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God…did I hear you right?

by Rodney Marett

In our spiritual walks with God, we have constant conversations with Him. We pray. We worship. We sing. It’s something that He wants and asks us to do…communicate with Him. In this communication, we know what WE are saying but are we always 100% sure what the Almighty is saying to US?

Let me share with you a situation last year where I desperately needed to hear God’s voice clearly. Last August was the fifth year of Gideon, but because of my job as a contractor in Iraq, I was unable to get home to help Lori with the conference. For those not too familiar with the conference, Lori is my wife and co-director. So, Lori ran the conference by herself with lots of help from friends and faculty and she did a great job. After the conference, Lori told me, without hesitation, she said she would never do another Gideon without me. Which at the time gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling, thinking that the conference can’t run without me? So, I promised that I would not leave her again.

Then, in the fall, LifeWay decided that they were backing out as our primary sponsor. Because LifeWay had been our major sponsor for five years, this was a big deal.

So, when LifeWay said no more, Lori was relieved. I think she actually danced a jig, it was quite amusing. She was happy. I’m not sure if you realize how much work goes into putting on a conference like Gideon. Yes, it’s only 5 days but the preparation is the other 360 days. It’s a constant motion kind of thing. Always looking for free advertising… Looking for cheap this and low cost that… Trying to find the right faculty member…Getting the best quality films. And we do this with a very limited budget, especially, since LifeWay is no longer involved. Oh, did I mention that we work on Gideon year around and we don’t get paid. Over the past five years, I think the most that we have ever received was a couple hundred dollars. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, when Lori and I started Gideon, we didn’t start it to make money. We started it to honor God and bring this type of conference to the east coast. So, you get the point that Gideon is a lot of hard work. And it becomes frustrating trying to direct the conference, many different things play into this frustration. I think Lori or I QUIT Gideon about 100 times a year.

With me in Iraq Lori is a single parent for 2/3 of the year. I’m only home 4 months which adds to the stress level of directing Gideon. As for me, I’m split in half, Gideon is like another child. Lots of love and hard work go into it but seeing the seeds that were planted starting to grow is amazing and you sit back with your mouth wide open and just stare at what God is doing in Christian media. So, I did what any good Christian man would do when he is at a crossroads. I got down on my knees and prayed asking God for a sign to either continue with Gideon or move on to something else. At the time, I believed I heard God wanting me to continue running Gideon and I told Lori this. And as she always has, she supported my decision since God told me.

Fast forward to today…I’m really questioning whether I heard God right. We have little to no sponsors. The sponsors that we have talked to seem very interested but in the end, fall short of making the commitment. We’ve signed a contract that we can’t cancel and if we did, we would be out of tens of thousands of dollars. The reason I started working overseas was to help get us out of debt. Unless we bring in 200 students, we’ll be back in debt.

What about the signs from God that led me into this decision? People were calling and emailing saying they wanted to be involved. I felt like God opened the door wide open after our visit to the hotel in Orlando. So, you can see why I’m questioning whether I heard God correctly. Maybe, I’m just inpatient. I know it’s all in God’s timing but He is really cutting it close this time.

The point of this blog is not for your pity or your money. The point is do we really hear what God is saying or are we using what we want in lieu of what God is saying? In this case, I’m not sure.

“Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3

You Are Not Alone!

by Katrina Cook

Have you ever felt like you were the only Christian working in the entertainment field?

Have you ever been on a film set, surrounded by atheists & agnostics and asking God “Why am I here? This just doesn’t seem right.”

Then you sit down for crew lunch and the person sitting across from you, that you just met, pours their heart out to you, right there, in the midst of the crowd. THEN God shows you … “This is why you are here.” The pain that God has brought you through in your life is now something that causes you to relate with the person you only just met. You are able to share your story, in an unconventional setting; to someone who may never step foot inside a church.  THIS is your Mission Field.

I began my company, KatzKasting, in 2001. My entire career as a Casting Director has been built upon personal relationships and referrals. Up until a few years ago, all of my work had been on mainstream productions.  I was knocking, but God had not opened the door to Christian films yet.

While visiting with Erica Lane & Kyle Saylors, the topic of Gideon came up.  I was very interested and they connected me with Lori Marett, who invited me to come facilitate a few workshops for Actors.

What an eye-opening experience for me! I had always felt so alone in the movie business, when it comes to my faith. I would do my job, and share my story with those God put in my path and prompted me to talk to. But other than that, I did not know any other Christians who were actively working in the movie biz.

That first week literally changed my life. Over the 3 years that I have been a part of Gideon, I have met so many new friends. People who are sincere and genuine in their Christian walk. One of the most unique things I have found with this festival is the community meals. Three times a day you all come together to dine in a central location at large round tables perfect for socializing and developing relationships. Sitting with different people each meal allows you to meet Actors, Writers, Filmmakers, Musicians, Singers as well as film students and those who are just starting down the path.  After the film showings, many times the Filmmakers and actors are there to do Q&A’s. In between films you have time for networking and socializing while grabbing popcorn or brownies. Late night talks lead to not much sleep, but no regrets.

In all the Film Festivals that I have attended, the friendships gained from the Gideon far exceed any other.  With face book & social media, you are able to maintain those friendships quite easily and many times see each other again at various other events throughout the year. After all, once you attend Gideon, you become a part of the Gideon Family and no matter where you cross paths, the memories of Gideon create a bond.

As I mentioned previously, I had always felt alone as a Christian in the movie biz, until I came to Gideon. Then my eyes were opened to see that there were many others out there, just like me, following God’s calling with a passion in the Entertainment Industry.  This is when things begin shifting in my life and my career. God began opening doors to work on Christian films, and a year ago in January God laid it upon my heart to start a Prayer & Support Group for those who are Christians working in the Industry within Texas. I was unsure if this would be “popular” in Dallas, as I only knew maybe a handful of believers, but I decided to publicize it through my business, and the response was overwhelming.  We now have an active local chapter of Christian Believers who are working in the Industry who come together to pray, share, support and mentor in Dallas, TX. It’s been a most rewarding thing for me and it fuels our passion as individuals and as a group.

I have had several projects come out of Gideon, whether directly or indirectly.  I have been able to cast  2 features “Season of Miracles” out of Nashville with Dave Moody and “Adrenaline” out of NC with Del Baron, along with a handful of music videos, short films, and invitations to host actor workshops.  Thank you to all who have hired me, referred me, connected me, and prayed for me.

Many Christians are called to work on mainstream projects, so that we can be the light in the darkness. Coming to Gideon helps keep your focus and refuel your passion and purpose.  Regardless of where God calls you to go, we are Missionaries and the movie business is our mission field. Be encouraged and know that you are not alone.