By Walter L. Johnson II
Amid an age and culture where American families struggling to stay together in challenging times, a film that was produced in Albany made its debut in movie theaters nationwide Friday.
Courageous, which was produced by the Albany-based Sherwood Pictures, will be the fourth film released by the ministry, which is affiliated with Sherwood Baptist Church. It’s expected to be shown in around 1,200 theaters in 49 out of the 50 states throughout the U.S.
The other films produced by Sherwood Pictures are Flywheel (2003), Facing the Giants (2006), and Fireproof (2008).
Like the three previous movies before it, Courageous deals with the challenges of building strong families, marriages and parenthood included. The film focuses on the lives of four Dougherty County sheriff’s deputies who come together under tragic circumstances. Together, they use that tragedy to commit themselves to being Godly husbands and fathers.
Nancy Lovell, who is a principal partner with the Dallas, Tex.-based public relations firm Lovell-Fairchild Communications, believes the decision to portray police officers in Courageous parallels their role as protectors not only for families, but for society as a whole.
“An officer’s duty, like a father’s,” Lovell said, “is to serve and protect. Police are the metaphor.
Alex Kendrick, who serves as an associate pastor at Sherwood, says that men must re-establish their roles as leaders in the family.
“We believe God is calling men to rise to leadership in their homes, to serve and protect their families and their children,” Kendrick said. “And we’re honored that God has allowed us to be a part of that call.”
Lovell thinks the timing of Courageous is right on target.
“The U.S. Census Bureau says 1 in 3 kids (24 million) live apart from their biological dads—and we’re telling men with children that no kid needs perfection,” Lovell said. “Every kid needs a dad.”
Statistics show that not having a father at home can have devastating consequences as well, Lovell added.
“Kids who grow up without their dads, on average, are two or three times more likely to be poor, use drugs, suffer in school, and have health and behavior problems,” she said.
“Unlike kids living with married, biological (or adoptive ) parents, boys and girls minus dads are more likely to be victims of child abuse and to show criminal behavior.”
Having a positive male role model while growing up also provided the foundation for his role of being a husband and father, Kendrick added.
“My brothers and I grew up with a father who has modeled for us what it means to be a man of God, to love his family and to be a chain-breaker: the one who says, ‘No matter what came before in my family history, I will be the husband and father God calls me to be.”
Lovell says that Courageous should serve as an opportunity to see fatherhood as an adventure instead of a burden.
“This movie calls men to the adventure of fatherhood—and is great for men to see with men—and to talk about afterwards over coffee,” Lovell said.