For many years, I have wanted to explore through documentaries how God shapes Christians over the course of a lifetime into the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). I pictured a story of how God uses suffering to shape our character. The Lord directed my thinking towards telling the overall arc of the Campbells’ thirty-year ministry in Québec, focusing on Scott in particular.
In July 2016, I packed my video gear and made the ten-hour drive from Philadelphia to Laval, Québec, a river island bordering Montreal, originally named Île Jésus, The Island of Jesus.
The week was full of testing and stretching – some physical challenges (bad case of poison ivy), some human challenges and certainly behind it all, some spiritual warfare challenges. In fact, early in the week, I was seriously close to packing up and going home! But God was faithful, we persevered and things took shape. We started getting some great interviews and supporting footage. Nancy fed me well (spoiled me, actually!) and, in the end, we all enjoyed a good week together. I felt like I was taking home gold.
Back in Philadelphia, I assembled the main interview segments that told the story and I posted short clips on this website. However, due to other freelance film projects (my bread and butter), it was another year before I started fine-cutting the film. It was daunting! I felt like a mountain climber facing a vertical rock and searching for a crack to hammer the first spike!
In May 2018, with my wife Margaret’s untiring help on the music, I entered the film in the ICVM’s “Crown Awards” film competition under the category “Best Documentary Under $50,000”. The ICVM is the International Christian Visual Media Association, where Christian filmmakers and distributors from all over the world engage and support one another through networking, conferences and partnerships. Soon after my submission, I received the good news that the film was nominated for an award!
In July 2018, I attended ICVM's conference in Nashville; it was filled with rich content and new relationships. My documentary, one of six nominees in its category, was not selected for a medal, however two jurors who watched the film made a point of telling me how much they liked it! While at the conference, I discovered that I needed to revisit some of the musical compositions in the film that had not yet entered public domain. So, Margaret and I returned to researching earlier compositions and we made a few new recordings.
The VERY positive reactions to the film lead Scott and me to believe that it could have a positive impact in the broader North American Church where we are often less accustomed to suffering. This story looks authentically at the collision of our talents and ambitions with the reality of hard spiritual ministry. But it shows what can happen when, broken and surrendered, we “go the distance” with God who transforms us over time into the image of Jesus.
I’d like to hear from you. Like many artists and workers in the kingdom, I need encouragement to keep going. I felt many times like I had to be carried across the finish line!
I value your prayers, of course. And I’d be grateful for your financial support so that more films can be made. As God leads you, please go to the Contributing page on this site.