Backstory of the Film Script for
“Love in the Face of ISIS”
In 5 years you will look back and say,
“That night was the moment everything changed for me.”
I’ll never forget where I was sitting the night I heard those words.
Gabriel and I had come to a writers conference at Bethel Church in Redding, California, with just one goal in mind–to say “Thank You” to our dear friend Jane (Editorial Director for Chosen Books), who had been instrumental in getting my first book published. “Powerful Moments in the Presence of God” was about to be released in a few months time, and we were so grateful for her help in this miracle journey. Two years earlier, I was introduced to Jane through her workshop at another Bethel’s writers conference, and now our paths would cross once again.
I did enjoy coming back to Bethel, but I wasn’t there to learn. This writers conference was just the vehicle to reconnect with Jane in person.
Much had been taking place in the weeks leading up to seeing Jane again. During another writers conference in Seattle three weeks earlier, God deposited an idea for a new book into my heart as I listened to one of Jane’s colleagues speak about writing and the publishing industry. The morning of the writers conference at Bethel, I received a contract from Chosen Books to write a book of prayer strategies over ISIS and the Middle East. The Lord called it, “Love in the Face of ISIS.”
The date was June 10th, 2015.
It was the one-year anniversary of ISIS overpowering the Iraqi city of Mosul, and the Christians who remained there were publicly mourning their horrific losses.
As I sat through the evening’s keynote presentation by two producers and screenwriters from Hollywood, my mind was consumed by thoughts of how to complete this new assignment in the 12 weeks I’d been given. This topic was given to me by God, and there was so much I needed to learn. I had no interest at all in writing for movies, but I was very happy for those who were being encouraged by the producers’ valuable insights into the entertainment industry.
Especially when the producer said this:
We hope that what we can do for you is special… by the time we’re done, you’re going to see that you can not only do it, but that the Lord will show you favor on how to do it, and He will bring it. We dealt with a guy from Oklahoma… the Lord just dropped this idea on him which will become a movie in the next year, year and a half… and this is a guy who just appeared out of nowhere…
But why is that going to happen to you?
I knew the producer was giving a prophetic word that would be significant for someone’s life. I looked across the room to where the producer was directing his gaze, and thought, “Oh, what a great word for that person… over there!”
The producer went on to explain how you can get a script noticed and put into production: If it sounds like a movie and we’ve never seen it before, you can hook a producer just by the strength of the title alone.
At that moment, Gabriel leaned over and whispered in my ear, “The name of your book is a hook for a movie: Love in the Face of ISIS.”
I realized Gabriel was right. But I had a major dilemma. My book was a book about prayer, not a Hollywood film story. Also, I had no interest in screenwriting—I had a book to write!
I took a moment and threw up a prayer, “Okay, God, if this is supposed to be a movie… then what’s the story?”
BOOM. Immediately, the Lord began to speak to me. He told me that I was going to write this film. It would be based off of two brothers in the Bible—one loved by the father, one cherished by the mother. Immediate conflict in the home…
And as the producers continued to talk, I sat in my seat and “watched” the entire movie play out in my mind from start to finish. The set up. Conflict. The catalyst. Tension. The debate. Inner turmoil. The bad guys close in. Outer pressure. All is lost. No turning back…
From start to finish, I was mesmerized by the story I saw. The framework was in place with the major pieces I would need.
I couldn’t get the story out of my head… and that bothered me, a LOT. I needed to focus on writing my book. I couldn’t afford to be distracted with a screenplay.
God had other plans for me, if I would only say “yes.”
The following evening, I met the producers as they were on their way out. I shared with them the story God gave me. One turned to me and said, “I love it. Every bit of it. This story’s gold. Do you want me to make your movie?”
How could my answer be anything but “yes!”?
The next question was harder to answer. He asked, “Have you ever done anything like this before?”
I hadn’t. I’d never written fiction. I’d never even seen a script.
“No,” I said, “but I know that God is in it. Give me one year from today, and I’ll have a script ready for you.”
In the year that followed, Gabriel and I traveled to Jordan to meet with Iraqi Christian refugees who had to flee their homes when ISIS took over. I finished writing my book. I started reading scripts. I learned how to write a screenplay. I researched the conflict in the Middle East. I met people along the way who shared their stories with me—real, authentic, heart-wrenching. And I began to write.
On June 10th, 2016 I woke up with one goal in mind: to finish the script God had given me to write. It wouldn’t be easy. I still had multiple pages of the script to complete. I needed a miracle finish.
So I prayed, “God, I know you don’t have to say ‘Yes,’ but if you don’t mind, could we please get this script done today?”
By the end of the evening, I watched in amazement as my fingers flew over my keyboard. All I had to do was transcribe the vision God was placing in my mind. I typed the words “FADE OUT” and leaned back in my chair. I began to read the pages that had flowed out that evening, and I was overcome with emotion. The story was beautifully intertwined in ways I had not even known.
It was powerful. It was timely. It was a story that needed to be told.
Thankfully, my producers agreed. They saw the hand of God on this script, too. They’ve been in the entertainment industry over 30 years. They would know.
This movie was not given to me by God solely to entertain or educate Christian audiences. This movie has the power to change lives, as people from all walks of faith who see this film will have encounters with Jesus. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
I hope you will join us to pray for our film as we work to find funding to put the movie into production. We highly value your prayer support. As family in Messiah, we need each other, now more than ever. There are some simple prayer points you can reference on this page.
Thank you so very, very much!