When I found out that Courageous the movie was going to be released in cinemas across Australia I was so excited. I had read the reviews and the testimonies from people who had seen this movie from Sherwood Pictures, the makers of Fireproof and other movies of integrity such as Facing the Giants and Flywheel. Courageous they were saying was even better and it addressed a vital issue that affects society - fatherhood. Stories of men crying throughout the movie, of fathers signing into rehab after seeing it, of fractured families beginning journeys of healing and restoration and multitudes of fathers saying they had been challenged to be more than 'just good enough' fathers and were ready to step up to the mark and be the fathers that God intended them to be.
Alas, when screening locations were released, it appeared that Courageous would only be shown in the major cities. But there was a glimmer of hope - an opportunity for those in regional centres to sign up as partners and bring Courageous to their town or city.
My initial thoughts were 'One of the big churches should get behind this' then I heard a voice 'No, you make it happen.' My response was 'Me? You mean me God? I am just one person, a stay at home mother, I live in a small town, I attend a small church - how can I possibly make it happen?' This dialogue continued as I tried to think of excuses - too busy, too little time but in the midst of my self-doubt was this assurance that my church would get behind it and I would have the full support of my husband. So I filled in the online form to register our interest and contacted my Pastor who said 'Let's make it happen!'
It was at this time that I also opened up my Bible to the book of Jeremiah and read what happens when fathers lack courage in a time of peril when things come against them.
'At the noise of the stamping hooves of his strong horses,
At the rushing of his chariots
At the rumbling of his wheels,
The fathers will not look back for their children,
It was then I knew I should commit myself to this. This film was going to encourage men to be courageous fathers, men of honour and integrity who would serve and protect their families. I couldn't think of a more noble cause.
And before I knew what was really happening it was happening. A local cinema had agreed to screen it. The theatre was booked and we had a date and a time. I began the promotions, showing the trailer at church, telling people about it, having flyers put up in different places across town. Selling tickets. Emailing and calling pastors, churches and men 's support groups, keeping in regular contact with the Christian media company that was bringing it to Australia. It has been a very busy few weeks for me but it was worth all the effort!
And this week it all came together - Courageous came to small town Australia. People of all ages filled the foyer and as I sat near the door selling more tickets I was aware of just how many men were walking inside. There were friends and people I knew from different churches and locals from our own community. I knew some had been invited by family and friends and others had perhaps just turned up after picking up the flyers in town.
This was a Monday night, traditionally a very quiet night for movie theatres but it was packed with people. I think the cinema staff were rather surprised as they looked upon their crowded foyer filled with people of all ages. As I sat at the door waiting for those who had not yet arrived and to sell last minute tickets I was aware that the movie had started and I was missing the opening dramatic scene!
Courageous was everything I had read about and hoped it would be and so much more. It entertained, it provided drama and suspense, it made people laugh out loud and it made them cry. I don't think I have ever been to a movie and seen men wiping away tears from their eyes before. It was affecting some more deeply than they ever expected as it tackled the subject of fatherhood head on but with incredible sensitivity. Each character had a story that I knew men in our theatre were going to identify with. I have since discovered that quite a number of those men that turned up were part of a group that offers support and hope to separated fathers. It is early days and I do not know if or how they were impacted by Courageous but my prayer is that all the fathers present were encouraged by a movie that boldly with great conviction reinforced the vital role that fathers play in the lives of their children. Without the presence of a father in his life a boy may turn to others for approval and acceptance and this was portrayed in Courageous as a young man is initiated into a gang and begins his apprenticeship into a life of crime.
It only seems like yesterday that he was building sandcastles with his dad.
Fathers were challenged to step up to the mark and that pivotal remark 'I don't just want to be a good enough father' has resounded with fathers around the world who have seen Courageous. I can't help feeling that even the fathers who are present in the home, who have a stable family life and desire to be good and Godly fathers and providers were challenged to invest into the lives of their children, to spend time with their children and to see the world through their eyes and never have cause for regret. If you ever see a father dancing with his daughter in a park or public space in the next few months you can pretty much guarantee that he saw Courageous!
And for me as a wife, Courageous inspired me to do my very best to help my husband in his resolve to be more than a 'just good enough' father. To appreciate him more for all that he is and all that he does as he leads and provides for our family. To work at home to create an atmosphere that is free from stress and tension and to encourage him greatly as he does the most important job he will ever do and one he will someday give account to God for - what a responsibility it is to be a father!
I don't want my husband to live with regret and neither do I. I was at the park yesterday waiting for my son to finish his tennis lesson. I had just picked up a new book from the library, one that I had on reserve for months which finally came in. I was eager to begin reading it and had just started reading the first few pages when my twin daughters called out from the swings. 'Come and push us mum'. I went across but still had the book in my hand. 'Please push us with two hands' one girl pleaded. 'I want to go higher.' I thought of the scenes from Courageous and let go of my book. Apologies to Bear Grylls for dropping your face to the ground (I know you can handle it!) but I'll have to find some other time to begin reading your autobiography which I know is going to be awesome but right there and then a little girl wanted to swing higher and needed my help to do it.
And that is exactly what Courageous will help you do. To go higher. Parenting is so much more than provision of material needs. If you have not yet seen it on the big screen I would encourage you to go. It is still to show in a few regional places in Australia and is being extended in New Zealand and going to some regional centres there. If you are blessed to live in one of these places don't miss your opportunity to see on the big screen one of the most powerful movies you might ever see. Invite the men in your life, the fathers and the sons, the mothers too and the daughters. Dare to be a little courageous and tell others about it - the ones you think might not be prepared to go to a 'Christian' movie. As one person was heard to say as they left our theatre. 'That was not what I was expecting. It was a Christian movie but it was good!'
One more lesson I learned from my Courageous experience is this - it takes just one person and sometimes God asks you to step out of your comfort zone and do big things. It was a small film company with a small budget and a big vision that made this movie and it was a small church that got behind it here and brought it to a small cinema in a small Australian town. God cares just as much about those small country towns as He does about the big cities. As I told our church ' How blessed are we? It is not showing in New York but it is showing here!'
And if you have never heard of Courageous - here's the trailer for you to watch.
Courageous will also benefit those beyond our shores who have been left fatherless through death and abandonment. For our church this was also a fundraiser and some of the proceeds from ticket sales will be going towards a mini bus for the orphanage in Thailand that we have supported for many years. We are almost at our target and very soon the orphanage will have its own bus which will be such an asset as they also deliver food and minister in the slum areas and nearby leper village.
Have you seen Courageous? How did it impact the men in your life? And how is it being lived out in your home, church and community?