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A 'Strange and Wonderful' Miracle: How Burmese Refugees Helped Save a Struggling Church

A 'Strange and Wonderful' Miracle: How Burmese Refugees Helped Save a Struggling Church Read Transcript

EFREM GRAHAM: Michael Spurlock walked away from a business

career to become an Episcopal priest more than 10 years ago,

and it's been quite the journey.

You go from paper salesman to preacher,

and your first job as a pastor is to shut down a church.

That's what it became.

What are you thinking when you take that job?

That that's where God intended for me to be.

Dear friends in Christ, the Reverend Michael Spurlock.

EFREM GRAHAM: His time as pastor is the focus

of the film "All Saints."

As Father Michael prepares to shut down the church,

persecuted Christians from Burma show up looking for help.

We have welfare, but many new family

sleep on floor, not enough food for their children.

Well, maybe one of the bigger churches might be able to--

Now, we-- we are Anglican.

I didn't know Korea had many--

Korean from Burma.

We were occupied by the British.

We learn about Jesus Christ from the British.

The Anglicans?


We are Anglican church, Episcopalian.

Well, here's the thing, Ye Win.

All Saints is broke.

We're-- we're closing the church.

We're broke.

What is "broke?"

EFREM GRAHAM: When Ye Win and refugees show up

at the church seeking shelter and help,

and you're in the process of shutting down the church,

what was it that made you open the door and do this?


I don't see how we could honestly claim

the title of Christian and done anything differently.

My faith in Jesus, my love of Jesus

just tells me there's only one answer.

In this process of beginning the close down,

you feel God speaks to you.

Am I correct in saying that?

He did speak to me.

What did he say?

It was really the 11th hour, when

we thought we had an offer on the church

and were going to have to accept it,

that I took a walk out on the fields behind the church.

And God said, Michael, I have given you farm land

and I have sent 65 expert farmers

from the other side of the world.

You're supposed to start a farm here.

That's your future.

As clear as that.

As clear as that.

So corn here, tomato here, squash and a sour leaf.

Seed from Burma.


Good thing you didn't land in Brooklyn.

Cause, you know, Brooklyn does--

hey, let's get started.

It's up.

It's up.

All Saints Church sits on 22 acres of land,

17 of it just like this-- farm rich, perfectly flat.

In many ways, it not only produced food,

it gave this church new life.

As that miracle gets shared with the rest of the world,

we watch as the film's stars join the real-life heroes

for the hometown screening.

It's strange and it's wonderful.

And because it's strange and wonderful,

it seems to fit perfectly with this place,

because this is a strange and wonderful place.

Consider the mustard seed, the smallest of all seeds.

Yet it grows such big branches that the birds

perch in its shade.

EFREM GRAHAM: John Corbett plays the role

of Father Spurlock in the film.

What was it about his life that you

felt you wanted to project on the screen,

that you wanted to deliver, to make sure people felt?

We have a kind of similar outlook

on life, which is I'm now at this stage

where I'm kind of bored with what

I've been doing for 30 years.

I realize I don't know how many Summers do I have left.

I'm 56.

I wonder, I have 20 summers left, good summers.

And a lot of my time is spent thinking,

what do I really want to do with those summers?

Is it to go to another movie set and say someone else's lines,

and wear someone else's clothes for six weeks?

Get the paycheck and then go home and wait for the phone

to ring to do it again?

Or do I want to really shake things up and sell the house,

and move somewhere, and kind of start over?

That's what he did.

He, midstream, just jumped out of the boat and said,

you know, I'm done with this life.

Now I want to have a life of service and in the church.

And I just really admire that, that he did that.

EFREM GRAHAM: Comedienne Shonda Pierce

once lived near the church, and happily returned to Smyrna

as a feisty church member.

Look at Ms. Delphia's hair.

You could raise sparrows in there.

She's mean as all heck, and I can tell you exactly the women

I was thinking of.

Please share, please share.

So you know these women?

I know these women.

You know, I grew up in the church,

and so I tell people all the time, I've seen the good, bad,

and the ugly.

And my part in this movie is one of the uglies.

Ruth was not a horrible person, but she really

represents a majority of folks out there that

have a struggle with change.

And that's-- that's something that rings true in the church

world in a lot of areas.

And yet, at the same time, she reminds

me a lot of church folks.

They get completely off focus of what the Church is all about.

And that's why I love the story.

EFREM GRAHAM: Father Spurlock sees this as a story

only God could have written.

I've heard you say that you made some mistakes even

in that journey of doing this.

What were some of the mistakes?

Well, a lot of farming mistakes, not being a farmer

or knowing anything about farming.

But you know, God got Noah to build a boat.

EFREM GRAHAM: Yes, he did.

And can you imagine the patience

it must require to watch a farmer become a ship builder?

So God called a priest to be a farmer,

and yet he had to have known this was not

going to go smoothly.

EFREM GRAHAM: Even with a few bumps on the road,

the harvest is getting richer at All Saints, with its $850,000

mortgage paid in full, and the church doors

are still open for business.

Efrem Graham, CBN News, Smyrna, Tennessee.


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