One day I got tired of writing mundane stories about film stars, politicians, writers and other famous people. I guess people would think I’m crazy. How could I be bored with such stuff, they would wonder. Well, believe it or not, I was. I wanted to do something different with my life. I have always wanted to tell stories but somehow I ended up just writing about movies stars did, the policies politicians put into place and the new books or scripts by famous and not so famous writers. I didn’t want to do that anymore. I thought of just taking a vacation. Just pick a random place and go. Then, reason won over impulse. I decided to quit being a freelance writer and spend the next several weeks trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life and my time.
Then, one morning when I was sitting in church, it hit me. It was a special Community Day program and the leader of Outreach ministry was on the podium sharing the work she and the other members were doing among the homeless. I perked up. I listened enrapt and after the service was over, I headed straight over to her. We talked for the rest of the afternoon over a potluck lunch. By the end of the conversation, I had decided that I was going to not only interview her and the rest of the group but I was going to film the whole thing. Yes, I was going to be a film-maker. And I would send my video to the television station where my husband worked. For years, he has been on me to get into filming because I seem to have a way with our video camera and was always making home movies. Now that love was coming in handy.
The ministry leader, Clarice and the group agreed to let me shadow them on their next mission of mercy. They were preparing a hot meal for the homeless and singing hymns as they worked. In between the hymns, they each shared why they were involved in the ministry. While they did their thing I just filmed them. After a while, it was as if they didn’t notice the camera or me. Soon we were off to the community centre where they were to feed the homeless.
Armed with pots of food, they went inside and set up. Soon the place was abuzz with people who knew that they were in for a treat. I was moved when I saw the love and kindness these amazing women showed these downtrodden folk. The love of Jesus was in full force in that place. As I filmed, I knew that this is what I wanted to do until I retired. I wanted to tell these kinds of human interest stories. Stories that really mattered. Stories that I cared about. Feel good stories and ones that made me want to do good to others. Stories with take away lessons.
When it was all over and the filming was done, I helped with the cleanup and took them for lunch afterwards. We had a blast and I told them that I would let them know when their story would be featured on air. A few weeks later it went to air and the response was phenomenal. People called in wanting to donate and or volunteer. I called the ladies and told them the good news. They were overwhelmed and praised God.
My husband, Leo and I went to our favorite restaurant to celebrate. Over spicy chicken wings and fries, I talked about the success of the story and then, I said, “I wonder what next one will be about.”
Leo was quick to assure me, “You’ll know like you did this time.”
He was right. It came in the form of a visiting pastor to our church who was reaching out to prostitutes and drug addicts because he believed that God’s love and grace is for everyone. It was a story which brought me to tears because before I became a Christian and came to know and accept the Lord Jesus, I was a drug addict. Just when there seemed to be no hope for me, a pastor just like this one came up to me and told me that there was Savior who loved me and gave His life for me. That day my life changed forever. So, this is a story I could relate to. And a year later, it won an Academy Award for best short film. To say that I was ecstatic would be a gross understatement and in my acceptance speech I not only thanked Leo and the pastor but I thanked Jesus too. Without Him, nothing and I mean nothing, is possible.
Now, I’m a successful film-maker who continues to film people who need their voices to be heard and their stories told. If your gut tells you that you need to do something else with your life, do it. Don’t be afraid to spread your wings. It could make all the difference in the world.