Dr James Dobson from Focus on the Family interviewed Dr Kevin Lehman, who is a psychologist and very popular Christian author of books about raising children.

I recently re-listened to an interview Dr Dobson had with Dr Lehman and thought I would share some highlights from the interview.

11 Ways a Father can Make a Difference in a Child’s Life

  • Give each child a responsibility in the home.

Dr Lehman had a great quote: “Everybody in our family gives back to the family.  This isn’t a hotel.  It is a home.  Big difference.”

  • Raise each child as an individual

During the interview, the popular scripture, Proverbs 22:6, was shared, which reads:


They made the excellent point, which I had never considered regarding this scripture.  The scripture doesn’t say “train up the child in the way we think they should go”, but in the “way he should go”.  Each child is their own individual and will need to be treated as such.

I would add that the only way we can really know the way each individual child should go is to constantly be praying to God for guidance because the Good Lord knows I’m clueless on my own and will mess it up every time I try and do things without His direction (and my wife’s gentle guidance too).

  • Be willing to accept and own your mistakes

This point was a good one because I feel pulled in so many directions sometimes.  I work as hard as possible to provide for my family.  I try and make time for each individual kid and my wife.  I volunteer at our church and am gone in the evenings sometimes each week.  I’m tired at the end of the day. My patience isn’t where it should be always…I could go on, but you get the idea.  I’m human.  It is important for us to allow ourselves to be human and when (not if) we make mistakes, don’t be too hard on ourselves and remember that we should own up to the mistakes, apologize to our kids when we make them, and then try better next time.

  • Allow your kids to make mistakes

If we are going to cut ourselves some slack, we need to do the same for our kids.

  • Be there

  • Understand your kids

I’m amazed at how perceptive my wife is with each individual child and the calm and selfless way she approaches each individual child.  I pray that I can do the same.  Something that has helped me accomplish this is by setting aside a day each week for me to take each of our kids out on a “daddy date”.  While we are out with each other, I learn things about each child as we get to spend some time together one on one.

  • Love and honor your wife

I think the video below is a great illustration of how we can go about loving and honoring our wives.

  • Believe in your kids

If you show faith in them, it will help them have faith in themselves.

If you doubt them, they will reflect that as well.

  • Slip “commercial announcements” to your kids

This suggestion means the world to kids.  They shared an example of a lady who’s father had told her she got lucky that she went to an easy high school when she came home with straight A’s once on a report card.  That one comment scarred her deeply.

However, if we spin this “commercial announcement” into a positive, it can have the opposite effect.  An example of this is by saying sincere announcements such as “I noticed that you’ve been kind to your siblings lately.  You’ve done such a good job with that and I’m proud of you…”  it can be anything quick and positive and it will go a long way.  Over time, a lot of those comments will add up.

  • Be consistent

Dr Lehman was crying in the interview when he said his greatest regret was being away for work during his daughter’s graduation, when he said he’d be there.  Additionally, he mentioned how he sees the negative effect it has on kids when their Dad’s say they’ll be to places, or do things for them and then allow other things to get in the way.  Always keep your word and do it consistently.  I would also add that having certain routines are important for kids too.  I notice that if I’m out, and don’t make it back in time to tuck the kids in, it has an impact on them and they are unsettled.  However, when I make an effort to be there regularly, they feel calmer.

  • Have fun!!!

In college I had a professor who said “the family that plays together, stays together.” I believe this is true. I think that having daily, weekly, monthly and longer term fun activities to work towards together as a family is important.  It is also important to involve each child in the decision process toward fun activities.  Ideas include: weekly movie nights, game nights, yearly big trips that everyone saves and works towards, etc.


I’m sure that many of you have some additional thoughts and ideas.  Which of these points stand out to you and what ideas/thoughts would you add?

I didn’t get a chance to reflect on the events and aftermath of 9/11 until late tonight.  As I reflected on my own feelings and watched videos of survivors of the tragedy, I came across a great video I thought people would enjoy about part of a Bible that was found months after the tragedy.

Take a look at this video and pay attention to the verses that were preserved from the flames.

  1. http://www.history.com/topics/9-11-attacks/videos/remembering-911-the-ground-zero-bible

In a couple of weeks, I will be taking my Grandpa to Washington D.C. for a special event they are having at the World War II Memorial for surviving WWII veterans.  This will be one of the great honors of my life.

My grandfather went to war thinking he was going to be on the front-lines of battle.  However, on the way to his assignment, the atomic bombs were dropped and the war was soon over.


Although he was mostly involved in cleaning up and the aftermath of war, it still affected him and he saw things that he had never even thought of.  As an 18 year old boy, it was very disturbing for him.  While he was on the island of Saipan, he became severely ill and lost so much weight that they honorably released him and sent him back to the United States to recover.

I spoke with him the other day and he told me that life after the war was extremely hard.  He would have nightmares, stress, and didn’t want to speak with anyone.  He went to some counseling, but he said the real therapy was when his dad gave him some land to work and he could lose himself riding horses on the range, praying, and unloading his burdens on God.

This morning, I watched a short film on some brothers who had served in the Iraq and Afgahnastan wars, who had struggled with severe PSTD as well as drug addiction to try and numb the pain.  I loved their testimony of Jesus and how they describe the healing that came over them as they turned everything over to Him.

Here’s the video:

This reminds me of a scripture from the Book of Mormon as the prophet, Alma, describes becoming born again through giving his sins over to Jesus (see Alma: 17-20):

17 And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.

18 Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, havemercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.

19 And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.

20 And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!

Although I have never fought in war, I have had my own personal battles, as we all do, and I have also experienced this healing that comes through the Atonement of Christ.  I won’t pretend to understand what it is like to suffer and struggle with PTSD or any other of the affects of war that our soldiers go through, but I do know that Jesus understands and pray that we can share the Good News with not only our brothers and sisters who may not understand the peace, strength, mercy, and healing that comes by casting our burdens on Him and allowing Him into our hearts.

jesus washing feetA number of years ago when I was called by a Stake President (for a definition of click here) to be an Elders Quorum President (click here for definition), he gave me some very wise council that I was reminded of yesterday during one of our regional leadership meetings in Stake Conference.  He advised me to lay aside administration and delegate that to one of my counselors and to focus on ministration instead.

When he saw that I wasn’t exactly clear on what he meant by that, he broke it down for me as follows:

Administering is: focusing on programs, processes, managing, and meetings vs. focusing on people.  Sure meetings need to happen and processes need to be in place, but as a leader, I need to be a minister for the Lord.

Ministering is: having personal conversations with the men in my group at least on a weekly basis, praying sincerely with them, sharing scripture with them, holding them accountable to progressing spiritually and developing a relationship with God.

The whole time I served in this role, I had the paper up in my room posted with his advice and I tried my hardest to be a good minister.

Many sacred experiences happened as the Lord blessed me in the ministry.  I remember kneeling with a young man who had committed a serious grievance and faced excommunication from the church.  His soul was hurting and I felt God’s grace come over me as a love and compassion that is only from His grace entered into my heart.  Words came to me in prayer and tears filled my eyes as I knelt with this young man and poured my heart out to God for him.  Afterwards, I invited him to pray and he prayed as well.  This experience along with many others showed me how much God loves the sinner (all of us) and when we reach out to Him, he is right there ready to lift us up and forgive us.

Last night, Elder James Hamula, of the Quorum of the Seventy, gave a powerful and spiritual sermon on the importance of ministering vs. administering.  He shared the scripture in Alma 22:23 on how the King ministered to his whole household and that we need to minister with this same love and compassion to those who we have jurisdiction over.  Elder Hamula asked us what he thought would happen if we focused too much on administering in our congregations and families and a gentleman in the crowd shared a good example that Elder Uchtdorf spoke about a while back where on the surface people looked like they were doing well because they were coming to church and putting on good faces, but over time there were a lot of divorces and strife between members because peoples’ hearts weren’t into it.

When I think of my role as a father, and a leader in my local congregation, I wonder how much ministering vs. administering I do.  Administering in the family is important and as a father, I think that probably comes easier than ministering.  I work hard and provide for them, make sure things are squared away logistically for the family, teach them right from wrong, etc. However, I need to to better about speaking with each individual member of my family, including my wife, and putting my arms around them, sharing my testimony of the Gospel, praying with them with deep, sincere prayers, etc.  Similarly, as a leader, it is easy to hold meetings and track progress and delegate things out to people.  Even when I’m making visits to members of the congregation, I can be merely an administer by “checking” the box that I visited them, but not praying and preparing beforehand and then with them as well.

I’m curious to hear others’ thoughts on ministering vs. administering.  Where have you seen effective ministry as a leader in your congregation, or in your family?  What advice do you have for all of us on how to be effective ministers?

hands of godOver the past 3 years I’ve been working together with the full-time missionaries in my area, there have been many miracles. Most of them are small ones that don’t seem like the big ones everyone talks about such as someone getting healed from sickness or addiction, etc.  However, in all of the miracles I’ve seen, the result is a changed heart (including mine) and a person or people accepting Jesus into their heart and acting on it.

Such was the case with a lady, I’ll name Jess, I just met a few months ago.  I had known her daughter, I’ll name Kris, who was baptized into our congregation almost 3 years earlier, over the course of a few years and had been her home teacher.  For those who aren’t familiar with what a home teacher is, the lds.org website has a great in depth definition.

Over the course of a few years, I had built trust with her daughter, Kris, by being her home teacher.  Her daughter rarely came out to church, but I would visit her with my home teaching companion and we would share gospel messages with her as well as administer healing blessings to her children, visit her in the hospital when she was sick, etc.  When she was living at home, her mother (Jess) and father wouldn’t allow us to come in to visit so we usually communicated outside of her parents’ home, while she was there.  Over time, she developed trust and respect for me and would call on me (usually via text) in times of trouble.

One such occasion was when Kris’s grandmother died while the family was on a cruise.  It was a terrible tragedy and it happened only a couple days after being out to sea.  The family felt hurt, anger at the medical staff for messing certain things up,  By the time they came home, everyone, including Jess was terribly angry, bitter, hurt, and all of those feelings that are natural when tragedies happen.

Kris had moved back in with Jess and her father, so I connected with the sister missionaries in our area to visit them and attempt to share a gospel message of healing.

When we arrived, Kris had left, but Jess answered the door.  She appeared very skeptical when she saw who it was and only opened the door a crack.  The sisters were new in the area and I was the only one who had any form of relationship with Jess via being Kris’s home teacher, so I thought I would be very transparent about my feelings and said a quick prayer, hoping for a miracle.

I told Jess that I was from the church and that I had visited her daughter with the elders of our church many times over the years and was aware of the hurt the family was going through at this time.  I told her that I personally couldn’t understand how painful things must be for her and the hurt she must be feeling.

At this point, the door opened just a crack.

I went on, feeling the Holy Spirit come over me, putting words into my mouth that told her about how God can’t take away the bad situation that happened, but that he could help lessen the pain through his atonement.  I testified about how bad things happen to everyone, but that Jesus died for us so suffering doesn’t have to be forever and that it can be a temporary thing.

At this point, she had fully opened up the door and stepped outside onto the porch.

I then asked her if she would join us in prayer.

She accepted and I prayed.

Once again, the Holy Spirit came over me and I shared a prayer with words that she needed at that exact moment.

We closed the prayer and set up a time for the sisters to visit her again.  From that point on, she had a complete change of heart.  She warmly let us visit her and the family.  The sister missionaries visited her regularly.  Her countenance changed and positive started flowing into her life.  Although the loss of her mother was still painful for her, she allowed the love of the Lord to come into her heart as she accepted Jesus and the gospel.

Yesterday, she was baptized.

The miracle of a changed heart is such a blessing to be able to witness.  God is awesome and I feel it such an honor that He allowed me to be there to have the Holy Spirit witness to her.  I think it is awesome that she chose to allow the Spirit into her heart and accept those words as well.  I hope and pray that I can be led to those who need the gospel and that all of us can make decisions to keep the love of God in our lives and hearts.

In closing, I’ll share a scripture from the Book of Mormon in 2 Nephi 9:21-13, that sums up this experience

21 And he cometh into the world that he may save all men if they will hearken unto his voice; for behold, he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam.

22 And he suffereth this that the resurrection might pass upon all men, that all might stand before him at the great and judgment day.

 23 And he commandeth all men that they must repent, and be baptized in his name, having perfect faith in the Holy One of Israel, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God.

I recently read the popular book, Unbroken, and I was again amazed by what Tom Brokaw rightly called my grandparents’ generation: the Greatest Generation.  They had to go through challenges like the Great Depression and World War II and rebuild our nation.  The values they had as a whole and their work ethic and courage is something that we should never let die and I hope to share the positives aspects of the legacy of the people in that generation with my children.

As I reflected on the Greatest Generation, I thought I would reach out to a World War II Veteran I know, love, admire, and respect greatly–my Grandpa Anderson.


Nephi Anderson in World War II.

My grandfather, Nephi Jay Anderson, was a very young man and at the age of 18 was called to serve in World War II.  He describes his experience with being called to the War in his own words:

Knowing that I would soon be drafted into the service, I received a health and comfort blessing on the 10th of January, 1944 by Patriarch Charles Woodbury…This blessing was a big comfort and guide to me, especially through the discouraging times and temptations through my army experiences.  I am thankful for the admonishing that it gave with a promise that if I kept myself clean and pure and lived the Word of Wisdom, I would go to the service and return in safety and that I would fulfill my mission upon the earth. (Nephi Anderson Life History, pg 29-30)

He was sent to basic training for a few months of training and was in the company that was assigned to be sent over seas and replace those in the heat of battle.  While he was in basic training, he wondered how his blessing was going to be fulfilled that he would return safely because he was projected to be in the heat of battle.  He described how back in those days during boot camp they would use live fire in training as they crawled through the mud with real machine gun bullets flying over their heads.  He witnessed comrades who panicked and looked up and were killed on the spot.  It was a very stressful time for him not only for the rigors of preparing for battle and wondering if he was going to live, but trying to keep his LDS, or Mormon standards while many of the soldiers tried to trick him into drinking and in his words “chasing wild women”.

Right at the end of his boot camp, he received orders that he and a handful of others had been selected to stay for additional training and he was going become a radio operator.  This was a 9 week course that kept him back from being sent over to the front lines of war.  This proved to be what helped fulfill the prophecy given in the blessing that he would be safe during the war.  More than 1/2 of his comrades who were in his original company were killed in battle.

In fact, his cousin, Phil Finlinson, was killed during the Battle for Iwo Jima.  A description of Phil, written by his brother, Paul, to honor his memory is included below:

Phil Finlinson

Phil Finlinson

In the Fall of 1943, Phil was looking forward to his final year at Delta High School.  After playing quarterback on their undefeated football team as a Junior, he was anticipating another great year of football, basketball, track and other school activities.  He was also serving as the school’s Studentbody Vice-President…

But at this time, Uncle Sam had a different idea.  World War II was raging heavily…On October 4th, 1943, the US Government requested Phil to report for his pre-induction physical at Fort Douglas in Salt Lake City, Utah…

On October 19, 1943, he left for the Marines and reported to Camp Pendleton, California for intensive combat training.  He was in excellent physical condition and handled the rigorous training in stride.  He became an expert rifleman and gifted and dependable Marine.

The description goes on to discuss how Phil was part of the group that aided in the invasion of Saipan and Tinian in the Marshall Islands and how up to that point it was the costliest battle of the Japanese war, but they emerged victorious.  He and his group went back to Hawaii for additional training and conditioning for a mission that turned out to be the invasion of Iwo Jima.

iwo jima flag

Famous photo of Flag Raising on Iwo Jima 

The description continues:

The invasion of Iwo Jima began on the morning of February 19, 1945. Phil’s company was part of the 2nd wave to hit the beaches.  He was killed within two hours of wading ashore.  The fighting was fierce and the casualties extremely heavy.  The Japanese were well trained, fortified, and well supplied.  Of the 250 men in Phil’s company, all were killed but seven.  All seven were badly wounded.

Even after all the years that have gone by since that day, I could sense the loss my grandfather felt with his friend and cousin who had sacrificed everything on that day.  Additionally, my Grandpa was deeply humbled that the Lord had protected him (my Grandfather) throughout the war.

He discussed how lonely he felt during the war being so far away from home, being in a foreign land, and being surrounded by temptations to do things against his belief system.  He describes his feelings in his own words:

I never realized at the time that the Lord was blessing me all the time and answering my prayers in a way that was preparing me to rely on the power of prayer and put my complete trust in the Lord. I will forever be thankful to my parents who taught me right…

I will always remember the day my parents took me to the train and bid me goodbye.  Never before had I felt of my parents love for their son like I did that day and the love that I felt for them.  Their love and concern touched the inner most part of my soul as we embraced.  Their last words were: “We love you son. We have faith in you. Trust in the Lord, keep yourself clean and pure, and always remember we would rather you come home clean and pure in a box, than unclean and alive.  Our prayers are for and with you always.  Always pray to the Lord and read the scriptures often and also your patriarchal blessing.  Always remember the great promises.”

Those words sank deep into my heart from that time on my Savior became my very best friend.  I learned to rely in him constantly and constantly prayed to him…

I will be forever grateful for my Grandpa Anderson’s service in the war and as I reflect on Phil Finlinson, a distant cousin of mine, who was killed in battle, I am humbled as well.  These men sacrificed so much to help shape many of the good things about our nation and allow us to enjoy the freedoms and privileges we do today.

I’m also extremely grateful for my Grandpa’s courage to stand up for righteousness at such a young age and develop a close bond with the Lord.  It has blessed my family and many others as well over the years, I’m sure.

My grandfather is nearly 90 years old and is among the youngest people who served in World War II.  I’m sad to see that generation passing on, but I hope to do a small part and preserve their legacy by sharing this story.

As a backdrop for this post, here is John 4:7-11:

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

When I read this scripture, I yearn to feel this kind of love.  Often, I feel selfish, full of sin and imperfect.  I am all of those things.  Sometimes I ponder and try to understand things of the gospel like the Atonement of Christ, God’s plan, scriptures, why things happen,etc. and there isn’t any answer.  I’ve also struggled in the past with forgiving others and have shared experiences with miracles that have happened in my life to be able to not only forgive, but to forgive and love those who wronged me.  It’s a miracle when this happens.

My mother shared with me an interesting story about love, accepting Jesus into one’s life, repentance, and forgiveness, which I’ll outline below.

A New Friend

alzheimersMy mom had some friends who asked her to visit their ailing grandfather, who was in a care center that focuses on Alzheimers patients.  When she started visiting the patient, she felt moved to get to know other patients as well, going above and beyond her “duty”.

As she made bi-weekly visits, she got to know many people in the facility and their family members.  One lady she got to know very well along with her brother who would visit her daily.  This lady was special because no one in the center had been able to speak or communicate with her for years except for her brother, but my mom was blessed to be able to connect with her.

Over the years, they not only connected, but became friends.  Mom knew the lady well and would share stories back and forth with her.  However, every time she asked the lady if she could pray, the lady declined.  Her brother told my mom that it was because she was mad at God and had decided she didn’t want to communicate with Him.

The End

One day, my mom came to visit and her friend was deathly ill.  Actually, they thought she was in a coma because she hadn’t communicated for over a week with anyone and also hadn’t eaten.  She should have been dead.  Her brother told her it was OK to go, but for some reason she was still holding on.

When my mother came, she said that day she was filled with the Holy Spirit and knelt down beside her friend.  She took her friends hand and immediately, the friend’s corners of her mouth turned upward in a slight smile.  My mother offered words of comfort, encouragement, and hope to her.  Then she asked her if she could pray with her.  This time, the lady squoze mom’s hand and indicated she did indeed want a prayer.

During the prayer, mom said she was speaking words completely guided by the Holy Spirit.  At one point, she said something about the lady being able to forgive the man who had abused her.  Mom didn’t know anything about this, but the words just came out of her mouth.  She went on to pray for healing, and for the lady to have the ability to repent for her hard feelings she had harbored.

After the prayer, her brother pointed down to her eyes and a little tear was coming out of her eye.  Her brother told my mom that she had been abused as a young lady by someone and that was what my mom had been prompted to pray for.  My mom continued speaking with the lady and over the course of a few minutes the lady indicated through squeezing my mothers hand that she had forgiven the man, accepted Jesus’ healing power of the Atonement and had repented.  Peacefulness settled into her tortured body, mom asked her if she would be there to greet her when it was her time. Within 1/2 hour she passed on.


In this situation, my mother was an excellent example of how we can open up ourselves to feeling the love of God and reaching out to love others.

She could have just done her “duty” and visited the man her friends wanted her to visit.  However, through the love of God she has, she was moved to visit others and do as Jesus would do had he been there.

Not only did she visit others, but she witnessed of Christ and His atonement to others as she felt guided by the Spirit.  This led to miracles in the life of at least one lady, and I’m sure there are others that were blessed through my mothers’ efforts that she hasn’t told me about.

I pray that I can feel this kind of love and not be afraid to act on the promptings I receive from the Spirit.  I know that as we open ourselves up to the Lord, we can make a huge difference in the world.

Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, to keep oneself unspotted from the world. Pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.–James 1:27

This is a follow up to the FREETOWN article I wrote a couple weeks ago.  It opens today so don’t forget to get out and watch the movie if you’re close to a theater.

Below is the interview with Adam Abel, the director for FREETOWN:

(Adam is the one on the far left)

(Adam is the one on the far right)

Can you tell everyone who doesn’t know about you yet who you are and why you do what you do?
I am motivated by the power of story telling. I love the visual medium that film provides. I am drawn to story’s that explore the human experience and are based on true stories. As an audience member myself, I like to see and find hope in entertainment because I need such in my own life.
What was your inspiration in choosing to produce Freetown?
I first heard Garrett talk about Freetown while attending a film festival in early 2014. I was excited to hear the story and feel Garrett’s obvious passion for it. Garrett officially pitched me on the idea of partnering to make Freetown in May 2014. I admired his success with The Saratov Approach and felt Freetown was a great project to bring our individual strengths together and see what we could create. The script Melissa Leilani Larson and Garrett had written was thrilling, entertaining and inspirational. I was all-in.
What are you hoping that people take away from watching the movie?
First and foremost I hope people are entertained. Once that has occurred I hope they are inspired and motivated by the themes explored in the movie. No matter your place in life we all need to “keep moving forward.” The idea of “Faith overcomes Fear” is relevant no matter your place in life.
What inspirational moments did you have during the filming process?
I was struck, every day on set, by the passion and efforts made by our cast and crew in making Freetown. There is one moment in the film where a congregation of believers sing a hymn. The tangible spirit that accompanied their performance that day was unforgettable.
What was the most challenging part of the filming process?
Making “independent” films are challenging, no matter the circumstance. Add to that being in a foreign land, working with an unfamiliar cast/crew and there are certain to be challenges. But with every challenge we faced there was a compensating miracle to accompany it. One particular challenge we faced, early in our production schedule, was the wreck of a drone copter. It was fully submerged in a river during the wreck. Aerials in Freetown are used to demonstrate that God is always watching. It was imperative the copter get fixed but we were in West Africa and there wasn’t an easy or cheap way to get it fixed. We bought about 50 lbs of rice and used an airtight container. After 36 hours the copter not only worked but performed as we needed it to for the rest of the production.
What was the most exciting part of the filming process?
The most exciting part of the process for me is to be able to look back and see that 9 months ago we didn’t know anyone in West Africa but now have a completed film that is being well received by audiences around the world.
Tell us about the actors in the film.  
They were great. The talent available to us in West Africa was exactly what we need to make the film.
Will the movie be shown at all major theaters, or certain ones?  
The film is being released on April 8 around the country. We will be in 100+ theaters on April 8. Our distributor, Purdie Distribution, has done a great job spreading our 100+ screens out so we can reach a wide audience. AMC/REGAL/CINEMARK are some of the chains we are showing in. The film only succeeds if our audience support us opening weekend.
Where is the best place to learn more about the movie?
Our website www.freetownthemovie.com and facebook.com/freetownmovie are great places to learn more.
Where was the movie filmed?
Accra, Ghana.
How do you select which actors and partners to work with and why did you choose who you did for this film?
Filmmaking is a collaborative art form. Actors, Musicians, Cinematographers, set designers, to name a few are all artists and can on their own create their individual art. Filmmaking brings various disciplines together and in my opinion elevates individual contributions thru a successful collaboration and completion.

FREETOWN releases nationwide on Wed., April 8
It has a limited release so see it on that day/weekend!
To find a theater near you, visit http://www.FreetowntheMovie.com


Our little 6 year old daughter came home after church a few weeks ago and asked my wife why she was crying while the Primary was singing the song “Gethsemane”.  She said she felt good inside but also felt like crying.

As a father, I was so glad to hear this.  We spend so much time praying for her and trying to teach her how to strengthen her relationship with God and know Him through prayer and scripture study, church attendance, serving others, etc.  She has often asked me how she can understand if God is speaking to her so it was a perfect teaching opportunity to share with her that He speaks to us through the Holy Spirit, which speaks to our spirits through feelings such as she experienced during the song.

I’ve included a very good video that has the song to help us as we each take time this weekend to reflect on the gift of the atonement that Jesus gave us.

Have a blessed and happy Easter!

When civil war broke out in Liberia in late 1989, eight native Liberian missionaries of the Church were serving in the country. By July 1990, conditions were so bad that those missionaries were shuttered inside their homes, unable to preach the gospel and forced to risk death just to meet with members.

With their work grinding to a complete halt, Elders Marcus Menti and Joseph Myers, zone leaders in Monrovia, determined to go wherever they had to in order to complete their missions and serve as they had been called to do. That meant leaving Liberia, so together with the other four missionaries serving in Monrovia—Taylor Selli, Joseph Forkpah, Roverto Chanipo, and Dave Gonquoi—they devised a plan. With the help of Philip Abubakar, a counselor in the local branch presidency and the missionaries’ driver, the elders planned to travel north to Sierra Leone, cross the border, then continue to Freetown, where their mission presidency had already been compelled to flee.

(Excerpt from article The Lord Provided A Way)

Having served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I realize that it can be dangerous out there. However, when I read the article last year about missionaries who had been caught in a civil war in Africa that had to escape while rebels pursued them, I realized the challenges I faced on my mission are very minimal. The article was very inspiring, and intense. I was excited to learn that there was going to be a movie made from their experience as they overcome severe challenges to escape the country while being hunted down and threatened to be killed by the rebels.

I was able to catch up with Adam Abel (known for Saints and Soldiers and other movies), the producer of the movie, along with Garrett Baty (known for the movie, Saratov Approach), the director of the movie. They were kind enough to allow me access to the press screening of the movie and also do an interview with each of them about the making of the movie.

As I watched the press screening of the new movie, FREETOWN, which is on limited release and opening in theaters on April 8th, I was amazed at the faith of the elders as they were pursued by their enemies during the civil war in 1989. Their faith and desire to teach the gospel is amazing and the way God protects them while the rebels pursue them and nearly capture and kill them on a few occasions is amazing. The filming is great and done in Africa with African actors so it has a very authentic feel to it. It is definitely an inspiring movie that is also entertaining with intense scenes/situations.

As mentioned, I was able to catch up with both Adam and Garrett. Garrett’s interview is included below with some pictures of the filming of the movie. Adam’s interview will be published next week.

Interview with Garrett Baty, Director of FREETOWN

Garrett Baty

What was your inspiration in choosing to direct Freetown?

I read a short article about missionaries caught in a civil war in Liberia. I was intrigued because these were African missionaries, in a situation completely foreign to me, yet their motivations were very relatable. After reading their own accounts of what took place, I was determined to retell their experience in a film.

What are you hoping that people take away from watching the movie?

In addition to being entertained, I hope they appreciate the courage and determination that these missionaries had. I hope that after seeing the film, people will look at their own challenges, and feel motivated to overcome them. A prevalent theme throughout the film is “Keep Moving Forward,” which is really resonating with audiences.

Elders hunted down

What inspirational moments did you have during the filming process?

The production process was incredibly challenging, however I recognized daily “miracles” that enabled us to accomplish what we were trying to do. In researching the story, I interviewed a Liberian refugee, now in Ghana, living amongst some of the very rebels who caused him so much loss and suffering. I asked how he was able to live in such close proximity to those who were responsible for his loss. He taught me about forgiveness and moving forward, in a way that I will never forget. He stated “You can’t replace spilled water. If someone drops the vessel, you work together to get a new vessel, and fill it with new water.” His example is incredibly inspiring.

baptism freetown

What was the most challenging part of the filming process?

It was challenging to be away from family for 6 weeks. Making any film is difficult, and typically it is nice to go home each night and recover from the time on set. When you are half a world away from your loved ones, it give you a lot of time to dwell on the challenges of the day.

What was the most exciting part of the filming process?

It was exciting each day to see the footage that was being shot. We filmed a chase sequence with rebels chasing missionaries through a village, and it was a very exciting day on set. Each day’s footage was like opening a Christmas present, especially knowing how difficult it was to obtain each shot.

Freetown gun

Tell us about the actors in the film.

We auditioned over 125 actors for the film, and were amazed at the talent we were able to find. The film features some stirring performances, and the actors handled these scenes very well. We were also fortunate to have several recognizable veteran actors appear in key roles throughout the film. It was fun to have these famous Ghanain actors show up on set and be swarmed by fans. It’s not often that an independent film attracts that type of talent.

Garrett Baty with the actors

Will the movie be shown at all major theaters, or certain ones?

FREETOWN opens in elect theaters across the U.S. on April 8th. We’re very fortunate that AMC, Cinemark, Regal and Megaplex, along with other national chains have picked up the film. Purdie Distribution is distributing the film.

Where was the movie filmed?

FREETOWN was shot in West Africa, in and around Accra, Ghana.

What makes this film unique?

FREETOWN is unique because it is an important, faith-affirming story, set in a time and place that wouldn’t typically be inspiring. The Liberian civil war isn’t addressed very often on film, and when it is, usually the focus is on the brutality and harshness of the circumstance. FREETOWN is an experience unlike anything that audiences have seen.

How did you select which actors and partners to work with and why did you choose who you did for this film?

I approached Adam Able to be my producing partner on this film because of his vast experience in telling war stories with an inspiring message. I chose to work with screenwriter Melissa Lealani Larson after reading a short film that she had written, and seeing that she had a wonderfully honest and unique style.

FREETOWN releases nationwide on Wed., April 8
It has a limited release so see it on that day/weekend!
To find a theater near you, visit http://www.FreetowntheMovie.com


Cleanse your Soul with Grace for Grace “Spiritual SOAP”

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 829 other followers

“Like” Grace for Grace on Facebook

GraceforGrace Community

Blog Stats

  • 393,712 hits

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 829 other followers