Category Archives: Doug Peterson

How The Gideon Changed My Life

By Ken Raney

Here’s how the Gideon changed my life…my wife, Deb, and I have been fortunate enough to attend all five Gideon conferences, and every year the Lord has used the Gideon to encourage us as we attempt to use the gifts and talents the Lord has given us, for Him and His Kingdom.

Admittedly, those are high sounding words. But what does that really mean?

We went to the first Gideon at a time when I had given up on ever using the talents I believed God had given me. I was working in the corporate world, making a pretty good living. Our youngest daughter was a junior in high school and we were facing an empty nest within a year. Deb had received an invitation to attend a new conference that was being formed in order to get established authors in front of Christian filmmakers to pitch their stories to be made into movies. Deb wanted to go, but we needed to pay $300 nearly a year in advance. After we prayed about it, I said, “I think you should go, and I want to go, too!”

Months later, as we were getting ready to go to the conference, I told Deb that this was probably the end of my efforts to be an illustrator producing art and stories I hoped would lead young adults to the Lord. “Unless something happens at this conference to change my mind, I give up!”

Well, the Lord broke through to me at the Gideon! Did I get a contract for my book? No. Did I make a connection with publishers that encouraged me with my book? Nope. The only thing that happened is that I met and talked to dozens of people who felt the same way I did. God had given them a gift. They had a passion to reach the world with the message of Jesus Christ through entertainment media. Some were being successful; some were, like me, frustrated and despairing, but all of us shared this common calling.

I left the Gideon with the distinct belief that I had heard the Lord say to me that He had something He wanted me to do. What a refreshing revelation! I was not only encouraged, I was emboldened.

Our second Gideon was just as spiritually refreshing as the first. We heard keynotes and devotions from professionals in media telling how the Lord had guided them to do what they do. Their struggles. Their triumphs. And again, we were greatly encouraged by the presence of the Holy Spirit ministering among us.

In fact, artist Mike Maihack told me near the end of his first Gideon, “This is almost like a spiritual retreat!” He and his wife, Jen (a photographer), loved it.

Three times a day, we would all trek down to the cafeteria and stand in line next to a musician, a make-up artist, a director, an actor or actress. We would talk and learn about each other and our testimonies. I truly believe one of the best things about the Gideon is being able to have lunch with fellow Christian creatives and learn from and about them. Many a friendship and partnership has been forged over breakfast.

About three months before our second Gideon, I was laid off from my job. I had been Advertising Manager for a good-sized manufacturing firm, and they decided they didn’t need me on their payroll any more. The interesting thing is, I was not surprised. In fact, I was somewhat expecting it, because about two years earlier, the Lord spoke to me and told me that I would not be retiring from that company. It seemed he had something else in mind for me.

I came home from work early on February 27, 2009 and announced to my lovely wife, Deborah, that I had been laid off, and that I was fairly certain God did not want me to look for another “real” job!

Needless to say, this was not well received. We decided to pray and set some benchmarks as we tried to discern the Lord’s will. Again, one of the benchmarks was the Gideon.

Deb and I left the second Gideon believing the Lord did indeed have something in mind, but we differed on what that might be. I had received a vision from the Lord for an entertainment website aimed at Christian teenagers. I remember leaving the Gideon and telling Deb, “Wouldn’t it be cool to launch ClashEntertainment.com at the Gideon next year?”

The Gideon had provided a lot of contacts for content, career interviews, and collaborators on Clash. I received much encouragement and help with Clash from fellow Gideonites.

When it came time to start planning for Gideon #3, I contacted Lori Marett, the Gideon co-director, and asked if I could give one of the devotions in the morning. I told her I had something big to announce. She graciously said yes and I spent the next eight months setting up a corporation for Clash, producing the website, and loading content. Clash launched on February 1, 2010. Three months before the third Gideon.

My plan was to get up in front of the 260 attendees of the Gideon and report the amazing things God had done with this new website/ministry.

Instead, I had to get up and tell them that even though I was sure God had called me to do this, and He had confirmed it time and again with signs, and even miracles. At that point Clash was not a success in the way I had hoped. We had hoped to have 100,000 teens visit the site every month and we were only drawing about 5,000. And we had exhausted our advertising budget and really had no hope of attracting any more visitors to the site.

Well, apparently that was a much needed message, because I was swamped after my talk by others who had or were facing the same thing. They felt a call from the Lord, yet things weren’t going like they expected. Again, I left very encouraged and determined to press on with what the Lord had given me to do.

I just checked and as of January 1, 2013 we are at 10,000 visits per month.

The Gideon has had a large number of stories where attendees have achieved success, and in many cases as a direct result of connections made at the Gideon. We marvel at watching the careers of Saylors Brothers Productions, Erica Lane’s music, Erwin Brothers Productions, Ben Avery writing for Kingstone Comics, Eric Wilson, Ray Blackston, and Doug Peterson writing for Kingstone’s Bay Forest Books imprint, and some others whose names can’t be released quite yet.

And me, I’m making a living as an illustrator and graphic designer in the world of Christian Media.

Big names? Yes, the Gideon has had its share of big name media folks: Ted Baehr, Brian Bird, Mitchell Galin, Dallas Jenkins, Michael Joiner, Michael Katt, Paul McCusker, David Nixon, Linda Seger, Nancy Stafford, Phil Vischer, Ken Wales, Muse Watson and many, many others.

This year, as always, Christian films were shown each day of the conference, and many times the Gideon hosted the world premiere of a movie. Producers, directors, and actors answer questions after the film, then we break for some great brownies or cookies, and go back to watch another movie. Many attendees sit around and talk late into the night and then complain about how tired they are the next day.

In the four years Deb and I have attended the Gideon, there has been a noticeable improvement in the quality of the films in terms of production values, cinematography, and acting. More and more, Christian movies are on a par with excellent secular films––every bit as well-done, well-written, and well-acted.

If you are a Christian creative or want to be one, pray about attending the 6th annual Gideon Media Arts Conference and Film Festival, July 12-16, 2013 at the Orlando Airport Marriott, in Orlando, FL. Even seasoned professionals can be inspired and learn new things as they rub shoulders with others in entertainment media. You can sit down to lunch with a singer who has dozens of CDs, and wants to make a movie of an incident in his life in which the Lord saved him from a plane crash, or you can meet a retired U.S. General who was involved in the Black Hawk Down incident, or hear the inspiring testimony of the National Champion Waterski Jumper, or learn about making movies, writing novels, creating graphic novels, all from people whose heart’s desire is to be used by God to reach a lost world for Jesus Christ.

We hope to see you at the Gideon next year.

You Might Be a Clueless Midianite

by Jenny L. Cote

If you’ve been to the fantastic Gideon Media Arts Conference and Film Festival, you might have the impression that a huge team of well-paid event planning specialists with endless resources just whips this conference up in a few weeks with ease. With such impressive faculty, invaluable workshops, impressive screenings, incredible awards, and staggering outcomes of relationships forged at the Gideon, it seems obvious that only hoards of wealthy planners could pull this conference off. If that’s what you think, you just might be a clueless Midianite.

In the incredible story of Gideon (Judges 6-7), the Midianites ran around like screaming little girls, stabbing one another with their swords because they THOUGHT there was a vast army with the baddest weaponry coming to take them out. They THOUGHT they were toast because they had the impression that Gideon and his 20,000 boys were coming down the hill with weapons blazing. They were clueless, but God is oh-so-clever that way. He made the clueless Midianites think that way, not only to give Gideon and Israel victory over their enemies, but to keep the Israelites from boasting that they had achieved the victory. God alone was going to accomplish his purposes and get the glory in the process. Let’s review what REALLY happened.

gideonites (Don’t you just love the way the guy in the middle looked right at the camera when they took this pic?)

The Lord said to Gideon, “The men you have are too many for me to give them victory over the Midianites. They might think that they had won by themselves, and so give me no credit. Announce to the people, ‘Anyone who is afraid should go back home, and we will stay here at Mount Gilead.’” So twenty-two thousand went back, but ten thousand stayed.

Then the Lord said to Gideon, “You still have too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will separate them for you there. If I tell you a man should go with you, he will go. If I tell you a man should not go with you, he will not go.” Gideon took the men down to the water, and the Lord told him, “Separate everyone who laps up the water with his tongue like a dog, from everyone who gets down on his knees to drink.” There were three hundred men who scooped up water in their hands and lapped it; all the others got down on their knees to drink. The Midianite camp was below them in the valley.

16 He divided his three hundred men into three groups and gave each man a trumpet and a jar with a torch inside it. 17 He told them, “When I get to the edge of the camp, watch me, and do what I do. 18 When my group and I blow our trumpets, then you blow yours all around the camp and shout, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon!’”

19 Gideon and his one hundred men came to the edge of the camp a while before midnight, just after the guard had been changed. Then they blew the trumpets and broke the jars they were holding, 20 and the other two groups did the same. They all held the torches in their left hands, the trumpets in their right, and shouted, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” 21 Every man stood in his place around the camp, and the whole enemy army ran away yelling. 22 While Gideon’s men were blowing their trumpets, the Lord made the enemy troops attack each other with their swords. They ran toward Zarethan as far as Beth Shittah, as far as the town of Abel Meholah near Tabbath.

So, bottom line is, Gideon started with 20,000 men and God whittled them down to 300. They weren’t to use spears and swords to defeat the enemy, only trumpets, broken jars and torches. They didn’t even have to engage the enemy in hand to hand combat. God arranged for the enemy to beat themselves up. What the Midianites thought was happening just wasn’t so.

Because I don’t want you to be a clueless Midianite, I’d like to give you a behind the scenes peek of the Gideon so you REALLY know what it takes to pull it off. I asked Lori to give me their list of what goes into the Gideon. Here’s her list:

  • Bathe all our decisions in prayer
  • Consider what the independent Christian film industry needs are and how we can possibly meet those needs
  • Find a location that can host this event
  • Consider the venue and whether it can meet our needs
  • Choose dates that are in agreement with students and faculty and yet, don’t compete with sister conferences and film festivals that are striving to do the same thing as Gideon
  • Bring on staff (accountants, marketing team, operational staff, etc) that are willing to barter services
  • Come up with a budget
  • Find sponsors that can fund us (approx $75,000 for G2013)
  • Create contests that spotlight sponsors and give public opportunities
  • Choose faculty according to budget, their skill set, accomplishments, draw for students, etc
  • Create events that allow networking and professional opportunities
  • Announce details of contests, intern programs, film festival submissions, etc
  • Create workshops that will help all to hone skills, whether students or faculty
  • Market as best as possible with as little $$ as possible
  • Again, bathe all our decisions in prayer

Now, here’s what else REALLY goes on that Lori nor Rodney would never tell you. God doesn’t use a hoard of event planners, he uses TWO selfless servants: Rodney and Lori Marett. Yep, that’s it. And they aren’t paid gobs of cash for their tireless, sacrificial work. They get ZERO and even have to pay for things out of their own pockets when the budget isn’t met. They don’t have endless resources. And it doesn’t take them a few weeks, it takes them a YEAR to plan and bring everything together. Lori has to lay aside her personal work: scripts, books, and writing to give Gideon the attention it needs. Rodney continues to Skype with Lori daily from Iraq and doesn’t miss a beat working on the Gideon while surrounded by Midianites! I want you to fully grasp that the Gideon is a ministry, requiring the blood, sweat and tears of two very special people who could be doing other things. But they KNOW God is using the Gideon to change the world with the projects that are born there, and the people who gain instruction there. I think Lori and Rodney could use a few more fellow trumpet blowers, don’t you? So please contact them if you can come along side to help them with one of the bullets on their list above. At the moment, the greatest need is sponsors as they have a $75K bill to pay. Above all, please pray for Lori and Rodney as they bring Gideon 2013 to us. I guarantee you, their daily cry is: , ‘For the Lord and for Gideon!’”

Let’s do a test to see if you’ve grown from this blog. With the following pictures from Gideon, see if you can determine what’s REAL. Ah-hem…

Is this really Isaiah in cowboy boots?

muse

Well done! It’s actually Muse Watson (NCIS) being a good sport to play Isaiah in a creative writing workshop filmed for DVD curriculum.

muse 2

Let’s try another! Are we Gideonites really cannibals, ready to devour Jayce O’Neal at the amazing Gideon Awards banquet?

stabbing

No! Doug Peterson, Michelle Cox and I were using our newly learned dramatic acting skills on Jayce O’Neal who really pointed the way to God’s plans in a wonderful sermon in our time of Worship. 

jayce

One more! Is Michelle Cox really not responsible for Jenny Cote?

 jenny michelle

Well…she asked me to write this blog, so there you go.