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HPN Wins a Well-Done Award

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News Summary: 

The Beverly Hills-based Hollywood Prayer Network will be honored with a WELL DONE AWARD from the Kingdom Assignment ministry for its commitment to pray for the people in the Hollywood Entertainment Industry — the world’s most influential mission field.

News Story:
In an e-mail to ministry friends and supporters, HPN founder Karen Covell said: “We receive our award on Wednesday, May 30th in Orange County. If any of you would like to join us at the celebration, it’s quite an event and we would be proud to have you with us. Just click on this link and find out more about it.”

The awards ceremony will feature Chris Gardner of “Pursuit of Happyness” fame, and singers Katherine McPhee and Bebe Winans.

Also, says Covell, “For some unknown yet wonderful reason, HPN has been overwhelmed with people checking out our website www.hollywoodprayernetwork.org and sending in requests for our DVD, ‘The Hollywood Tribe’ and our media packets. In fact, we can’t keep up with the requests.”

Such is the demand for the DVD that Covell is asking: “If you live in the LA area and would like to spend a few hours next week volunteering with us in Hollywood, please click REPLY to this email (info@hpnemail.org) and let us know. Thank you so much for being a part of our ministry. Please pray for us to live up to the honor of our upcoming award and to be able to accommodate the needs and requests of our members and those seeking information and prayer. It’s an incredible place to be in. We need your prayers and some volunteers.”

By Michael Ireland, ASSIST News Service

Miracle on the Trail: Finding God in a Crisis

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It was a warm and sunny Sunday afternoon as my friend, Carey*(not her real name) and I guided our horses along our favorite trail in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park. We had been riding together for years, even going on week-long riding vacations to exotic locations.

Today’s ride was particularly important to me. My mother had died two weeks earlier and my mentor had died six weeks before. Still overwhelmed by loss, I needed a day to be out in nature, to heal.

Shortly before 6 p.m. we turned back to the stable and noticed a path we had never seen. It went straight down the hill and would probably save us time. In the middle of the path was a small ditch about two feet wide and three feet deep. We both were experienced riders, so we assessed the path and decided there was room on each side of the ditch to ride safely.

Part way down the path, Carey suggested that we cross over and ride on the other side of the ditch. As she urged her horse across, his hind legs slipped. To my horror, he fell backwards into the ditch, landing upside down on his back, with all four feet in the air and with my friend beneath him.

“Carey!” I cried, jumping down from my horse and running to her, wondering how she could have survived. Only her lower legs were visible. I had no idea what to do. I couldn’t understand how she could have survived this accident. Certainly she must be bearing the entire weight of the horse. But she wasn’t – not totally. Most of his weight was supported by the side of the ditch. Miraculously, Carey was still alive.

Desperately, I tried to figure out what to do. First I tried to pull her out. But I couldn’t budge her or the horse. Carey cried out to me, “I don’t want to die.” It was clear that she was starting to panic. Finally I uttered the most difficult words I’ve ever had to say: “Carey, I have to leave you. I have to go for help.” I expected her to plead with me not to go. Instead, she said, “Yes, you have to go.”

Urging her to start praying, I hurried down the trail – and started praying myself.

I was no newcomer to prayer. My grandfather had been a Lutheran minister. I’d become a Quaker and had a master’s degree and doctorate in theology, I knew that the first thing, and the last thing, that one does in all crises is to pray. I was grateful for my years spent in studying and practicing my religion. I knew there was Someone to turn to in all circumstances – whether soothing hearts wounded by the loss of loved ones, or resolving dangerous situations where loss of a loved one seemed certain.

I began praying for help out loud. I knew that help could be twenty minutes or more away and in that time, Carey could panic, or die. I started praying out loud, “God, please! I need help now!”

About three minutes down the trail I saw a hiker who heard me. She asked, “What’s wrong?” I quickly explained, “We’re going to need help – a lot of it!”

“I left my cellphone in the car,” she said. “You go back to your friend; I’ll call 911!” and she ran down the hill.

When I returned to Cary, I sat near the fallen horse and told Carey I was going to start praying out loud so she could hear me.

I knew that ordinarily in a situation such as this, one would pray for God’s will to be done. Instead, I turned to an idea of prayer that came from one of my favorite Quaker theologians, Douglas Steere. He said pray any way you want, and if the prayer isn’t right, God will change it in the process of praying. I found myself praying boldly. I told God, “You have to save Carey. I don’t care how you do it. You can levitate her, levitate the horse, bring a miracle, bring help. But you must save her. And you must make sure that there will be no on-going injuries.” As I told God what to do, I expected the prayer to be changed. Certainly I had no business demanding such a response from God. But the prayer didn’t change. I almost felt as if God stopped, and listened, and allowed me to continue to pray for a miracle.

At one point, I told God that He couldn’t allow her to die because my teacher and my mother had died within the last six weeks and I didn’t know if I could take another loss. The prayer was stopped. I felt as if God said to me, “This isn’t about you, it’s about Carey!”

I returned to praying for a miracle for her – specifically, that the horse would stay calm, since every time he struggled, some of the dirt on the side of the ditch became dislodged. But just as I prayed, the horse started struggling again.

Why, I thought, am I getting the opposite of my prayer?”

A few minutes later, the hiker returned with a park ranger, who reassured us that the paramedics were on their way.

But now Carey gasped, “Linda, I’m running out of breath. I think I might only have twenty seconds left.”

Knowing that the paramedics were several minutes away, I thought, “No way is she going to die now, with help so close!” It occurred to me that I might have been wrong about the horse’s struggling; maybe when he struggled, he moved enough to allow Carey to get some air down in the hole. Perhaps this, too, was a gift from God.

I suggested to the ranger that he take one of the horses’ hind feet and I’d take the other. If we made him kick, maybe he’d lift his hindquarters enough so Carey could get some breaths.

We did manage to get the horse kicking – enough that Carey was able to turn her head and find a new pocket of life-saving air.

Within another few minutes, twelve paramedics arrived. I began to relax, but the crisis wasn’t over yet. Lifting the horse was not an easy task. The paramedics tried to call a vet. No luck. They called for a hoist. Again, no luck.

Finally, one of the men who knew horses suggested that they wrap a rope around the horse’s hind legs, then wrap the rope around the tree and all pull. If they could elevate the hindquarters, two paramedics might be able to yank Carey out of the hole. It worked. A minute later, she was out. By this time, she had been under the horse for almost an hour and a half.

While the paramedics worked with Carey, the hiker told me that she had started hiking on that trail and then realized that it was too isolated. She was starting to turn around when she heard my cries. I calculated that she had probably started on the trail just as the accident had happened.

Was she led to go up the trail? She was right where she needed to be, when

I needed her. In the midst of this potential tragedy, I understood that no matter what the situation and how hopeless it looks to us, there is always a place and a way for God to come through.

Carey was hospitalized for three days. She had some minor heart damage, part of her face was paralyzed, she had a broken finger, and bruises of every color. The day after the accident I organized a prayer circle for Carey’s complete healing. It included people she didn’t even know – friends of friends of friends. After several weeks of physical therapy, she was completely healed.

Just five weeks later, Carey and I went on another one week riding vacation. And both of us did just fine.

By Linda Seger
Published in The Breakthrough Intercessor, Winter, 2006
Note: Dr. Linda Seger is a script consultant and the author of nine books, seven on screenwriting. She has three M.A. degrees (two in theology) and a ThD in Theology.

Rocky Balboa Finds Redemption

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“The more I go to church,” he said, “and the more I turn myself over to the process of believing in Jesus and listening to His Word and having Him guide my hand, I feel as though the pressure is off me now.” Stallone spoke of being reborn in a teleconference with pastors and religious leaders concerning the faith elements of the unlikely sixth movie that’s due out Dec. 22. “You need to have the expertise and the guidance of someone else. You cannot train yourself,” he said. “I feel the same way about Christianity and about what the church is: The church is the gym of the soul.” Sylvester Stallone

Excerpts from The Gym of the Soul

Sylvester Stallone has purposefully included faith and values in the Rocky films, and those elements are even more prominent in Rocky Balboa (“The Heart of a Champion,” “Fighting the Good Fight,” “Recovery After a Fall,” etc.), the final chapter in the Rocky story due in theaters December 22 (yes, Stallone himself gets back in the ring!).

In interviews with various faith-based publications, Sly recently shared some of his thoughts about the Rocky character and faith: “In Rocky, if he’s just a fighter, then it’s just a boxing story, and I told the producers in the beginning, ‘It’s not a boxing story; it’s a spiritual journey. It really is about a man that has been chosen to accomplish a role, to be an example for other people’.” – Sylvester Stallone

Interview with New Man Magazine “If you don’t have a great relationship with God, you can go off the deep end. The Christian foundation of life is really the perfect ideal which one should base every decision they make on, because it comes from a sense of kindness, a sense of giving, a sense of fairness, and it avoids everything which I’m exposed to every day in my particular industry which is greed, and avarice and jealousy and bitterness . . .”

Interview with Catholic Digest We recently screened Rocky Balboa for some key leaders, who had a chance to meet with Sly after the screening. Here’s what they had to say: “Life is hard, and faith can help us to face some of those challenges and issues in our past and you see Rocky do that throughout the movies but particularly it comes to kind of a peak in this movie and it was exciting to see.”

Rocky Balboa stars Sylvester Stallone, Burt Young, Milo Ventimiglia, Tony Burton, James Francis Kelly III, Antonio Tarver and Geraldine Hughes.

Deacon Godsey’s Letter to the AFA

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When “boycotts” or “response campaigns” occur, we may end up winning the battle (at least in our own eyes), but we’re also making it much more difficult to win the ultimate war of seeing people give their lives to the God who loves them and the Savior who died for them.


Hi all,

I recently received an “email action alert” from the American Family Association; maybe some of you received the same thing. It came in response to…well…click here to see: http://www.afa.net/Petitions/Issuedetail.asp?id=215

Below is an email I sent them through their website; I’m considering using this as a launching pad for a website article on “Jesus and the Media: Living in the Tree of Life,” addressing the concerns I include below, as well as some “extra” discussion of all the guilt-trip emails that get forwarded around the Christian community, reflecting the same kind of “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” approach I believe organizations like the AFA have chosen to take.

With all that in mind, I’m fully aware of the tightrope one walks when trying to stress the “tree of life” without eating from the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” at the same time; if you have a minute, please read the email response below and let me know your honest opinion of whether I “crossed the line” or not. If I do the article, I want to make sure I’m sticking in the right tree.

Thanks…

To whom it may concern,

It is with great respect that I write to express my concern over the reactionary nature of the AFA’s efforts to address the criticisms levied at the Christian community by the U.S. mass media.

While I share your concerns for the name, image and reputation of Jesus being sullied by our culture, I’m concerned that “boycotts” of THE BOOK OF DANIEL, Madonna’s concerts, Rosie O’Donnell’s comments on THE VIEW, etc. may be classic cases in missing the point.

When such “boycotts” or “response campaigns” occur, we may end up winning the battle (at least in our own eyes), but we’re also making it much more difficult to win the ultimate war of seeing people give their lives to the God who loves them and the Savior who died for them.

Christians who have lived/worked in Hollywood – daily experiencing the prejudice, criticism, sarcasm, etc. of their colleagues because of their faith – will tell you very clearly: they have never met ONE individual who has given their lives to Jesus as the result of a boycott, but they know MULTIPLE people who have chosen to “dig their heels in” even further because of the way our Community handles itself when it comes to the work they’ve chosen to give their lives to.

I realize my email probably isn’t going to cause any major policy changes at the AFA, but I still thought these concerns need to be shared.

Jesus died for Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell, the creators of THE BOOK OF DANIEL and everyone else in the media/ entertainment industry…do we really need to make it even MORE difficult to reach them w/His “kindness that leads to repentance” by responding with such defensiveness?

I’m sure they already KNOW we’re hurt by their actions/comments (that may, in fact, be their intent in some cases); but what might happen if, instead of responding with criticism and defensiveness, we responded with grace and forgiveness…now THAT (I’m sad to say) would REALLY blow them away.

Just a thought…

Respectfully,
Deacon Godsey
Executive Director of Creative Communication
Trinity Church :: 15555 W Dodge Rd
Omaha, NE :: 68154 :: 402.330.5724, x.3342
www.trinityomaha.com

Hollywood Insider Speaks Out on Prayer

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Karen Covell / Michael Westfall Interview

KAREN COVELL is a television producer, Director of the Hollywood Prayer Network (HPN) and co-founder and producer for JC Productions, an independent television and music production company.

Ms. Covell challenges us to view Hollywood as the World’s most influential mission field and she advocates that American’s pray for the people in the entertainment industry.
Karen is well versed and very knowledgeable about the workings of Hollywood and the film industry so I have invited her to participate in this interview.

MICHAEL WESTFALL: I would like to welcome you and thank you for your participation in this interview. I have several questions to ask you. You are head of a very important ministry covering a very important industry. When and why did the Hollywood Prayer Network, (HPN), begin and how many members do you now have?

KAREN COVELL: Thanks Michael. The Hollywood Prayer Network started in July of 2001. I began it out of Hollywood Presbyterian Church in Hollywood and it has been growing every since. We now have over 5,000 members, representing over 10,000 praying units across the world. And people are joining us on-line every single day!

We have 14 local chapters in the United States, Canada, Thailand and Italy. We have almost 500 “I to I Prayer Partnerships” which are matched pairs of an intercessor outside of Hollywood committed to pray for a Christian who is an industry professional in Hollywood. My goal is to have every Christian in Hollywood and in other entertainment industry cities across the country to be prayed for as missionaries as they work, live and minister in the media. We now also send out HPN Media packets, which include our brochure, our 15-minute DVD entitled “The Hollywood Crisis,” talking about how God is moving through prayer in Hollywood, and our Remote Prayer Stickers, which are stickers that fit on the front of any TV Remote. They say “STOP and pray for this show!” This encourages Christians to pray for the media they’re watching.

MW: What inspired you personally to become active and can you explain just what HPN does?

KC: I have a three-fold reason for my inspiration to start HPN. First of all, as a TV Producer myself, and being married to a composer, I saw that we are working in the world’s most influential mission field. Washington DC is the global seat of power, but Hollywood is the global seat of influence. I knew that Christians had turned away from Hollywood decades ago and since then the programming has been getting darker, more compromising, etc. I believe they started to see giants in the land and they became afraid, thinking they were too big to conquer. It became obvious to my husband Jim and me that more Christians needed to be back here in this mission field, working and ministering so that we could “take back the land.” Jim and I and some friends who also worked here truly believed that though there were (and still are) giants in the land – they are NOT TOO BIG. We believed that if we started asking people to pray, inviting God to come in, bring in solid believers and do a miracle here that we could see Hollywood be redeemed. We are now part of a community of over 5,000 Christians in Hollywood, there are 19 active ministries here (www.hollywoodconnect.com), there are believers in key positions in studios, TV networks, production companies, etc. and we are indeed seeing God doing miracles here. We are seeing answers to our prayers.

Secondly, I want Christians to pray for the people in Hollywood to change “the church’s” heart and perspective of this mission field. I want to have Christians around the world think about the media they are watching, listening to and downloading, and think about the people involved as children of God who need to experience His unconditional love in their lives. I want the Lord to melt the hearts of the angry Christians and empower them to pray for the lost in Hollywood, instead of hating them or refusing to have any part of the media in their lives. Prayer melts hearts and as people pray for Hollywood, their hearts start to transform and they can’t hate us any more! And we have many, many examples of that working as well.

I often plead with Christians not to hate the people in Hollywood for Jesus commanded us to love EVERYONE. “God so loved the world that He sent His one and only Son, not to condemn Hollywood, but that Hollywood might be saved through Him.”

Also, we ask Christians not to participate in mass boycotts against entertainment companies in Hollywood because we can’t make these people ACT like Christians; we have to pray for them to BECOME Christians. I have never met anyone in Hollywood who has become a Christian because of a boycott or a hate letter. But I have met many media professionals who hate Christians and God because of people boycotting their company, their TV show, etc. However, we are also seeing industry professionals becoming Christians because they are friends with Christian co-workers who are loving them to Jesus. It’s very exciting!

We do encourage people to write letters of encouragement or concern so that you’re showing that you are taking the time to express your views about something you feel passionate about. Network and Studios and Advertisers will be more moved to change what they’re doing if they get thousands of personal letters, emails and phone calls, versus receiving 50,000 mass postcards. However, this tactic must still be accompanied by prayer because ultimately it’s not only the contact that we want changed, it’s the heart of the people creating the content that God is most concerned about.

Thirdly, I want to have the Christians in Hollywood prayed for by Christians on the outside. I see Christians every day in Hollywood who are here despite their pastors or parents desires. They come without any support from their family or church. They are discouraged because they came out here to use the gifts and talents that God gave them and want to minister here as well. Yet, they are told that coming to Hollywood will compromise their faith, they’ll be selling their soul and they won’t be able to maintain their relationship with Jesus. They don’t get any support from home and they fell conflicted in their “calling.” I challenge the people back home to get excited about their friend or family member wanting to be in Hollywood and to pray for their friend or family member as a foreign missionary as if they were going to Africa, India or any third world country. The work here is just as important and actually much more far-reaching than even the work by missionaries in those far away countries. So, if the church would commission their “arts missionaries”, pray for them, send them off with their blessings, and even financially support them as they are starting out, then we would see even greater Kingdom work in Hollywood because the Christians here will be supported and empowered by the Church and by their community back home.

My desire is to have the Church become again the Patron of the Arts! We need to see that God loves creativity and creative people and that we should celebrate His handiwork through the work of His people by praying for them, supporting them, and empowering them. And I believe that all starts with prayer!

MW: Where would you like to take this organization going forward?

KC: I have a few goals for HPN. I would like to have every Christian in Hollywood prayed for by a Christian on the outside as their Media Missionary. We now have almost 500 “I to I” Prayer Partnerships (Intercessor to industry Professional) and we need over 4,500 more.
I would like to have churches all over the country embracing the arts and the artists in their church. I pray that they will replace boycotts and hate letters with prayer and financial support for those people working on quality projects, along with encouraging them to use their gifts and talents for God’s glory IN the secular entertainment industry.

I would like to see the thousands of non-believers, seekers, humanists, atheists, new-agers, etc. in Hollywood come to a personal relationship with Jesus.

I would like to see Christian investors and donors financially supporting the arts – both the artists and the film, music and TV projects that Christians are trying to create and produce.

I would like to see God’s presence so visible and tangible in Hollywood that it would lead to a revival! And a revival in Hollywood will bring a cultural revival.

MW: Most Americans have no idea about the demeanor or belief system of today’s movie moguls. Are these studio decision makers different from mainstream America or do they care about our nation’s values and morals?

KC: The majority of the Hollywood decision-makers and cultural influencers (celebrities) are not Christians. However, many of them consider themselves in some way “spiritual.” Many are seeking significance, purpose, meaning and peace, but they are looking in all the wrong places. They think that fame, money, power, meditation, gurus, tarot cards, crystals, alcohol, affairs, drugs, workaholism, etc. will fill them up. Others claim to have no spiritual belief system at all, and then some have created one or are following a certain belief system that doesn’t make them have to change their lifestyle. Many industry professionals are very politically and socially minded, and that often becomes their religion as well. Their Bible is the New York Times. Many give generously to charities such as AIDS relief and they consider themselves good people, moral people and people with values. They don’t want to hurt or mislead the people in America; they want to be good people. They just don’t understand that their worldview is morally destructive. And they get angry when we tell them it is. They do not want to be told what to do (as all of us don’t) and they believe that they truly have their hands on the pulse of America. They are lost and so the things of Christ make no sense to them because God’s truths are spiritually discerned.

The people in Hollywood are a tribe of people who fall under the definition of a “Hidden Peoples Group”, as defined by the US Center for World Missions. They are closed to outside influence, they have no direct access to the gospel, and they have their own culture, their own language, their own gods that they worship (the Oscar god), they have their own traditions, rituals and world view. So, yes, they are different from mainstream America, but they actually don’t know it! That’s why we can’t tell them how to act or what to do. We have to pray for them, build positive, loving relationships with them and then let the Lord work through us to touch their hearts. Just as we do when we send missionaries to the far corners of the earth. We don’t try to make the tribes in a third or fourth world country act like Christians. We send Christians to them, support the Christians with prayer and finances and trust that as they build relationships and use their gifts and talents to share Jesus with them, the tribe will come to know God and change their ways. It’s the same in Hollywood.

MW: Americans are upset with many of the films that Hollywood has been putting out. What is your perspective on the films and why are they not producing more family friendly films?

KC: That’s a very simple answer. We all create works that reflect our worldview. The people in Hollywood are creating films, music and TV shows that are reflecting their worldview, their broken and wounded childhoods and their belief systems that stem from all of their woundedness. If more of the people creating the media came from healthy families, they would be making more family friendly films. Most of them don’t even know what a healthy family is, so they have nothing to draw from. However, if the Lord touches their hearts, then they will be able to create products that will reflect their new worldviews as “new creatures in Christ.” That’s the only way that the films that Christians are upset with will change. We all only draw from what’s inside.

MW: Hollywood is a movie city with a reputation for its liberal slant. Do you share this view?

KC: Yes, Hollywood is a very liberal minded group of people. And it’s because social issues, political issues and non-biblical beliefs guide the people here. If there were more Christians here then the “slant” would be more conservative and spiritual than political and liberal.

MW: Does it concern you that some liberals may view your work as pandering to Christian conservatives? Have you found it difficult to find actors, producers, directors and decision makers sympathetic to your goals?

KC: I have never had people tell me that I am pandering to Christian conservatives when I focus on my faith, my love for others and my desire to serve others. That response only comes when Christians combine politics with their faith. I stay away from politics in Hollywood because that’s not what’s important. Jesus, His love, His forgiveness, His hope and His joy is what I believe is the most important message I have to tell and no one has been turned off when I offer that to people here. So, I have not found it difficult to find anyone inside of Hollywood who is not sympathetic to my goals. Ironically, the only people I have found questioning my ministry, my work and/or my love for the people here, are Christians outside of Hollywood. They are the only people who have gotten angry at me, questioned me, disagreed with me and argued with me. And I believe that’s because of either fear or a lack of information. Once I get a chance to explain why the Christian community in Hollywood is doing what we do, what results we’ve seen and what spiritual growth and break-through we’ve experienced, then even some of my toughest critics are able to change their views and come alongside us. And once I get to tell people not to be afraid of the people in Hollywood but to pray for them and love them, then that often breaks down walls between me and the church as well. We all just have to focus on Jesus’ message and then trust Him for the results. We stay away from politics the way that Jesus did in His time – and drove some people crazy, even in the first century!

MW: Does conservative Middle America influence Hollywood and do the Hollywood decision makers care about the messages that are in the movies they produce and how these movies impact our culture?

KC: Yes, Middle America influences Hollywood by the TV shows they watch, the music they buy and the films they download or go see. We cast our votes by what we watch and listen to. And Yes, Hollywood decision-makers care about the messages they produce, but they care about different messages than we do. Most Christians believe that Hollywood is run by money. But actually that’s not true. Hollywood is run by worldview. Producers and executives will put millions of dollars into projects that they believe in, but they are not interested in putting their money into projects with messages that do not reflect or support their worldviews – sometimes even if it will make them lots of money. I know of people who have turned down lucrative projects because they just didn’t like what the story was supporting or saying.

However, they are the same as Christians. We turn down projects that don’t support our worldview, so why should Hollywood decision-makers be any different? The only problem is that their worldview is not ours and we don’t like that. (And the Christian worldview is not theirs and they don’t like that!)

And yes, they know that their projects impact culture, but they also often believe that their projects are just reflecting culture. And maybe they’re right… As Christians we need to first look at ourselves and question what media we’re personally watching, supporting and spending money on, because we could be sending the wrong kind of messages to Hollywood. As parents, do we know what our children are watching and spending their money on? Statistics show that Christians are buying the same kind of media that non-Christians are buying. I think a lot of the issues that you’re bringing up may bring us back to our own walks with the Lord and our personal choices that we’re making. That’s just a thought to ponder.

MW: I have several friends in the movie industry and we do get into some interesting discussions about what the answer is to making movies more family friendly. I know that you and I have had some great debate. I also know that you respectfully do not appreciate my more direct and vitriolic approach towards Hollywood. I do on the other hand appreciate your approach of using the power of prayer. Certainly we should be praying for the people in this industry, but why should conservatives frequent the movie houses or TV screens that expose their families to offensive material? What is wrong with sending a clear message of disapproval of certain films that cross the line of decency by conducting boycotts?

KC: I thank you for your support of prayer. That is very encouraging to me. And actually I also agree with you that Christians should NOT “frequent the movie houses or TV screens that expose their families to offensive material!” I think Christians must start making decisions not to support immoral or offensive product. I know that if no one watched the Playboy Channel, it would not stay on the air. That’s a fact. So, we must all make personal choices to guard ourselves from filling our minds and hearts up with anything that is not of God. Those personal choices are much more powerful than mass boycotts. I am and have always been supportive of personal “boycotts” or merely personal discipline to say NO to what’s not good for us. That won’t make anyone hate us, but it will send a powerful message that we don’t want to see that type of product. It’s the mass postcards that are useless. It’s trying to get people to stop going to Disneyland when Disney supports gay marriage. That’s a mass boycott that sends the wrong message. All that’s saying is that Christians are judging non-believers and we have the attitude of “I’ll show you.” So, what is the natural response to that? “I’ll show you back!” And the game continues. The more effective response would be to stop watching the shows that offend us and then start a mass movement of prayer for the executives who are making the decisions to support gay marriages, or sexually graphic programs or shows full of language, etc. and watch the Lord do miracles in the hearts and lives of these executives as millions of Christians pray. And the result of that? Not only will people change, then their programming will change, but they will be attracted to Christians because we’re praying for them and not hating them. It’s a thrilling paradigm shift that I’m praying Christians all around the world will have soon! And it’s more effective!

MW: HPN material talks of a writing campaign where viewers write personal letters to producers, directors to TV shows or films. How successful has that been?

 

KC: Personal letters are very successful, as I mentioned above, if they are sincere and personal. The major networks all work with the premise that every personal letter they receive represents 10,000 other people who feel the same way. That’s powerful. However, they throw away every single pre-printed post-card, mass boycotting letter and email with thousands of signatures, because they believe those people are just joining a movement and may not really feel the same way as the one who takes the time to write a letter expressing their personal views. A producer of a feature film will respond much more personally and be moved more powerfully by a personal letter expressing someone’s joy or concern for their film. But, if they read in the paper that thousands of people are not going to buy any of their studio’s merchandise or go to their theme park because this producer’s movie is offensive to them, then the producer will either laugh or say, “I’ll show them” and be motivated to do the same thing again, or something worse because he doesn’t want anyone to “tell him what to do!” That’s human nature. The personal touch is what’s effective. And if a producer gets 25,000 personal, loving letters about his film, you can bet he’s going to pay attention. But, the letters have to be kind, respectful and intelligent. We are told to be willing to “give an account for the hope that is in us, but with gentleness and reverence.” The Christians need to think through what they want to say and why their perspective should be considered and that takes time, effort and commitment. Are we willing to do that? I hope so. And again, those letters MUST be accompanied by the motivation to lead the person to Jesus and they must be covered in prayer.

MW: Hollywood has such a huge presence and influence in our nation. Why aren’t more people in the film industry speaking out on values and moral issues, or are there other Hollywood voices speaking out? If so who are they?

KC: People in Hollywood are often speaking out about all kinds of causes and issues. Celebrities are leading campaigns against AIDS; they are raising millions of dollars for political, educational and social issues. And they are doing it because those are issues of value and morals for them. But again, the things that we see as moral issues are often spiritually discerned and the industry professionals don’t have the same foundation. They have the same desire to make a difference in the world. However, it’s just from a different foundation or perspective than some of ours. And actually, I think the industry pros would be much more impressed with Christians if they saw us as passionate about caring for the sick and the poor than we are about trying to make them act differently!

MW: Your work at HPN is significant. Are other pro-family organizations lending their support to your efforts?

KC: We’ve been interviewed by Christianity Today, Outreach Magazine along with the LA Times and many other Christian and secular publications. Jim Dobson, President of Focus on the Family has had me interviewed on his radio show. Also, on the end of our free DVD, “The Hollywood Crisis”, we have endorsements from Steve Douglass, President of Campus Crusade for Christ, Chuck Colson, President of Prison Fellowship, Father Willy Raymond, President of Catholic Family Theatre Productions, Paul Cedar, President of Mission America and Bruce Wilkinson, author of “The Prayer of Jabez.” We are also updating our DVD this month and adding a wonderful endorsement from Bob Reccord, President of The North American Missions Board. We are getting amazing support from organizations all over the world. And the list is growing. My prayer is that someday Focus on the Family will join us in praying for Hollywood instead of leading their mass boycotts. But, it’s the Lord’s timing and not mine! I’m thankful and encouraged by the growing support for looking at Hollywood as a mission field. And many are even acknowledging that it is indeed the world’s most influential mission field.

MW: In conclusion, you and your group have stepped into the public eye using the power of prayer to address one of America’s most pressing cultural issues, which is the movie industry. It has taken an amazing amount of backbone, effort and moral conviction to do so.

Can you tell a little about yourself and your other activities in the film industry? Also are there any other points or issues that you would like to address?

KC: I am a TV producer who works on Specials and Documentaries. I like projects that deal with real people in real situations. My husband is a composer and he writes music for film and television scores. We live in an incredible community of creative, sharp, talented people and our Christian friends in Hollywood are awesome. We’re raising our two boys (Christopher is 15 and Cameron is 11) to be second generation missionaries in Hollywood, and we believe that as Christopher studies to be a film director and Cameron continues acting, that they too will be tent-makers in the entertainment industry. I am a member of the Producers Guild of America because I want to work with and build more friendships with people of all faiths. We are committed to training Christians to be more culturally relevant in sharing their faith with others and we teach an annual 10-week class and have written a book by the same title, called “How To Talk About Jesus Without Freaking Out” (Multnomah Publishers). We also believe that the strongest way to share our faith and touch others is through storytelling. Jesus was the great storyteller of all time and so we love to tell stories. We have written another book (both books are co-authored by our dear friend Victorya Michaels Rogers) called “The Day I Met God.” (Multnomah Publishers) It’s a book of 32 true stories of people whose lives were radically changed when they had a personal encounter with Jesus.

I am also starting a new exciting prayer venture. On August 27, ’06 we will open a 24/7 prayer room in the Hollywood Presbyterian Church where our entertainment ministries are and we’re already signing up Christians in Hollywood to come and fill up 24 hours a day, seven days a week with prayer. We would love to have you join us in praying for the city and the entertainment industry of Hollywood from August 26 – September 2nd. That info is on the HPN website: www.hollywoodprayernetwork.org

MW: Karen, thank you so much for participating in this interview. Your answers will speak volumes to those who want to know about you and the importance of The Hollywood Prayer Network.

KC: Thank you so much for allowing me to share my heart with your readers. I appreciate you and your willingness to be challenged by a new approach to Hollywood and I pray that you and your group will join HPN in praying for Hollywood and the global entertainment industry.

Please check out these sites for further information on how to join and participate in the Hollywood Prayer Network. www.hollywoodprayernetwork.or

By Michael Westfall

The Book of Daniel Update

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“The Book of Daniel” has run it’s very short course on network television, and boy has it stirred up the Christian community along the way.

The series was about a Pastor, who is addicted to pain pills, who is married to a lovely woman, who happens to be an alcoholic. They have three children, one 16 year old girl who sleeps with her boyfriend, one teen-age son who is gay, and one adopted Chinese boy who is a rebel. They have lesbian relatives, crooked priest friends and Daniel talks to a wimpy Jesus – in his car, in the yard, at the mall……

Some of the Christian community has been horrified at the portrayal of pastors, priests and especially Jesus in this series. Boycotts have been rampant, nasty letters have been circulating, and anger is high. Donald Wildman (The American Family Association) and Reverend Lou Sheldon have been the leaders in the boycotts and letters. They truly believed that their boycotts would get the show off the air – for if the advertisers don’t buy ads the show will die.

And AFA has just recently announced that they have “won the battle!” “The Book of Daniel” has been pulled off the air by the network and the AFA believes it’s because of them.

The Hollywood Prayer Network wants to let you know that the entertainment industry is NOT run by money and it is not hindered by boycotts. It is run by WORLD VIEW and decision to air shows or pull shows is determined by world view. There are TV shows that have been on the air for years and not getting good money from advertisers, or even good ratings, but the executives and the creators want it on. There have been shows that have been top shows with high ad dollars being paid and huge numbers of viewers, and the network execs have found reasons to pull them. The reason is because “they want to.” Just like we do want we want, and we fight for what we want and we’ll spend money on things that we like. That’s human nature and Hollywood is no different. We don’t blame human beings for acting human, but we have to understand that Jew or Gentile – we’re all alike.

Therefore, HPN wants our members and readers to know what inside sources have confirmed; “The Book of Daniel” was taken off the air, not because of the AFA or any Christian efforts to kill the show succeeded, but just because people didn’t watch it. It wasn’t because of advertisers, it was because it wasn’t strong enough as a drama. It wasn’t a show that appealed to middle America. It wasn’t a great show. We didn’t have to get all upset and fight a battle that only the Lord can fight. We just need to pray about shows that upset us, and not watch them!

Yes, it’s great to take the time to write an intelligent, personal letter to a network Exec. or a creator of a show, telling them why you can’t watch their show (or why you love their show, in those cases!). But it is NOT helpful to the Christians working and ministering in Hollywood, for Christians to write nasty, demanding letters or boycott shows with mass postcards, pre-printed messages and angry notes. That only hurts our cause and makes the non-believers hate us and Jesus. If seekers are to know that we are Christians “by our love” then we must all act loving toward them.

There is a verse that I think is important when wondering how to respond to projects that portray our Lord in a bad light, that misrepresent Him or even defame His name. And it is Paul in Philippians saying: “But that doesn’t matter. All that matters is that people are telling about Christ, whether they are sincere or not. That is what makes me glad.” Phil. 1:18.

Let’s rejoice that we have opportunities to turn into good, what the enemy may be trying to use for evil. Let’s ask the Lord to use us to preach the truth of the gospel in conversations about TV shows where He is portrayed wrongly. Let’s engage in culture and lift up our Lord when others are throwing Him around because they don’t know who He is. And let’s trust that the Lord can handle the non-believers. We just have to show His love, His forgiveness, His patience, His kindness and His truth – yet with gentleness and reverence.

I personally found incredible opportunities to share my faith with people who saw “The Book of Daniel” and didn’t have an opinion on the portrayal of Jesus. In that light, I’m sorry it’s over. My friend, who worked on the show, had the unique opportunity to share his faith with the whole producing and writing staff in the writers room every week, because they were talking about Jesus. Now that is over as well.

So, please don’t think that by boycotting a show, that we are winning a battle. Instead, please believe that when we PRAY for a show, we are fighting a winning battle. We encourage you to ask the Lord what your place is in seeing revival in Hollywood and then join us in lovingly offering our hope to those in Hollywood who don’t have any hope. And then let the Holy Spirit change and convict hearts!

Stay always in His grip,
Karen

By Karen Covell, Hollywood Prayer Network

Before You Boycott: An Alternative View of The Book of Daniel

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Dear HPN Prayer Warriors,

I’m sure many of you have heard and had questions about the new show The Book of Daniel. You may have also seen the boycott e-mail from AFA. We would like to offer a different perspective.

My dear friend Dena, is the head writer of “One Life to Live.” She is brilliant, a great writer and loves the Lord. She received the same dreaded email that the AFA was sending out everywhere to get Christians to boycott “The Book of Daniel” and Dena was horrified that after all these years her mother doesn’t get what Dena stands for, why she’s here and how she views her own industry. So, she watched the show last night, as Jim and I did as well, and then wrote this email below. It’s so wonderful I wanted to send it to you, the members of the Hollywood Prayer Network, so that I can encourage you to think differently about our world and encourage you to pray. I want to give you the freedom to forward this as an alternative to the request to boycott.

Karen Covell


Dena’s response to the AFA boycott of The Book of Daniel

My Review re: The Book of Daniel:
I can hear the pitch now… A writer goes to tptb at NBC and says I have a spec script for a one hour, single camera TV drama (the pilot was two hours, I know.) It’s “Joan of Arcadia” meets “Desperate Housewives”. (I’m not saying that’s what happened, I’m just projecting.)

That’s all he would need to say to get the script read. Any exec at any network would flip over backwards. The idea of two high concept/successful shows that seem to have nothing in common, colliding in one show?… Are you kidding? It’s a slam dunk.

Then the execs read the piece and probably got nervous. Would they offend James Dobson? Would that be a good thing or a bad thing. They obviously went with the “good thing” scenario because they shot and aired the pilot and (I believe) slotted it for a regular time.

I know there’s a lot of chatter on the internet about this show and I haven’t read ANY of it. But I did watch the show. As an active member of the Hollywood Prayer Network and a guest lecturer at Act One, (I’ll explain the nature of those groups in a minute) I felt it necessary viewing– even though it’s not my cup of tea. I knew I’d get asked about it. Your email just reminded me…

Okay, so here’s what I thought artistically… The structure of the pilot was basically good. The pace was quick and the exposition (meaning information about the characters that we (the audience) needed to know) wasn’t too boring. The dialog was occasionally witty, occasionally clunky.

Although the characters were sort of soap opera cliches, I didn’t think they were too one dimensional. For example: The priest’s wife was clearly an alcoholic, but sort of a functioning one, in that her drinking didn’t keep her from attending to her children or from being an occasionally funny and sweet companion for her husband.

They gay son wanted to be “out” but didn’t want to be a poster boy for gayness or march in any parades and was willing to go out on a date with a girl to mollify his grandfather (also an Episcopal priest) in order to keep family harmony.

The daughter saw no moral problem with selling pot but didn’t (as far as I know, I missed part of the show) smoke it.

Interesting choices that kept all the characters from being too stereotypical. But here’s where the “Desperate Housewives” part comes in… The plot. Oh my gosh… Vintage soap opera. The conservative grandfather/priest is having an affair with the female Bishop? The brother-in-law (by marriage) absconds with the church funds then dies during some sort of unexplained sex orgy in a hotel in Daytona (I think it was Daytona), and his wife is a lesbian? The grandmother suffers from Alzheimer’s and says inappropriate blurts at the dinner table? Come on! This is all over-the-top craziness, bordering on camp and (on more than one occasion) crossing the line into total farce. It was even too much for me… a soap writer.

And yet, I loved the fact that this family adopted an Asian kid who is now a teen and was totally blended into the family — so comfortable in his role as son and brother that he doesn’t mind dishing out and receiving jokes about the difference in his ethnic make up. I loved the way his parents loved him. I loved the way he jousted with his brother and sister. I loved the Romeo and Juliet aspect of his romance with the white daughter of the town’s “Mr. Potter” (A reference to “It’s a Wonderful Life”. There were also stolen story points from another classic movie, “The Bishop’s Wife”.)

And to be perfectly honest, I think the moral stance these people took isn’t that unrealistic. I mean, seriously… here’s a priest who condones and actually encourages pre-marital sex of any and all kinds (and not all that troubled by adultery.) As far as I know, this is a fairly realistic portrayal of where the liberal contingent of the Episcopal Church stands on such matters. Yet, look at this man reaping what he’s sowed. His church and his family are in chaos. Even though the writer didn’t intend us to draw such a conclusion… is this really a bad message?

And lesbians shouldn’t be too happy with this show. One lesbian was a total idiot. The other (I think we’ll find out in later shows) is a murderer and stole 3 million dollars from the church. (The writers were willing to offend everyone.)

Now as to the theological part of the story… I adored the concept of a priest having intimate conversations with Jesus. I really did. But the writer never got past the cool concept and dove into what the actual content of those conversations should be. Jesus offered nothing. He was vacuous and non-impactful. Hardly the kind of guy who stirred things up so much in his day that he went and got himself crucified.

However… I wasn’t offended or worried by this. What a nice opening for a conversation with someone. “Did you see The Book of Daniel last night? What did you think of the portrayal of Jesus?” You could go onto say how it didn’t really jibe with what you know to be true about Jesus… and the next thing you know, you’re “witnessing” without “witnessing”. Can’t be all bad.

But what I won’t do… what I never do… is boycott or letter write. All this does (and this has been proven time and time again) is cause “Hollywood” to dig their heels in, and react negatively to Christians and reinforce the idea that Christians are insecure, judgmental, and (to be bluntly honest) stupid. I know. I work in this world. I’ve heard it first hand so many times.

Jim Covell got into it with James Dobson once while guest speaking during the “Focus on the Family” radio show. He went toe to toe with Dr. James about boycotting– Jim (Covell not Dobson) took the position that, while a boycott may have momentary impact on the entertainment industry, in the long term it’s devastating to the Church in general. Dr. James took umbrage to this and that part of the show was edited out before it aired. Hmm… A guy who isn’t open to debate on such matters? Heck, I’m for debating anything. So was Jesus for that matter.

Boycotting and such worldly tactics were the weapons of Gandhi, not Jesus. Jesus only boycotted one group of people… money changers at the temple. And that was purely an “in house” matter. (By “in house” I mean church business.)

The Hollywood Prayer Network believes that our war is not with flesh and blood and that we are not called to fight in that way. We’re in a spiritual battle. We are about our Father’s business… and his business is the business of changing hearts. No heart of any network executive anywhere was changed (that I know of) by a boycott. Prayer changes people. The Holy Spirit changes people. We are called to pray. I would love to see emails go out urging Christians to pray for the execs at NBC and the creators of The Book of Daniel. This plan of action works. It really does.

The other strategy for combating the enemy in such matters is to raise up Christian young people to enter the entertainment field. That’s what Act One is all about. They bring young adults into Hollywood from all over the country (ones with legit promise) and teach, mentor and empower them to get jobs in the business. The problem is, Christian parents all over the country are actually discouraging their kids from entering such a dark and evil business– when they should be doing the exact opposite. (Thank goodness you didn’t feel that way.)

Jesus was about getting to the heart of the matter. That’s what we have to do with NBC, CBS, FOX, ABC and all the movie studios.

If anyone you know would like to become a prayer intercessor for the entertainment industry (which really is a mission field), then have them log onto the Hollywood Prayer Network website.

There… I got wound up. Sorry. Can’t help it. I love my Jesus.

By Dena

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