“Overcomer” is a production of Affirm Films, the faith division of Sony Pictures World Wide Acquisitions and is produced by Stephen Kendrick and Aaron Burns and is directed by Alex Kendrick.

In 1999, Kendrick became associate pastor of media at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga. He took his brother’s sermons and made them into movies.

“The Lord gave Alex story lines, while at the same time, He gave me scriptures about that same topic,” said Stephen. “So, the Lord gives him the ‘Fireproof’ story line while I’m studying marriage, covenant, and love; the Lord gives him the ‘Courageous’ story line, while I’m studying fatherhood at the time. When I was leading the prayer ministry at the church, the Lord gave Alex ‘War Room,’ and so, we’re working together.”

“Flywheel,” their first movie featuring a used car salesman, came about after church goers donated $20,000 and volunteered their time and talent. The Kendrick brothers have since produced six films.

“On ‘Overcomer,’ I’ve been studying Ephesians 1 and 2 for the past few years,” said Stephen. “Then the Lord gave Alex the story line about identity.” Two years in the making, the project is all about what it means to have an identity in Jesus Christ. “The more we understand what it means to have our identity in Christ, the richer our relationship with Him becomes,” said Stephen at a recent showing of the film. “When you know who you are, it settles a lot of other things.”

Personal impact

“There’s quite a bit that I actually drew on,” said Cameron Arnett (“Meet the Browns,” “Stand Your Ground,” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation”) who plays an amazing supporting role in “Overcomer.” “My father, who is now deceased, wasn’t there for me in my young age.” The Haitian–born actor continued, “I had to chase him down, which is the opposite of what happens to my character in the movie.

“When I finally got to my dad, the reception wasn’t exactly what I had wanted. So, I pulled back from him. But then, he died. So, in that process, I realized that I had that opportunity to get to know him when the Holy Spirit was speaking to me, but I wasn’t listening.

“Today, I tell young people that regardless of what’s going on or how painful it may feel right now, make sure you keep your relationships intact. I keep a special bond with my mother. I make sure we have that connection.”

A tool to reach souls

Stephen Kendrick said, “We try to include the gospel in all of our movies because we know that non–believers are going to see them. We want to make every movie a tool that the church can use to reach their communities and neighbors and friends for Christ. We’ve seen thousands of people come to Christ through the films.

“Secondly, we hope you will enjoy and be impacted by the emotional journey, and that the Holy Spirit will speak to your heart while you’re watching the movie. We’ve prayed, ‘Lord, will you put Your hand on this so that, regardless of where people are in their journey, the Holy Spirit will speak to their hearts?’

“I think that at this time, people desperately need to discover who they are in Christ. We’re facing harder and harder opposition; we’re being attacked at every level. Regardless of what’s happening in our culture, we need to come back and say, ‘I know that I am my heavenly father’s beloved child. I’m adopted, and chosen, and forgiven, and sealed, and equipped, and empowered—by His Holy Spirit.’”

by Warren L. Maye

Original Article

MyPillow founder Mike Lindell was once so addicted to crack cocaine that his three drug dealers ran an intervention and refused to sell to him.

“I went up and down the streets of Minneapolis and couldn’t buy anywhere,” Lindell recalls. “I had been up for 14 straight days.

“One of my dealers said to me, ‘You’ve been telling us MyPillow is just a platform for a much bigger purpose for God and that you were going to come back and help us all someday when you quit. Well, we’re not going to let you die on us.’”

Lindell didn’t die and eventually pulled his life together after dedicating it to Christ. Today, he runs one of the world’s most successful companies and is a self–made millionaire who helps former addicts like himself. He believes The Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Centers (ARCs) are a model for the world in battling addiction (see A Model for the World below).

Lindell’s own battle began in 1982. He used cocaine then, but by the late 1990s, he was into crack.

“I was a cocaine addict, a very functioning addict, for 20 years,” Lindell says.

Lindell, whose parents divorced when he was seven, developed a “spirit of rejection” and “unworthiness.”

“I was shy and wouldn’t talk to people,” he said. “That followed me throughout my life. You can’t get rejected if you don’t talk to people. My addiction masked my rejection and feeling unworthy.”

Lindell would later develop a popular infomercial for his famous MyPillow. However, the producer of his first campaign texted someone and predicted it was going to be a disaster.

Overcoming the past

“I couldn’t talk,” Lindell said. “I was very shy. Even when I was on drugs, I couldn’t talk to people. I lived in Las Vegas for two months and never met a soul.

“I couldn’t talk to anyone. When I owned a bar, my worst nightmare was that somebody would come in while no one else was in there and I would be sober. When that happened, I would just wait on them and say, ‘Let me know if you need anything else.’ I think a lot of addicts have that fear of rejection. Addictions mask pains. They also mask inner fears.”

Lindell developed MyPillow in the early 2000s and had communicated well enough to make the company somewhat of a success, but his drug problems persisted.

The year 2008 was the beginning of his turnaround. The intervention by his drug dealers occurred in the spring. In December, a friend and former crack partner announced that he had found Christ and had been clean for three years.

“I could relate to him,” Lindell said. “I had all kinds of questions for him. That relationship planted a bunch more seeds.”

However, Lindell knew the window was rapidly closing if he wanted to take the company to the next level. On January 16, 2009, he said a prayer.

“I said, ‘God, I want to wake up in the morning and never have the desire again for crack, for cocaine, for alcohol, for anything.’ It wasn’t a complete surrender. It was more of a transformation,” Lindell says. “I woke up the next morning and thought I was going to have the weight of the world on my shoulders, which was why I was addicted in the first place, but it was a peaceful feeling and all the desires were gone.”

Two months later, Lindell went to an outpatient clinic and told his counselor of his plans for a book and to use MyPillow as a platform for God. The counselor went home and told his wife, “I think [Lindell is] still on drugs.”

“Everything I told him that day has come to fruition,” Lindell says.

Lindell’s self–published book, What are the Odds? comes out this year.

It’s a relationship

Lindell says his girlfriend, Kendra, whom he met in 2014, changed his life by challenging him to have a personal relationship with Christ.

“I would say, ‘Well, I believe in God.’ But it was different with her,” Lindell says. “I was watching her, and I said, ‘Wow, I want what she has.’ I didn’t have that relationship with Jesus that she did.”

In 2017, Lindell attended a spiritual retreat where he found that relationship.

“I went in there with the hope I would get what Kendra had, this relationship with Jesus,” Lindell said. “I totally surrendered. It was the most amazing thing for me. Since that time, I can now talk about Jesus Christ in the same way I used to talk about a pillow. I talk about it with the same passion.”

Kendra also urged Lindell to remain in prayer and study his Bible. Then he began to see miracles.

When MyPillow needed $30,000 to stay afloat, he miraculously found last-minute investors.

When he needed $300,000 to film his first infomercial, he, his family, and friends cobbled together the money.

“I used to only pray when I was in trouble or for God to get me out of this situation or that,” Lindell says. “Now, I am proactive in my prayers, I’m staying in the Word, praying, having the Holy Spirit, and being led by Him.

“Every day I’m reading the Bible and journaling and praying. I’m in prayer groups. During the day, any decisions I make, I pray about them at MyPillow.”

When you see Lindell on one of his late–night infomercials, you can’t help but notice the large cross around his neck.

Crack house to White House

In 2016, Lindell attended the National Prayer Breakfast and was picked to pray with Dr. Ben Carson, then a candidate for president.

That same year, Lindell had a dream he was in the same room with Donald Trump, as president. Soon, Lindell received an invitation to visit Trump Tower to talk about MyPillow. A year later, Lindell received another invitation, this time to the White House’s “Made in America” summit. Trump, now president, requested that Lindell sit next to him.

“All of my friends who have quit crack said, ‘This has to be a miracle. This has to be Jesus. There’s no way this crack addict from Minnesota could be sitting in the White House next to the president.’ For me, these miracles kept happening,” Lindell said.

Last year, Lindell was invited to Pulse, an event for young Christians at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. He led 50,000 people in prayer.

“That wasn’t me,” Lindell says. “That was all Jesus.

“It’s one thing to go to church or to pray when things are bad, but to have that relationship with Jesus, that’s where it’s at. That’s what changes everything.”

by Robert Mitchell

A Model for the World

Mike Lindell has donated thousands of his MyPillow creations to bell–ringers and homeless clients of The Salvation Army in Minneapolis, Minn., which he calls home.

Lindell, a former drug addict who formed the Lindell Foundation and the Lindell Recovery Network, is a strong believer in the Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Centers (ARCs).

“I heard about all The Salvation Army does with addiction and I was absolutely blown away,” Lindell said. “I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ It’s the most amazing program I’ve ever heard of. They are doing so much that I know would match up with changing this country.

“It was an education and I was excited because a lot of the stuff that works in addiction, The Salvation Army is already doing based on Jesus. I’ve talked to people in the field and done my own due diligence and I think they’re the best in the country.”

Lindell said addicts often come out of traditional treatment centers “with more shame than when you went in,” but the faith-based centers get results and help change lives.

“You get out of those secular places and you’re a ticking time bomb waiting to relapse because you don’t have what I believe The Salvation Army gives a person, and that’s an amazing platform of faith and training in life,” Lindell says. “It’s almost like you’re an apprentice while you’re in there getting your life back together.

“You’re coming out with a foundation and mentors. The Salvation Army’s centers should be the model for every center in the world.”

Lindell is such a believer that he sometimes sends his employees to a Salvation Army ARC. “I can usually tell what drugs they’re on,” he said. “I talk to them directly and we get them help.”

Lindell runs MyPillow more like a ministry than a business. The company doesn’t have a traditional human resources department. All the employees have his direct phone number.

“We do not have traditional human resource problems,” Lindell said. “If there is a deviation in behavior, we get them help. Our employees tell on each other to get help. We basically become a big help center.”

For example, when one employee uncharacteristically started showing up late for work, Lindell quickly found out why.

“He was walking 14 miles to work. So, I bought him a car,” Lindell said.

If employees lose a loved one, they can take as much time as they need to grieve, and Lindell pays them. He also pays when they go to rehab with The Salvation Army or another facility.

Find out more about The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Centers.

Original Article

breakthrough BREAKTHROUGH is based on the incredible true story of one mother’s unfaltering love in the face of impossible odds. When Joyce Smith’s 14-year-old adopted son John falls through an icy Missouri lake, all hope seems lost. But as he lies lifeless, Joyce refuses to give up. Her steadfast belief inspires people around her to pray for John’s recovery—even in the face of every case history and scientific prediction.

From Producer DeVon Franklin (MIRACLES FROM HEAVEN) and executive producers, Pastor Sammy Rodriguez and Stephen “Steph” Curry, and adapted for the screen by Grant Nieporte (SEVEN POUNDS) and from Joyce Smith’s own book, BREAKTHROUGH is an enthralling reminder that faith and love can create a mountain of hope, and sometimes even a miracle.

DeVon Franklin, Pastor Jason Noble, and John Smith recently sat down with The Salvation Army to talk about the movie, their ministries, and building deep relationships through faith in Christ.

John, how did this event influence your relationship with Pastor Jason?

John SmithI actually didn’t know Pastor Jason; we had never formally met. He was new at the church and had only been there for three months. But when the accident happened, he stuck by my family’s side and by my side. There were moments when I knew he was called to mentor me and ever since then, he’s been doing a great job of it. It’s just been a growing brotherhood throughout all of this.

Pastor Jason, what surprised you about this event and the way it has affected your ministry?

Pastor Jason Noble: Afterward, we had 150 healing miracles in our church. God just started us on fire. This crisis has brought families, church members, and communities together. Since last February, we’ve been going full–time on the film.

The movie is absolutely mesmerizing. How does it match what really happened?

John: That person Marcel Ruiz portrayed is what I went through. It was really accurate. From the point of the crisis to everything else, what he portrayed was true.

Pastor Jason: We’re thankful for DeVon. He told us from the beginning that we were going to do the best we can to maintain the integrity of the story and that’s exactly what happened. The timeframe may have been a little different, or in a different context.

The movie shows Joyce and I had a tense relationship, but we really never had an argument. Those were composite characters designed to show what we were facing as a 90-year-old Assemblies of God church with a 39-year-old pastor coming in and trying to change things around. At the end of the movie, a teacher says to John, “My husband died, but you lived. Why?” Some people say, that didn’t happen, but it actually did.

DeVon, your work as a studio executive, Christian author, and now movie producer has most recently included live clips of you praying on social media. How has this influenced your ministry?

DeVon: In the movie, you see Joyce Smith go into that emergency room and she prays and her son, John, comes back to life. She demonstrates the power of prayer. Throughout the whole experience, prayer is an integral part of John’s recovery. We portray that in the film.

So, organically and ironically, as I’ve been praying for people through Instagram, Facebook, and other social media, the response has been unbelievable. Since the beginning of the year, I’ve gained more than 100,000 followers. A lot of it has to do with the power of prayer.

I’m not saying this as a judgment, but so often our prayers are self-centered. So much of social media is “me, me, me” or “selfie, selfie, selfie.” But my prayers are about other people, rather than about me. I think people are deeply moved by that because so few people in their lives are concerned about them, are praying for them, and praying over them. I think that is where I’ve seen the power of prayer and social media come together. It wasn’t intentional. It’s just something that started organically. I’m just so grateful. In many ways, I’m subconsciously inspired by Joyce because she is a praying mother—every time I’m around her, she prays!

John, when you realized that the whole church and community was praying for you, how did you react?

John:I was in awe because, at that time, people were seeing Missouri in two lights; as a destructive light, and as a beacon of hope. The Michael Brown tragedy in Ferguson, Mo., was happening around the same time Breakthrough was taking place. So, they saw the destruction in Ferguson, but they also saw the hope coming from St. Louis. Families came together to pray for me; all of St. Louis came together with open arms, praying for me. From churches to schools to everybody in this community, people were praying for me.

During that time, I was struggling with thoughts like, what if I don’t get all my strength back? What if I’m not 100 percent anymore? But having St. Louis, my church, and my family pray for me and tell me it’s going to be okay, and walk with me through that, made the difference.

If there was anything else you’d want in this movie, what would it be?

John: I think DeVon captured the key points that needed to be told to make this story complete and to make BREAKTHROUGH what it is today—and that’s family. Within the film, you see everybody experience their individual breakthroughs: from my mom to me to Tommy to everyone. I think that’s so important because, if I would have seen heaven, it would have been just about me. But the story is about everybody’s individual story within the story—their own breakthrough. That’s what you see, and I think that’s what’s truly amazing throughout the film.

It’s interesting how in a breakthrough, something or someone has to be broken.

Pastor Jason: That’s the hardest part of it. Everyone wants a miracle, but to get to one is hard. There has to be something you need a miracle for. All the stuff God took Joyce through really happened. A month into my pastorate, we had a long conversation.

What would be your advice to a young pastor coming into a church?

Pastor Jason: I would have more advice for the congregation: give him grace, take time to know him, give him the benefit of the doubt, and give him a clean slate. Churches have many expectations, but the reality is if we don’t replace the pastors who are retiring with young pastors, who do we have? So, back him up 100 percent and give him grace—be his cheerleader!

John, how do you think this event will impact your future?

John: I don’t know my future, but I do know that God has a great plan for my life. He’s brought amazing people into it, from Pastor Jason to Pastor Sammy Rodriguez to President Scott Hagen to DeVon Franklin. He’s brought all of these great mentors into my life. We’ve been building relationships, building a brotherhood, and building a family. They’re going to walk me through this because God has brought me here for a reason.

So, is college your next step?

John: Yes, I’ve met Scott Hagen, president of North Central, a Christian university in downtown Minneapolis, Minn. That’s where I’ll be attending this fall to study to pursue life as a pastor.

DeVon, what do you want people to take away from this film?

DeVon: It releases April 17 all across the world and in time for Easter. We’re excited to see what God wants to do. My hope is that their faith will increase and that they’ll tell people about it. I want them to walk out of the theater saying, “you gotta go see BREAKTHROUGH! It was amazing and here’s why.” We, as producers of the film, have done all we can. It’s on the people now!

by Warren L. Maye

Original Article

Catherine Booth (1829-1890), the co-founder of The Salvation Army, talks about achieving true peace, how our hearts can be made perfect, and what a Christian can learn from one of Napoleon’s soldiers.

None of our hearts are born perfect by nature, but they can be renewed to be made perfect. For this, first, a heart must be loyal to God. It should be thoroughly given to Him, irrespective of consequences. Second, a heart must be obedient. A perfect heart does not pick and choose which commandments to obey. Hearts that do so are partial, not perfect. Third, at the root of all perfect hearts, is trust. Look no further than Abraham to see a heart perfect in its trust. Abraham believed God almost to the blood of his son Isaac, and God showed Himself strong in his behalf.

Our charity must be divine and focused on the soul. Sentiments of pity and acts of generosity towards man is sometimes done all without a spark of divinity in one’s heart. Or worse, it may be simply done to merit one’s own eternal life. Those are examples of nothing but false charity; they begin in self and end on earth. Are we more concerned about relieving temporal distress, in others and in us, than we are about feeding famished souls? Divine charity, such as when Christ fed both the spirit and the hunger of His followers, realizes the value of looking after the soul.

Peace is the universal want of man, but true peace is not simply a state of mere quietness or insensibility. True peace only arises out of a reconciliation with God. Where there is sin, there is conflict and misery. God Himself cannot give peace to a soul holding on to sin. But when one confesses and forsakes their sins and casts their guilty soul on Jesus, then He will give that soul true, divine peace. It will abide forever.

It is said that one of Napoleon’s men, while being operated on for the extraction of a bullet, exclaimed, “Cut a little deeper, and you will find my general’s name.” Napoleon’s name was engraved on that soldier’s heart. As God’s soldiers, the image and glory of Christ must be engraved on our hearts as well. It is what Jesus Christ demands of us. We must be thoroughly committed to His side; there can be no neutrals in spiritual warfare.

Here is great encouragement for those of us who suffer from doubt. Faith, as it is described in the Scriptures, is a voluntary thing. I have known sincere and honest souls whose minds are tormented with doubt, but whose hearts have still inquired about God’s love and truth. I have more sympathy towards them than with those who would profess all and do nothing. God believes in man’s honesty and sincerity. If you are sincere in your heart, He will not abandon you.

Women assume the role of president at prestigious Christian colleges around the country. by Retta Blaney
With a sense that they have been called, and with an appreciation for the groundbreaking role they are assuming, women have been taking over the leadership of Christian colleges and universities in slowly increasing numbers. Religious schools still lag far behind secular institutions in the appointing of female presidents, but the ceiling has been broken in schools across the country that were established in the holiness tradition.
“The idea has been that only one population, gender or ethnicity makes all the decisions,” said Deana L. Porterfield, who in 2014 became the first female president of Roberts Wesleyan College and Northeastern Seminary in Rochester, N.Y. “We’re better when we’re diverse. I do believe it’s what God’s calling us to do. Full representation is important if you really believe all are made in the image of God.”
While being the first woman president is an hono..