Monthly Archives: February 2016

Epic biblical drama ‘Risen’ seeks to answer, ‘Can a Roman soldier prove Resurrection was a hoax?’

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By Michael Ireland
ASSIST News Service

LOS ANGELES – In a fresh take on history’s biggest event, seen through the eyes of a high-ranking Roman military officer, RISEN is an imaginative retelling of what happened Risenafter Jesus was crucified and resurrected.

Following the crucifixion, Pontius Pilate (Peter Firth) assigns Clavius (Joseph Fiennes) to find Jesus’ missing body and disprove any resurrection.

RISEN stars Joseph Fiennes (SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE), Tom Felton (HARRY POTTER), Peter Firth (PEARL HARBOR) and Cliff Curtis (LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD). Kevin Reynolds (ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES) directs with Steven Mirkovich editing (THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST).

RISEN is an epic biblical story of Jesus’ crucifixion and the weeks following, through the eyes of the unbelieving Clavius (Joseph Fiennes), a high-ranking Roman military officer. Clavius and his aide Lucius (Tom Felton) are assigned by Pontius Pilate to ensure that Jesus’ radical followers can’t steal his body and claim a resurrection. Within days, however, the body is missing, putting Clavius on a mission to find it, to disprove the rumors of a risen Messiah and to prevent an uprising in Jerusalem.

RISEN picks up where THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST left off. Here is why a ragtag group of disciples fanned across the Roman empire and changed the course of history. Politically, historically, spiritually … and seeks to answer the question: ‘Why is this story still so important?’

The Greatest Manhunt in History

High-ranking Roman military officer Clavius is on the detective assignment of all time: to disprove news of Jesus’ resurrection. RISEN filmmakers cast the story of Jesus’ life, deathRisen Poster and resurrection from a skeptic’s point of view, and the result is an exciting and fresh take on one of the world’s most-known stories.

AFFIRM Films is known for faith- and family-friendly classics such as WAR ROOM, SOUL SURFER, COURAGEOUS and WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL. AFFIRM Senior Vice President Rich Peluso leads the creative team behind films that satisfy the faith audience and go beyond to widely inspire, entertain and engage.

Early reviews suggest a new biblical epic hitting theaters this week is picking up where “The Passion of the Christ” left off.

“Risen” tells the story of Jesus’ crucifixion through the eyes of Clavius, a Roman military officer who is on a mission to prove the resurrection did not happen. Actor Joseph Fiennes stars as Clavius. Fiennes shared more about the film with CBN News’ Efrem Graham.

“A big attraction for me was the way his mind worked, but to get to his mind I found I had to take a physical route. I went to gladiator school in Rome. I stayed long enough to never want to go back,” he told CBN News.

“I spent the good part of a week working with a brilliant set of guys, and what I learned from a military standpoint was a way into the man was conditioned and the way that he thought,” he said.

Clavius is an ambitious Roman soldier who first tries to keep Christ’s body from being stolen after his crucifixion. He then sets out on anmi_CLAVIUS_and_Lucius_02-25-2016 angry journey to find the body after it disappears from the sealed and guarded tomb. He’s a bit of a detective.

Director Kevin Reynolds shot the film in Spain and Malta, where Fiennes had no contact with the actor who played Christ until their first scenes together.

“We had a wonderful team of actors, and they were all very present and dedicated to the narrative. Like any great narrative in any great movie, it’s about relationships,” Fiennes shared. “I think your average good actor gets that and knows it and preps accordingly.”

“So, the disciples as a group of actors were incredibly bonded. They were a unit and a family. And I was very much polarized and outside of that, but when I got invited into the group, it was kind of like the arc of the film was the arc of my existence with them,” he continued.

“I wouldn’t have contact with them until we had made those scenes where we had contact. So that became quite emotional that journey,” he said.

“I think a big component in the movie for me and what I connect to with Clavius is the sense of the second chance, even if it is in the subconscious, which hasn’t quite bubbled to the surface or he has worked out, so I love that component.”

That second chance is exactly why Christ suffered, died and was “Risen.”

“Risen” opened in theaters February 19.

Photo captions: 1) Jesus crucified along with other convicted criminals in RISEN, in theaters nationwide, Feb. 19, 2016. Photo: Columbia Pictures. 2) Advertising poster for RISEN. Photo: Columbia Pictures. 3) Clavius (Joseph Fiennes) and Lucius (Tom Felton) execute orders from Pontius Pilate in RISEN. Photo: Columbia Pictures.

Heart attack victim raised from the dead!

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By Charles Gardner
Special to ASSIST News Service

DONCASTER, UK — A man from the Yorkshire town of Doncaster in the north of England, was restored to life after being clinically dead for nearly an hour during hospital treatmentRaised_from_the_Dead has been speaking about his experience at Christian meetings around the country.

But in an exclusive interview with this journalist, Joe Stevenson has now shared his amazing story for the purposes of newspaper coverage.

The “miracle” happened six years ago, and has been verified by the surgeon involved.

Joe was admitted to Doncaster Royal Infirmary for a total knee replacement but, at the initiation of physiotherapy the day after surgery, he suffered a massive heart attack.

For the next 55 minutes he had “no cardiac output and no respiratory effort other than what was maintained by the resuscitation team,” according to Consultant Orthopedic Surgeon, Mr. A. S. W. Bruce.

When informed by the patient’s son-in-law that Joe had died, his church friends began to pray – not for the Lord to raise him up, but for his family to be comforted.

Then, amazingly, his heart started beating again – “spontaneous cardiac output and respiratory effort were returned,” said Mr. Bruce – and he was in a coma for the next 72 hours. But there was no brain damage and, although initially suffering acute renal failure, this completely settled in time.

“Having seen him in clinic, he has made an uneventful recovery,” Mr. Bruce added in a letter dated Jan. 25, 2011.

Now 75 and in continuing good health, Joe lives in Coniston Road, Askern, with his wife, Wilsie.

Dr. David Garrard, a senior lecturer at the Assemblies of God Bible College at Mattersey, Doncaster, and a fellow member at the time of the Reachout Christian Fellowship at Christ Church in central Doncaster, said: “The miracle of the resurrection power of Christ is evidenced in what happened to Joe.”

Joe was admitted for his operation [surgery] on Dec. 9, 2009. The op itself went smoothly, but it was the following morning, as he lay recovering, that he suffered a cardiac arrest.

Wilsie called their five children, who immediately dropped everything and raced down from all over the country. Then the doctor announced: “We have a pulse, but don’t build your hopes.”

“The medical team had fully expected Joe to be a vegetable due to no oxygen supply to his brain for all that time,” Wilsie recalled. “And though his kidneys were not initially functioning, with regular dialysis on the cards, they eventually returned to normal, to the delight of the medics.”

Joe has since revealed that he had a series of extraordinary visions during his hour of “death.”

This included a scene of “total chaos on the earth” with everyone struggling for power and some arguing over clothing and possessions which had become worthless as money no longer had any value.

“The Lord showed me armies fighting one another, even beginning to kill their own people; young men and women taking people into alleyways, killing them at random and running away, laughing. I saw pillaging and rapes.

“Then I saw millions of dead bodies inside a massive lean-to, all in different uniforms. And giant earth-moving machines pushing the bodies into a quarry – something like a picture of Armageddon described in the Bible.” (Revelation 14.20)

Dr. Garrard explained: “I have no difficulty at all accepting what Joe communicates [of his visions] because… they can be backed up by many portions of Scripture.”

Joe and Wilsie are currently members of the Millennium Christian Fellowship in Hemsworth [a former mining town in West Yorkshire], meeting at the YMCA.

Joe said that in the weeks leading up to his surgery, he had sought a much closer relationship with God as a result of which he experienced “a deep cleansing and a strengthening of spirit.”

He now realizes that we all need to get back to basic Bible principles of loving one another as one body, with Jesus as head.

Belles: Super Bowl sex trafficking is not a myth

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By Tonya Andris
Inside The Pew

Now that Super Bowl 50 is history, one organization continues its call for more awareness on sex trafficking that occurs during the annual game and other large events.Nita Belles

Nita Belles, founder of In Our Backyard, recently took her fight for victims to San Francisco, taking issue with journalists and supporters of the sex industry who called increased sex trafficking during gatherings of this sort as an urban myth.

“An urban myth? Are they serious?” questions the human trafficking expert. “There is no myth about it.

“Traffickers smell the money present at the Super Bowl celebrations and bring their victims here to exploit them and take the money. We are not talking about voluntary prostitution,” said Belles, author of a book that bears the same title of her organization. “The fact is that adults and children are being forced into sex trafficking. Human trafficking is the second largest and fastest growing crime in the world—and that includes the United States. It is happening 365 days a year in every ZIP code. Trafficking, and even the recruitment of new victims, absolutely escalates around large events that draw big crowds like this week’s Super Bowl.”

Belles lead a team of professionals who worked non-stop to ensure that those who are being trafficked have a fighting chance at freedom and that the sex buyers and traffickers will be brought to justice.

“There’s a saying that prostitution is the oldest profession in the world,” Belles said. “But it’s the oldest abuse in the world. Here is my request to the media: Don’t be quiet. Don’t fall prey to the lie that human trafficking is not increasing.  All the traffickers ask is that we keep quiet and perpetuate the myth that it doesn’t happen here. I ask for the media’s help in making it hard to be a trafficker.”

A 2014 study by the University of Arizona about increased sex trafficking during large events stated that “The Super Bowl, or any large event which provides a significant concentration of people in a relatively confined urban area, becomes a desirable location for a trafficker to bring their victims for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation.”

After last year’s Super Bowl in Arizona, the FBI announced that Arizona police departments and law enforcement officers conducted recovery operations for six months leading up to the Super Bowl, where agencies recovered numerous juvenile victims, ranging in age from 13 to 17, as well as adult victims who had been subjected to physical abuse by their traffickers.

Overall through their efforts arrests included 360 customers of commercial sex, 68 traffickers and the recovery of 30 juvenile victims.  Belles said that in 2014, 45 arrests were made around the New Jersey Super Bowl, with 16 juveniles recovered.  In New Orleans the year before, 85 arrests made and five victims recovered.

“Any time you have a large number of people gathering in one place with a party atmosphere—especially males, it’s prime ground for sex trafficking,” Belles said. “I know of animals who are treated with more respect than those who are trafficked. They are forced into horrendous acts that we don’t even want to imagine. Prostitutes are usually victims,” she says, “and ‘john’ is too nice a word for someone who should be called a ‘sex buyer.’ She adds, “Those who are being trafficked are precious children of God and deserve to live free of modern slavery. That is why I do what I do.”

Belles explains that escape is difficult because victims are closely watched and often traumatically bonded to their captors. Those that are rescued are hoping that they can get the help needed to find a new, safe, happy life.  Sex trafficking victims, particularly minors, have a tough road in front of them, even under the best circumstances. They need trauma-based treatment, kindness, understanding, a stable and non-threatening environment, and lots of time.

“Many will need professional counseling and medical or mental health services to recover from the atrocities that have happened to them,” Belles said. “Those recovered in the anti-trafficking efforts in the Bay Area will be offered that help.”

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