Stephen Kendrick: ‘Everybody Has a Fatherhood Story’ (Part 1)

John FarrellBy John Farrell13 Minutes

John Farrell: Can you please tell me a little bit about your first documentary, Show Me the Father?

Stephen Kendrick: Sure. Show Me the Father is a very special film to us. It was birthed in prayer in 2019, and the Lord redirected us off our regular feature film route and inspired us to make a documentary about fatherhood.

That is something that’s very special to our hearts already, as we were deeply impacted by our earthly father, Larry Kendrick. But also, we have six kids each. Our oldest brother has seven. So, there are 19 grandkids and cousins growing up together and sharing life together. We are seeing how important it is that we represent our Heavenly Father’s role with our own kids as they’re growing up. And in how we introduce them to Him.

The documentary features five epic and emotional stories that illustrate biblical truths about fatherhood. We have a story that beautifully demonstrates how God can turn the hearts of fathers back to their children and children to their fathers. We have a story that shows that God will step in and be the Father to the fatherless. My own daughter’s adoption story shows how God adopts us into His family, and like Ephesians 1 says, how we become His beloved children.

Tony Evans is featured throughout the movie and communicates some amazing truths about the role of dads and how God is really the perfect Father we all need in life when our earthly father is broken. This is not just for men. Everybody has a fatherhood story, and your fatherhood story is closely connected to your heart. Whether he abandoned you or loved you deeply, you will likely get a little choked up when you become transparent about your relationship with your own dad. But oftentimes people don’t know how to redeem their father’s story or how God can complete that.

I believe this film can strategically help them heal, forgive, and better relate to God as the loving Father that they need even as Christian adults.

The movie is coming out on September 10th in theaters across the U.S. It is cinematic. It’s not boring, and it’s family-friendly. You can take your kids, your football coach and all your players, or your grandparents. It has something for everybody that everybody can enjoy when they watch it.

The Documentary That Started as a Faith Journey

JF: What was the inspiration for making the documentary?

Stephen: We were planning to continue making feature films, and there was this prayerful sense that God wanted us to make a documentary about fatherhood. So, it was a faith journey. We didn’t know that my daughter’s adoption story would be featured in it. We didn’t know that our dad would be a part of it. We didn’t realize that we were going to get connected to Sherman Smith, Jim Daly, and Tony Evans and that all of those stories would become such an important part of the film.

We were moving forward by faith, and God sent a super-talented director, Rick Altizer, and a talented producer, Mark Miller, to come alongside us while we were jumping into the project.

To see the finished movie now and how well it’s turned out and to hear the incredible stories of people being deeply impacted by it during the pre-screenings just confirms that God knows what He’s doing and we need to trust Him.

There are over a hundred ministries that are passionate about fatherhood and are part of the Fatherhood CoMission and support this film. We couldn’t be more grateful for all of them.

JF: I just recently spoke with Jeff Kemp about the Fatherhood CoMission.

Stephen: The ministry was birthed out of prayer as a result of the partnership that came from the movie, Courageous, between all those ministries. They had been siloed and operating independently up until that point, and Courageous networked them together. They began to love and support one another and sharing resources together. And they wanted to keep that going after Courageous was done. The Fatherhood CoMission was formed I think a year after Courageous came out in theaters, and it continues today.

The Adoptive Heart of God

JF: As you mentioned, there are five different stories of fatherhood in the documentary. One of those stories is your own. I was wondering if you could share a little bit about your daughter’s adoption story?

Stephen: Sure. We had four biological children at home, and we were happy and content. But the Lord threw a monkey wrench into our plans that ended up being a massive blessing to our family.

I was on an airplane with my wife in 2011, flying to New York to approve the final master print for the movie Courageous. And the Lord spoke to my heart specifically about adoption and how we needed to be open to adoption. That caught me off guard. Then I found out my wife had been praying for me for over two years that God would turn my heart toward adoption. But she did not want to force me to do it or to push us to do something if God was not in it. So, she just left it with the Lord and trusted His timing.

At that point on the airplane, the Lord set us on a journey of two years of filling out paperwork and going through the adoption process. Well, two years later, God connected us with Mia in China. We flew to China and adopted her and brought her home.

We didn’t realize how much we were going to learn about the adoptive heart of God through that process because scripture says in Ephesians 1 that every believer in Jesus Christ is adopted into God’s family and He becomes your perfect loving Father.

We saw our daughter’s identity completely change. She went from being an unwanted burden in a communist country to being a beloved blessing in a Christian home in America. Ephesians 2 says that spiritually we’re dead in sin, separate from God, without hope in this world, children of wrath, but that through God’s mercy and the cross of Christ we were made alive, brought to Christ, and adopted into His family and became the sons and daughters of God that are beloved now. They can look forward to a home in heaven, and we have access to His heart and His ear in the meantime through prayer.

Since that whole journey was incredible to us we featured some of the best parts of that story in Show Me the Father for just a few minutes. I love my wife’s interview in that whole aspect of the story because she’s so transparent. It really shows the heart of a loving mother as we were talking about the fatherhood of God.

JF: Regarding your daughter’s adoption story, what’s the significance of February 14th?

Stephen: When we chose Mia, we found out she was born on February 14th, 2011, and she had a major heart condition. My wife told me that she was born on Valentine’s Day with a broken heart. We both believed that God was leading us to adopt her.

A few weeks after we locked in the adoption, I went back and looked in my Bible where I had dated the scripture that God had used to speak to me about adoption when I was on the airplane. And it was dated February 14, 2011. The same day Nia was born in China was the same day that God spoke to me in that airplane saying, “You need to adopt.” It was an incredible moment of confirmation for us, and just a deeper excitement about what God was doing because we knew it was not by accident that He was leading us to adopt.

JF: That is definitely God’s work and handiwork.

I also thought Deland McCullough’s story was really inspiring. I was wondering if you could please share a little bit of his story?

Stephen: Sure, but I don’t want to give away any spoilers.

JF: Absolutely.

Stephen: We love the story of Sherman Smith that is featured in the movie. He’s a Super Bowl-winning NFL coach. His own father was a hero and an inspiration for him, and he stepped into mentoring the young men he would coach in football. He would tell them, “You may not be looking for a father, but I’m going to treat you like my son.”

We show that a lot of times it’s not your biological father that steps in and fulfills that role, but God will use other men in your life to be a father to the fatherless.

I also like Jim Daly’s story, who is now the President of Focus on the Family. He has an incredible testimony of God stepping in and being there for him when his earthly father was not there for him in those formative and key years in his life. I love just how that unfolds because it’s so gripping when you hear about what he grew up with – without a dad – but then also the healing that God brought later on.

In Deland McCullough’s situation, in the trailer you see God connecting him with his biological mom, even after he had kids of his own. It almost feels like you’re watching a CSI episode when he’s tracking her down on Facebook and hearing her story.

We’re thrilled with the finished product of Show Me the Father and love the responses we’re getting from people because it’s not just inspirational and entertaining, but it’s transformational. It’s very deep. It deeply impacts people in their hearts by the end of the film.

Read Part 2 of Stephen Kendrick’s Interview

Show Me the Father arrives in theaters nationwide on September 10, 2021. For more information, check out