Can I Get a Witness Protection?: Be the Light in Your Community (Movie Review)

John FarrellBy John Farrell7 Minutes

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

Frank and Daphne thought they had everything. Successful businesses. A nice house. Expensive clothes. Fancy cars.

They had all these materialistic trophies, but at what cost? Their marriage was on the verge of going up in smoke and they were growing apart. Divorce was imminent.

That is until Frank witnesses a mob boss kill several men outside of his trucking company in San Diego and their lives change forever. The two enter into the Federal Witness Relocation Program and are taken several hours north to Fresno – a city where apparently “most people in San Diego don’t want to find.”

This is how Can I Get a Witness Protection? begins, and the off-the-wall situations and laughs don’t stop there.

As part of the witness protection program, Frank and Daphne are forced to assume new identities as Jack and Julie Jacobs. As if leaving everything they had worked for in their lives behind wasn’t hard enough, Jack’s (Jamie Alexander) new profession was something neither of them were prepared for – Associate Pastor of the struggling First Fresno Presbyterian Church.

Being thrust into this type of role does not come easily for most people, especially when said person is a non-believer. Although this wasn’t exactly what Jack or Julie (Jacquelyn Zook) imagined their future looking like, God had different plans.

During the first Sunday service after Jack and Julie arrive, the church’s longtime pastor (Kevin Brief) dies, placing all of the worship and outreach responsibilities on Jack’s shoulders. After a disastrously bad memorial service and even worse Sunday worship service, the church’s musical director, Kathy (Karen Whipple), does two things for Jack.

First, Kathy takes Jack on a short walk, which is only a few steps off the church’s property. She turns to him and states, “Okay, you have officially come further into the neighborhood than Pastor Bronwen ever did. … He was a good man, but I think he thought of the church as a fortress that could protect his flock from the evils of the world.”

During Pastor Bronwen’s tenure at First Fresno Presbyterian, the church did little to help others and be a beacon of light to the surrounding community.

The second thing Kathy does is suggest Jack prepare for the following week’s sermon by reading three books – Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ, C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, and Josh McDowell’s The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict—rather than try to read the former pastor’s complete library of books. By reading these books, he begins to understand the foundations on which Christianity is based; however, he’s struggling internally.

Jack, who has been living in the church’s closet with his wife, tells Julie that he feels like a hypocrite preaching a faith he doesn’t believe in. Julie replies, “Yeah, I guess you are. … Well, you are a hypocrite, but you don’t have to be.”

When Jack asks her what she means, Julie explains, “Well, to not be a hypocrite you just have to believe what you’re preaching, right?”

It is at that moment that he realizes it’s not about him – it’s about God, the church, and helping others in God’s name.

During the second worship service under his leadership, Jack stands before the congregation and tells them what he thinks:

“It all boils down to Christianity being a religion of action. We’re called to actively love one another. We’re called to go out and feed the widows and orphans, and we’re ordered by God Himself to help our fellow man. So, my question is ‘What are we doing in here?’ If God calls us to go out and save the world, then why do we keep having church inside. So, here’s my big idea: We all are going to get up and we’re gonna go into the neighborhood and we’re gonna find someone who needs help and we’re gonna help them. I mean, it’s finally light in here and I for one don’t want to keep our light inside. End of service. Let’s go!”

Being a Christian in name alone isn’t enough. You need to accept Jesus Christ into your heart as your Savior, but it’s also important to be kind and help others as Hebrews 13:16 states: “But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”

Or as Jack puts it, “Do you want to go to a church that only exists to help itself?”

Do Jack and Jill truly accept Jesus Christ into their lives? Do they stay at the church? What becomes of their marriage? Does Jack’s efforts to spur the congregation into becoming a light in the community actually work? Will Jack ever come face-to-face with the mob boss he witnessed committing murder?

Curious to find out what becomes of First Fresno Presbyterian Church, Jack, Julie, and the rest of the cast of zany characters in Can I Get a Witness Protection?