I am God’s Help: Actor John Corbett

I am God’s Help: Actor John Corbett

I am God’s Help: Actor John Corbett

John Corbett with Rev. Michael Spurlock, whom he portrays in the new movie All Saints. Corbett says Spurlock shared with him what it was like to literally hear God’s voice: “He was just walking in a field—it was nighttime—thinking about the future of the church and the Karen people, and he said he heard a voice as plain as the voice he was talking to me in that gave him instructions on how to make all this work out by turning the field into a garden,” Corbett says. “He said it wasn’t a voice he’d ever heard before. It wasn’t a voice inside of his head. It was a voice talking to him—a man’s voice.”

Best known for his roles in Northern Exposure and My Big Fat Greek Wedding, actor John Corbett is no stranger to the plight of refugees revealed in his latest film All Saints. He grew up the only child to a single mother who worked for minimum wage in a hospital supply room, living in a two-bedroom apartment in West Virginia with a host of neighbors from Vietnam. Immigrants, the neighbors didn’t speak English, worked in local restaurants and often fit 15 people in an apartment the same size as his. Corbett still recalls the concern he felt toward their struggle to be accepted and to succeed. In All Saints, Corbett portrays Michael Spurlock, an Episcopal pastor who risks his family’s future to support a group of Burmese refugees when his church is on the verge of financial collapse. Based on a true story, Corbett says the film is an example of the kind of compassion he has strived for his entire life.

As Corbett navigated the diverse neighborhood of his youth, he also attended a small Catholic school for grades 1 through 12. “We went to church every day; we had to wear little dress pants and shoes and white shirts and clip on ties,” he remembers. “Becoming an altar boy gave me a work ethic in life. At a young age, I had to be at the rectory at a certain time getting my vestments on, preparing things.” After high school, Corbett moved to California to join his father in work as a welder and a boilermaker. When an injury forced him off the job, he enrolled at Cerritos College, located between Los Angeles and Long Beach. “I coincidentally met some young actors, right out of high school, who were goofing around in the cafeteria one day. We shot the bull for about half an hour, and they invited me to see their improv class. That was 1984, and I had never seen anything like it. I decided to drop all my other classes and only sign up for acting classes,” he remembers. A few months later, Corbett had the lead role in “Hair” on campus, singing and dancing on stage as his father sat stunned in the audience. “He couldn’t believe his welder son was up there doing a shuffle.”

In All Saints, actor John Corbett, portrays Rev. Michael Spurlock who welcomes refugees from Burma despite the financially failing state of his Tenn. country church. In this scene from the movie, Spurlock is seen with refugee Ye Win (portrayed by Nelson Lee), who served as a spokesperson for the refugees who were striving for a fresh start in America and needed healthcare, education, clothing and food.

From 1986 to 1990, Corbett was hired for 50 national commercials. His first speaking role was as Karen Arnold’s boyfriend on Season 1 of The Wonder Years. He went on to roles as Chris Stephens in Northern Exposure, Aidan Shaw in Sex and the City and Ian Miller in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. He also started a country rock band that occasionally plays at WorkPlay in Birmingham. Corbett credits God’s providence with his transition from the steel factory to the stage. Corbett’s relationship with God today is heavily weighted in prayer. He prays for compassion. He prays for the lost, for other people’s souls. He prays to be less judgmental. “I try to be a good person and have forgiveness and have compassion and tolerance and just really try to listen,” he says. “Listening is big with me. That means letting people finish their sentence and not be in a rush to tell my story.”

The story of All Saints, however, is one he is quick to tell. After trading in his corporate sales career to become a pastor, Michael Spurlock had one assignment from his superiors: close the quaint country church in Smyrna, Tenn. for good, sell everything on the property and try to keep losses to a minimum. However, a group of Burmese refugees approached him for help, and Spurlock decided to sideline the Bishop’s instructions and turn the property into a working farm to pay the church’s bills and feed its newest people. Contemplating what it means to obey God’s voice when success isn’t guaranteed, the film is more of a “contemporary drama” than an argument for the Christian faith, says Rich Peluso of Affirm Films. It’s about people of faith living out ordinary circumstances in extraordinary ways.

John Corbett stars alongside Christian comedian Chonda Pierce as well as Cara Buono from the television series “Stranger Things” and Gregory Alan Williams from Hidden Figures, in the movie All Saints, in theatres August 25.

If there’s any intentional message for All Saints viewers, Corbett says, it’s a simple directive to help others. “A church’s responsibility might be to care for the poor, but the church is also in business sometimes, and if the church is losing money they have to shut their doors. That’s just the way it goes. But we are human beings, and we don’t have to shut our doors.” Comparing Spurlock to the Bethlehem innkeeper the night Jesus was born, he continues: “When the Karen (pronounced kuh-REN) [refugees] showed up at Michael’s door, it would have been so easy for him to say I care about you and I love you and I’m sorry, but the inn is closed. The guy who ran the inn when Joseph and Mary showed up, who knows maybe [he] was a nice guy, maybe he did have a full house. Michael could have done the same thing and he didn’t.”

As revealed in the film, Spurlock’s vision was not without serious complications. Weather, machinery and manpower problems all threaten to ruin his plan to save his church and give hope to the area’s refugees. But it’s the realization that a community can come together to help others that matters most. Corbett’s favorite line from the film is when Spurlock tells his son, Atticus, that he will just have to pray for God to help the Karen. “Atticus says, ‘but aren’t you God’s help?’ I like that because he’s so right. Yeah, I am God’s help,” Corbett says. “That line, every time I read it, it just sort of made me smile.”

  • Camille Smith Platt 

 

Photo Credit: Courtesy AFFIRM Films

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Photo Fun Baptism

“Jesus Loves the Little Children”

Rev. J. Mark Kuehnert baptizes Julia Lauren Kuehnert, daughter of Ali and Justin Kuehnert, at The Lutheran Church of Vestavia Hills.

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Showering God’s Love

Showering God’s Love

Mission Makers

Mountain Brook Baptist Church recently hosted a Sav-a-Life shower for expectant moms and dads. Learn more about how you can volunteer to help with a similar event at www.savalife.org.

Is your church or organization looking for a unique opportunity to share the Gospel? Consider partnering with Sav-A-Life Vestavia to shower God’s love on expectant parents. About eight times a year, this faith-based organization hosts baby showers which include presents, cake, Good News and God’s love.

Leading up to each shower, Sav-A-Life invites expectant women to come to a series of classes to learn about birth and motherhood. Fathers are invited to participate as well. These classes are diverse, ranging from traditional methods to doulas. Their purpose is to give each expectant mother a range of ideas and options to consider pursuing. Any expectant mother can attend the classes. Everyone who completes the class can participate in a group baby shower. Sav-A-Life’s ministry partners, including area churches, host these parties. The expectant mothers and fathers, regardless of background, spiritual walk or socio economic status, are showered with baby toys and necessities so that they may experience the love of Christ. No one asks or expects anything in return. “My favorite part is seeing the new moms and dads at the showers overwhelmed at the outpouring of love from complete strangers. These are people who are giving purely out of love with ‘no strings attached,’ ” explains Janice Johnson, with Sav-A-Life’s Family Education Services. During the shower, the host ministry has the opportunity to present the Gospel. This part of the shower does not have a set protocol or structure. Rather, every gathering sees a unique presentation of the Gospel as each ministry partner shares the love of Jesus in its own way. Because of these volunteers and gift-givers, each expectant parent is able to feel the love of Christ, and touch the hands and feet of Jesus. If your organization is looking for a new opportunity to share the Gospel, consider Sav-A-Life’s baby showers. Learn more at www.savalife.org or call Janice Johnson at 205-979-0302.

  • Abby Holcombe

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Serve Christ by Serving His Church

Serve Christ by Serving His Church

Mission Makers

70 churches over 37 years built by hundreds of volunteers to reach thousands for the sake of the Gospel = Builders for Christ (BFC).

Karen Denenberg (center) from Meadow Brook Baptist nails roof shingles during Builders for Christ project in Gatlinburg, Tenn.

By the end of August 2017, eleven Baptist churches and organizations from the Birmingham area will have sent Builders for Christ (BFC) teams to Gatlinburg, Tenn. to help reconstruct the Worship Center and Family Life Center of Roaring Forks Baptist Church. Both buildings were destroyed in the fires that swept through the area last year. “It’s almost like a family reunion,” says Kellyann German, 4-year BFC veteran (Meadow Brook Baptist). Overall, teams will have come from 76 churches in 22 states bringing more than 1,800 volunteers including newcomers, seasoned veterans, families, teenagers, and couples. Some are skilled (e.g. home builders, engineers, architects) but the vast majority is non-skilled laborers (e.g. nurses, teachers, salespersons, homemakers). They come for one week to offer Kingship efforts nailing roof shingles, installing sheetrock, designing ductwork, sawing boards, and cutting metal supports. Regardless of the task, all come with willing hearts to serve and sweat.

Construction takes place between late May and mid-August every year. However, much planning has occurred earlier in the year through an extensive screening process. This year’s site selection was Gatlinburg, Tenn. Last year it was Greenfield, Wis. BFC has been all over the country building churches. “Every trip we encounter churches with different ministries and different needs,” says German. “This year’s trip was unusual in that it followed a disaster. Roaring Forks had an involved transportation and feeding ministry for children and that ministry needed to be able to continue.” German’s husband Brandon, a 6-year veteran, said he especially enjoyed doing HVAC because it taught him a lesson in the concept of serving. “HVAC is an unseen task; it is the epitome of servanthood to me.” Numerous others, when asked what they like, simply said it is a blessing.

Mike Foster from First Baptist Church Birmingham cutting support structures in the rebuilding of Roaring Forks Baptist, Gatlinburg, Tenn.

Lawrence Corley, founder of Builders for Christ and member of Brookwood Baptist, Birmingham, Ala. proudly admits, “I’ve never met a single person unless they were too feeble (he chuckles) who couldn’t help with construction.” Ken Howell (Meadow Brook Baptist) reinforces Corley’s statement. “You don’t have to be skilled to be of great help.” Corley quickly adds that volunteer cooks play a significant role. They feed volunteers three times a day with a grand slam breakfast, a sandwich/fruit lunch combo, and a dinner equivalent to a Thanksgiving meal. Between 300-500 meals/day are prepared throughout the fifteen weeks of construction.

“Serve Christ by serving His church,” that’s what the Germans say they do now every summer and urge others to do the same. For details on joining the mission visit www.baptistbuildersforchrist.org.

Karen Allen 

Author of Confronting Cancer with Faith, www.confrontingcancerwithfaith.com

 

 

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The Cost of Discipleship

The Cost of Discipleship

Encouraging Word

In Matthew 16:24, Jesus speaks of the cost (requirements) of Christian discipleship. It says, “. . . If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Salvation is free to us. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” However, to be a Christ follower will cost you. Cost is defined as a price paid to acquire, accomplish or maintain anything. Jesus said to be His disciple (student, follower), there are three requirements: deny self; take up your cross; and follow Christ.

  • To deny self means to “say no” to selfishness and stop worshipping self. It also means to exercise discipline; to re-evaluate desires. It is okay to deprive yourself of self- gratification that can be harmful.
  • Next, Jesus says “to take up your cross.” The cross signified sacrifice, suffering and death. This is a dying to sin’s control, spiritual bondage and influence. Because of Christ’s payment, we have been delivered from the penalty and power of sin. Sin is no longer our master. Romans 6:6-7 says, “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.”
  • Then Jesus says “follow me.” This means to submit; to surrender to God’s will; to yield to God’s direction; to follow Christ’s example. We need to stay focused and be faithful as a “Christ follower.”

In Luke 14:28 Jesus says to calculate (consider) the cost of discipleship. Are you willing to pay the price to follow Christ?

-Tony Cooper 

Celebrating 27 Years of Service as Exec. Director, Jimmie Hale Mission

www.jimmiehalemission.com

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Celebrating Everyday Heroes for LIFE: Herb Lusk

Celebrating Everyday Heroes for LIFE: Herb Lusk

City Scene

Former NFL tailback, Reverend Dr. Herbert H. Lusk, II has been the Senior Pastor of Greater Exodus Baptist Church in Philadelphia since 1982 and the church has grown from 17 members to over 2,000 under his leadership. Lusk was known as the “praying tail back” in the NFL and was recognized in ESPN and NFL Films documentaries as the first NFL player to kneel and pray after scoring. When he was asked what he was doing he simply replied, “I was just giving thanks!”

Former NFL player Herb Lusk restores hearts with hope through his Crisis Pregnancy Center in the City of Brotherly Love. Better known as the tailback of the Philadelphia Eagles, he was the first to kneel in the end zone and give thanks to God for scoring. He eventually left the NFL to start giving back and helping those in need in his community.

Tuesday September 26 Lusk will be in Birmingham to share about his life’s mission to help women, men and babies seeking help in a world turned upside-down and to support local efforts in our community to do the same. Lusk will be the keynote speaker at the Sav-A-Life Shelby County annual fundraising banquet, “Celebrating Everyday Heroes for Life.” The Center located in Pelham restores hope to those in need, and the free event will shed light on what is happening both in Philadelphia and our local area. Learn how the Center is working to change hearts and minds and help the most helpless in our society: unborn babies and their families.

Sav-A-Life Shelby’s mission is to develop a culture of life where abortion is unnecessary and undesirable in Shelby County, Alabama while offering the hope of the Gospel. Since the opening of its doors in 1985, thousands of lives have been saved. The non-profit center provides free and confidential pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, abortion information, pregnancy/parenting classes, and material assistance to empower women and men to make a life-affirming decision.

The banquet will be held at 7 p.m. September 26 at the new Noah’s Event Venue, 2501 International Park Place, Hoover. The event is free but seating is limited and reservations are required. For tickets visit www.savalifeshelby.org or call Sav-A-Life Shelby, 205-664-1667. †

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Stay the Course with John Croyle

Stay the Course with John Croyle

Bringing Out the Winner in Your Child

“Don’t get to high. Don’t get too low. Just stay the course.”

This is one of our mottos at Big Oak Ranch. We are not saying don’t get excited when something good happens, nor are we saying don’t be sad when something bad happens. We are simply saying that things seem to run so much better if we maintain a consistent balance on our emotions.

Every time I’ve gotten too excited over something or gotten overly frustrated about an issue, it always seems to have a negative ripple effect. In every voyage of every ship, there will be calm waters and there will be difficult storms. How we handle these extremes in our lives reveals our trust in the Lord as the Captain of our ship. He has given us control of the steering wheel, but He is the master navigator of our lives. You and I as Christians cannot honor the Lord when we lose control of our emotions over things that are completely out of our control, or even worse when things are in our control.  A healthy emotional balance is the key to consistency in our walk with the Lord.

Greatness, or the lack of it, is oftentimes revealed during life’s losses. May we be found to be stable in all our ways – win or lose.  Every great man I’ve ever known has had control of his emotions. Let’s work at being great!

John Croyle, Founder, Big Oak Ranch 

Author, Who You Are/Defying the Circumstances that Define Us, Bringing Out the Winner in Your Child, The Two Minute Drill to Manhood and Raising a Princess, www.bigoak.org.

 

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Best Books: Rev. Michael Spurlock & Jeanette Windle

All Saints

Written by Rev. Michael Spurlock and Jeanette Windle, the book, All Saints, will be available in September at Sanctuary Christian Books and Gifts, Alabaster. A movie based upon the true story will release at the end of August. See page 16 for more details.

Rev. Michael Spurlock’s first assignment as a new pastor was about as bad as it gets. All Saints Episcopal Church was down to 25 members and in financial stress. Debt. Division. Despair. These are toxic words for a church, and All Saints was dying. Then, nine months later, three travelers from the east showed up to worship Jesus, and everything changed. Hope was born. A holy family was created. New life began to stir.

All Saints (Bethany House, $14.99) is the true story of how three Sunday visitors were used by God to bring new life to a struggling Episcopalian church in Smyrna, Tenn. By welcoming the immigrants from war-torn Myanmar into their church, the congregation found a new mission in God’s Kingdom. With the influx of seventy-five Burmese refugees, All Saints became diverse rather than divided, a community of faith mirroring the multi-cultural kingdom of God. There were struggles, but there was also one blessing after another as God worked among them in wondrous ways.

All Saints reflects God’s design to break down ever wall and division which violates the unity of his kingdom. Jesus is our peace, and he has made all groups into one by reconciling us not only to God, but also to one another. In Jesus we become fellow citizens, brothers and sisters in God’s family, one body united in our faith. All Saints reminds us that when we see our neighbor as God sees them, God will do incredible things among us.

 

Jeanette Windle

Rev. Michael Spurlock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Darrel Holcombe, Owner
Sanctuary Christian Books and Gifts
Colonial Promenade, Alabaster

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The Proven Cure for the Drug Epidemic: Alabama Teen Challenge

The Proven Cure for the Drug Epidemic: Alabama Teen Challenge

Special Feature

presented by Alabama Teen Challenge Adult Men’s and Women’s Centers

Alabama Teen Challenge offers both men and women a one-year Christ centered residential program to help them learn how to live drug free lives.

As a ministry that reaches out to the community and seeks to educate teenagers and adults about the dangers of drugs, Teen Challenge is the oldest, largest, and most successful program of its kind in the world. Established in 1958, the ministry has grown to more than 1100 centers in 118 countries. Along with education efforts, Teen Challenge centers in Alabama offer: a one-year residential program for adults, designed to help men and women learn how to live drug-free lives. Teen Challenge staff members encourage the residents to embrace the Christian faith, with the belief that when they do, their lives will be transformed and they will find true meaning and purpose. Residents follow strict rules and discipline. All residents adhere to a daily schedule that includes chapel, Bible classes and job skill training. Many men and women have experienced the transforming power of Jesus Christ by way of their Teen Challenge encounter. For those of us at Teen Challenge, Brother David Wilkerson’s enduring legacy will always be that he founded this ministry for the addicted, the hurting and the disenfranchised.

To learn more about admission to the program, providing financial support to the ministry or to schedule a Teen Challenge speaker for your school, church, youth group or civic group, call 205-763-0909. Visit www.alatc.org. Teen Challenge is a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, Alabama Assoc. of Non-profits and Amazonsmile. †

Alabama Teen Challenge, Adult Men’s and Women’s Centers

205-763-0909

P.O. Box 270

Lincoln, AL 35096

www.alatc.org
“Thank God for Teen Challenge.” Rev. Billy Graham

“Not only does Teen Challenge help our young people deal with their substance abuse but it also gives our kids something to live for- a relationship with God, a healthy self-esteem, and a direction in their lives that finally leads somewhere.” President Ronald Reagan

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