Monthly Archives: February 2014

Church leaders buying out theaters for screenings of ‘Son of God’

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Diogo Morgado

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (ANS) — American church groups are seeking to “take over” entire theaters for screenings of “Son of God,” theDiogo Morgado upcoming movie from 20th Century Fox, about the life of Jesus Christ, and based on the hit “Bible” miniseries.

According to Hilary Lewis, writing in the Hollywood Reporter, “Various religious organizations throughout the country have been buying out screens and distributing tickets to groups of thousands of people for ‘Theater Take-Overs’ on Thursday, Feb. 27, the night before the film’s officially released, according to production company Lightworkers Media.”

The story went on to say that Crossroads Church in Cincinnati is bringing thousands of people to a Cinemark theater, where “Son of God” will be showing on 13 screens at the same time.

“Our church bought out every screen in the theater,” Crossroads’ Brian Wells said in a statement. “If anyone comes to the theater to see another movie that night, they’ll be out of luck, unless we have a few extra tickets to give them!”

There are a few other theater buyouts for “Son of God” scheduled at Cinemark locations throughout the country, according to the theater chain’s marketing and communications head James Meredith.

“It’s very interesting to see this level of excitement around the movie,” Meredith said. “The interest level for meetings, events, screenings and buyouts seems to be on par with that of major blockbuster, tent pole or franchise movies.”

Mega-church pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., is buying out screens in eight different theaters throughout Orange County.

“I’ve seen most of the films about Jesus produced in the past 50 years, and ‘Son of God’ is the best,” Warren said. “We’re excited Jesus is back on the big screen, and we’re going to fill the theaters. I want every other faith leader in America to do the same. Whether you can buy out a whole theater, or just one screen, now is the time to show up. This is a rare opportunity to bring the story of Christ into our mainstream culture.

“We want to see Jesus in movie theaters where sight and sound can open up our senses and let grace come in. The message of the Gospel deserves to be on the big screen – and this is our chance to see it there.”

Besides supporting the film, Warren is also partnering with LifeWay Christians Resources to release a Bible study for movie.

The small group curriculum resource by Warren is said to be the “perfect companion” to “Son of God,” produced by husband-and-wife team Mark Burnett and Roma Downey. The study became available Feb. 15, two weeks before the movie hits theaters Feb. 28.

“Son of God: The Life of Jesus in You” is a DVD small group Bible study, which features Warren explaining how you can find your purpose in studying the life of Jesus, and is available at LifeWay Stores and www.lifeway.com/n/Product-Family/Son-of-God.

“There’s nothing more important you can do with your life than spending time getting to know Jesus,” said Warren. “Through the Son of God study, people will receive practical teaching on the life of Jesus and its impact on individual lives and life purpose. Jesus’ teaching trans forms from the inside out.”

The six-session study features video clips from the theatrical movie and custom videos from Pastor Warren explaining Jesus’ teachings and their impact on people’s lives. Topics include baptism, temptation, suffering, death, resurrection and ministry. Scenes from the movie such as Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist will help illustrate each topic.

Other churches and organizations, ranging in size from 10,000 to 4 million, are distributing tickets for a “Theater Take-Over.” Some pastors will also buy out screens showing the film in Spanish and Korean. There’s even a Catholic “Theater Take-Over” planned for Miami.

The Hollywood Reporter story also stated that various business leaders throughout the country are also donating tickets to churches and non-profits.

“Son of God” is a version of the hit “The Bible” miniseries, featuring new and used footage, focused just on the story of Jesus Christ. The Bible averaged 11.4 million viewers during its five-week run on the History Channel and became the top-selling miniseries on DVD of all time.

Mark Burnett and wife Roma Downey, said in a statement, “We’re very excited that the community is mobilizing to support ‘Son of God.’ The grass roots support is so important and the faith community is amazing when it mobilizes. Our hope is that the story and message of Jesus Christ will reach tens of millions of people nationwide.”

Burnett and Downey promoted the film at last week’s National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., where President Obama spoke to an audience of religious and secular leaders from around the world.

“We are going to spend around $10 million on commercials, and that is nothing. You may not even see a commercial for this. … The only chance we’ve got is the church community spreading the word,” Burnett said at the prayer breakfast, where 30 minutes of the film was shown to the audience. “We carried the backpack so far. We made it; we unbelievably got it in theaters everywhere. It’s now a great time for people to bring groups and bring people with them who need this message, who need to know who Jesus is.”

To find out more about the film, and see the trailer, go to www.sonofgodmovie.com.

Shields of Strength to share God’s word at Sochi Olympics

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By Tonya Whitaker
Inside The Pew

An athletic ministry and a Christian jewelry company have found the perfect way to put Christ on the minds of the athletes who arePhilippians 4:13 taking part in the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Shields of Strength, along with Athletes in Action (AIA), a ministry of Cru (formerly called Campus Crusade for Christ), will minister to coaches and competing athletes by providing spiritual, emotional, and mental support in the multi-faith center of the Olympic Village.

Team member and Olympic Chaplain Carl Dambman has been ministering to Olympic athletes in both the summer and winter games for the past 33 years. He said a dozen AIA staff and volunteers will distribute the shields to athletes who are seeking God’s word.

“The world’s eyes are on heroes of the sports fields, and we want to strengthen and encourage them as people watch them relying on God as their Creator, their Savior, and the One who gave them the talents to perform,” Dambman said.

“If the Shields of Strength can help them in their walk with the Lord, then we’re all for partnering with whoever wants to lift up Christ.”

Kenny Vaughan, founder of Shields of Strength, said that the company has donated over one million of the three million shields they produced to individuals, the U.S. military, churches, and ministries such as AIA. Both Vaughan and Dambman find that the organizations’ new partnership works well.

“Our missions align well because we can give them a tool to help them share Christ through a one-on-one relationship,” Vaughan said.

Vaughan said he understands the fear and pressure that Olympians experience during competition. While trying to win a U.S. Nationals for the water ski long jump, he described a comparable feeling that he was insufficient.

“The unique thing about an athlete, especially in the Olympics, is that they are prepared for pressure,” he said. “But until that momentJoshua 1:9 when you should be disciplined, it’s then when you find yourself saying, ‘God I need you.’ Right then is when you’re even weaker than you realized.

“Athletes in competition think if they have enough courage, they can overcome fear. But really that thought is the trap of life. And it’s not courage, but love that overcomes fear. It’s the courage to love that makes us courageous. That’s the message of God’s word, and Athletes in Action is taking advantage of this opportunity to share that truth.”

During his time of doubt and fear, Vaughan’s girlfriend (now wife), Tammie, wrote scriptures on his ski equipment, which, through God’s power, found their way into his heart and eased his fears. This led Vaughan to inscribe verses onto dog tags and wear them underneath his shirt.

From that first shield, Shields of Strength has grown to also include women’s jewelry and other accessories, like key chains and athletic tape. Seventeen years later, the company hopes that the shields can help Olympians as they face the same trials during competition.

“Love doesn’t always guarantee a win in life; it just ensures we compete with all we have and that gives us a better chance to win,” Vaughan said.

According to Vaughan, the shields have be found on the battlefield and the football field, providing encouragement as a simple reminder to new and established Christians alike.

Learn more about Shields of Strength at www.shieldsofstrength.com.

Charity sale of Pope Francis’ Harley-Davidson causes media storm

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By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

ROME, ITALY (ANS) — Since the announcement at the beginning of January that Bonhams auctioneers is to sell Pope Francis’ Pope FrancisHarley-Davidson and leather jacket, the news has reached more than 50 countries worldwide and generated more than 500 articles of international news coverage.

A news release stated that to mark the 110th anniversary of the motorcycle brand, Pope Francis was presented with the 1,585cc Harley-Davidson Dyna Super Glide and a motorcycle jacket in June 2013.

This rare and exceptional opportunity to own what was the property of the “People’s Pope” has captured the world’s imagination, generating a huge amount of interest in the items, which are to be auctioned for charity by Bonhams at the Grand Palais in Paris on Feb. 6.

The Sale, which is taking place as part of the capital’s Rétromobile Week, will see the motorcycle and the jacket raise funds for Caritas Roma, which works on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church to support those in need around the world.

They were donated to the charity by Pope Francis, who is famous for his work with the poor and his preference for modest modes of transport. Keeping charity and transport at the forefront of his mind, the Harley-Davidson, which has an estimate of $16,000-$20,000, is to be sold with no reserve in aid of Caritas Roma.

Funds raised by the sale will go towards the renovation of the charity’s Don Luigi di Liegro hostel and soup kitchen based at Rome’s Termini railway station.

The hostel opened 30 years ago to help the homeless, jobless and the poor, and the money raised by the Harley-Davidson’s sale will allow it to continue to provide food and accommodation to more than 1,000 people in need every day.

Signed on the fuel-tank by his Holiness at a special ceremony at the Vatican in November, the machine is offered with a Papal Certificate signed by his Holiness’s personal secretary and a certificate of conformity from Harley-Davidson.

James Knight, group director of the Bonhams motoring department, said: “This is an almost unheard of opportunity to those who wish to support such a worthy cause. In return for supporting the charity, the winning bidder will be the proud owner of a unique and desirable collectors’ item of memorabilia. We have customers who have expressed a desire to own both the motorcycle and jacket, but others with a preference for just one item. It will be interesting to see if both stay together.”

The Harley-Davidson and leather jacket will be sold on Feb. 6 as part of Bonhams’ Les Grandes Marques du Monde sale at the Grand Palais in Paris.

Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world’s largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale.