I can appeal
to. This new way of living my faith has been just great …
just to see His hand in my everyday. It took this project to help
me realize this.”
I recommend this book for several reasons. First, as I have already
mentioned earlier, Eldred places a human face on all the hype
we have been hearing about in regard to “The Passion”
for the last year. There has been much written and pontificated
regarding the film’s impact or lack thereof during the recently
concluded “Oscar Season”, most of it negative. Eldred
provides readers with the real story -- remarkable, living testimonies
that are refreshing to read. Secondly, I appreciate Eldred’s
no-nonsense approach to storytelling. He does not get caught up
in complex theology. Instead, he provides readers with the basic
principles of the Gospel message while wrapping it around very
real stories involving very real people. And finally, it is clear
Eldred has not written this book for money or a desire to be loved
by readers. He has written “Changed
Lives” for one reason: to have God use him as a vehicle
to do what his book title says … change lives.
me what you think
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