Stephen Kendrick: ‘Everybody Has a Fatherhood Story’ (Part 3)

John FarrellBy John Farrell6 Minutes

John Farrell: What are some of your favorite stories of impact you’ve received from audiences after seeing Courageous?

Stephen Kendrick: We were hearing immediately from US senators saying, “Everybody needs to see this movie. It could turn our nation around.” And we’re hearing individual stories of grown women saying, “My elderly dad came and danced with me after seeing Courageous for the first time and it meant so much to me that he would show me love that way after having seen the film.”

We had 700 officers in Panama showing up in uniform to see the movie in theaters saying it could deeply impact the integrity of the police force. Alex was contacted by someone on the international space station who said they watched it in space and were blessed by it, which is incredible just to think about. So, we have lots of stories from around the world: Russians coming to Christ, people in China watching the resolution ceremony and Courageous and being blessed by that. Men in Malawi, Africa, doing their own version of the resolution and committing to provide for their children after having seen the movie. A thousand police officers coming to Christ in the Philippines after Courageous came out.

It’s really mind-blowing what has happened internationally with Courageous, but we know that it was definitely God because we were not in those places and the truths being communicated in Courageous were true way before we were born and we’re just thrilled to get to be a part of communicating them to this generation.

JF: How and why did you and your brothers get into filmmaking?

Stephen: Looking back, I can tell that God was ordering our steps in preparing us to become Christian filmmakers. At the time we just thought we loved movies and liked to play with our next-door neighbor’s VHS camera. As we were growing up, Alex saw Raiders of the Lost Ark and thought, “Man, I want to make movies like this one day and I want to be Indiana Jones.” But in our teenage years, as we began to read the scriptures and fell in love with the Lord ourselves, we began to develop a love for the ministry and wanting to impact people eternally and not just entertain them temporarily.

It was after serving in ministry for many years that God confirmed that He wanted us to step into that, but we had not been trained in film school and we did not have the resources so we knew we would have to trust Him and pray through everything for Him to carry us and enable us beyond our own ability to try to produce films. Each film has been a film school for us, but also an opportunity for us to prayerfully seek the Lord and ask Him to show up on set, which has happened again and again.

When we’re done with the movies and we’re able to watch them with an audience, they always seem like so much more than what we put into them. We feel like the boy with five loaves and two fish and we’re looking up to see how the Lord has done so much more and can do so much more in people’s lives, but He gets the credit for it, not us.

It has been the hardest thing we’ve ever done to make movies, but also the most fulfilling when it comes to ministry impact and lives changed. We’re privileged to get to be in this space right now. We know it won’t last forever, but we are excited about Show Me the Father and Courageous Legacy and already praying about other films.

JF: What do you hope your legacy is?

Stephen: I want to finish well. I’ve seen so many people in ministry get burned out, compromise morally, or get lazy in the last season of their lives and begin to coast across the finish line. My prayer has been that the Lord would keep us usable, humble, and in love with Him and faithful to the end.

I hope that the films will continue on and the books will continue to impact people around the world for God’s glory, but I also hope that there is a strong, thriving generation of Christian filmmakers that are continuing to produce God-honoring content with excellence that is prayed over and honorable and highly effective at bearing fruits that will last forever. I also hope that my kids are deeply in love with the Lord and we’ll be out walking with Him, doing His will, and raising Godly families and hopefully impacting the world for Christ.