Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Unsung Heroes

I just got back from the Biola Media Conference in Los Angeles. In the next few days, I will be posting my thoughts as well as some interviews with industry insiders. But first I want to write about the unsung heroes that I met during my week in Los Angeles. They work every day as media missionaries on the front lines. Although they don’t call themselves media missionaries, they are undoubtedly doing the heavy lifting of a Christian working and functioning in Hollywood. You probably would not recognize their names or the projects they have worked on. They are not looking for notoriety or fame. In fact, that could hurt their efforts.

These unsung heroes often work below the line as line producers, first or second assistant directors, and production managers. Sometimes they work above the line as producers or directors. But in whatever capacity they function, they are making a difference every day in the lives of the people they encounter. They live out their lives missionally. In other words, they see themselves working and living on the mission field as tent makers (a reference in which the Apostle Paul supported himself as a missionary).

They have an active purpose and reason for being in Hollywood. Yes, they love media and filmmaking, but they also have a love and passion to reach the entertainment industry for Christ. I’m convinced they are the real deal and have the power to change the face of Hollywood, not because they are different than any one of us but because they are willing to make sacrifices and be lead by the Holy Spirit and join God in His work.

How do they do this? At the very heart of their mission, they have a love for the people of this industry. They recognize that people who work in Hollywood and the entertainment industry are no different from any of us. They are lost and in need of redemption. Our unsung heroes also have a passion to serve people. When you come to Hollywood, no one starts at the top. You have to be willing to serve people. That’s a fundamental truth that all media missionaries must understand.

The people I talked to that I most admire believe in serving people through servant evangelism. They are first and foremost a friend—someone you can trust. They are the ones that get the call at 3:00 a.m. on location when somebody is in trouble. No questions asked. They are there with a helping hand and a compassionate heart. That’s how you win people, when they know that you genuinely care about them. You have to earn the right and the privilege to talk about Christ.

Our unsung heroes’ ministry is based on relationships. They are the hands and feet of Christ in this industry. The only way we are going to change Hollywood is to have committed Christians who are willing to live their lives in a Christ-like manner. The good news is I have met people who are doing this. They are our best hope. They have been in a position to witness to several big name actors and industry leaders because they are real and genuine and have put relationship first.

They are not the complaining types. So I’ll do the complaining. My question is, when will the Church decide to support our media missionaries in Hollywood and the entertainment industry? Our unsung heroes lack support from the church in general as well as from their own home churches. They need financial support in order to become established, which sometimes takes up to two years. They need to know that someone cares and that they are behind them and understand what they are doing and the sacrifices they are making. They need a listening ear when times get tough. Some people in the Church cannot understand how they can work in such an ungodly environment. Others don’t understand how they can work on projects that often don’t represent a Christian world view. I think they are missing the point.

I can’t imagine how dark Hollywood could be if our unsung heroes were not there. Here’s one example. Without going into detail, one of our heroes was in a position to remove a rape scene from one of the projects he was working on. He also was in a position to help one of the actors who was going through a rather difficult time in his life. None of this would happen if our unsung hero was not there.

Our media missionaries need our support through prayer as well as financially. Their work is just as genuine as any missionary on any mission field. They are the forgotten. You can’t imagine the types of financial sacrifices or the hardships they go through to be the hands and feet of Christ to this people group. No, they are not living the lifestyle of the rich and famous. It takes several years of hard work to get established in Hollywood. That often means working more than one job as well as relying on unemployment and sometimes going without. Talking to the spouses often gives you a sense of the type of commitments that are necessary to live as a missionary in Hollywood and the entertainment industry.

So, I am asking you to lift them up in prayer although you may not know their names. They are there doing the work and living their lives for Christ in an often hostile and unfriendly environment. Let’s get behind our unsung heroes. They are putting everything on the line for the Gospel.

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