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The importance of America returning to Christian principles and Traditional Family Values

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God’s Not Dead

Interview with Paul Kwo of God’s Not Dead 2


After the first God’s Not Dead movie release, I decided to reach out to some of the actors, hoping some might be willing to submit to an email interview I could post to my blog. Several consented! Paul Kwo was one of the actors who readily agreed. He appears in God’s Not Dead 2, and this time, I asked questions prior to the new movie’s release.

Are you thrilled to once again be involved in a God’s Not Dead Movie?

I’m absolutely thrilled to be a part of another God’s Not Dead movie. It’s a wonderful pleasure to work with amazing people who are committed to the work of God around the world in the arts. I had a wonderful time in Little Rock, Arkansas shooting the movie and I look forward to seeing it in theaters when it premieres.

On what date will it release?

God’s Not Dead 2 will be released on April 1, 2016 in theaters everywhere. Check out godsnotdeadthemovie.com for a complete listing of theaters that will be showing the movie.

Please remind my readers of the role you played and are playing in this second installment of God’s Not Dead.

I play the part of Martin Yip. He was a foreign student from China studying in the US at the University where the first story took place. At the end of the first movie, he was moved by the Spirit of God through the actions of the lead actor and decided to dedicate his life to God. This second installment of God’s Not Dead deals with Martin Yip’s new reality of being a Christian in a family of non-believers. He is now confronted with new issues that he has to overcome and decide for himself what actions to take next.

How many other actors/actresses who played in the first will be in the second as well?

From what I know we have 5 actors/actresses returning from the first movie to the second.

What new faces should we be watching for in God’s Not Dead 2?

Everyone! There are a lot of new amazing talents that have joined the film this time around and they are all great. There are just too many to list. So check out the movie’s website for detailed information about who’s in the new one.

How was it working with these folks on this film?

I got to work mostly with Hayley Orrantia in this film since those are the scenes I had. She was wonderful and super fun to work with. Of course I had scenes with some of the returning cast members and as always, they are awesome people to work with. The whole production has always been fun and positive, so it’s just a pleasure to work at.

How has appearing in the God’s Not Dead movies impacted your personal life and lives of those you personally know?

I have had a few people come up to me randomly in person or online thanking me for my work on this movie. It really gave me the encouragement I needed to know that this movie did have a real impact in people’s lives. That’s the most important part of doing this project. It’s good to know that something I did had a direct positive impact in so many people’s lives and gives me the strength to continue on my journey.

Many people say that when movies come out in extra parts, that none compare to the first one.  Will viewers find that God’s Not Dead 2 is as good as the first?

Unlike a lot of Franchises, God’s Not Dead took a slightly different route. Having new main cast members and a story that’s not bogged down by the first one, it gives it a really fresh take on the issue the movie franchise addresses. I believe God’s Not Dead 2 is different enough and addresses a very different part of the topic that viewers will find it just as exciting as the first one.

Are you working on any other projects at this time?

I’m working on my own Rock album. The single will be out sometime in late March, and the rest of the album will follow around late April. Be sure to follow me on twitter and instagram @paulkwo, or join my facebook fan page facebook.com/paulkwofanpage to get up-to-date with what I’m doing and how to get a copy of my new album. You can also visit paulkwo.com to learn more as well.

I would like to thank Paul Kwo for his willingness to share about this upcoming film. Make plans now to attend God’s Not Dead 2!

Are Christians to Blame?


A couple of Sunday’s ago, a sweet little first grade girl approached me and asked a question that caught me off-guard.  After I taught a lesson in Children’s church on the Prophet Elijah, she tugged me on the arm and asked,

“Pastor Bryan, did that story really happen, or is that just a Bible Story?”

This little girl posed a pressing question, one that weighs on the minds of many in the world today. Can the Bible be trusted?

I’d expect that question in pockets of people groups living in remote jungles, but hearing that question from a youngster in the heart of the Bible belt surprised me.  But I guess it shouldn’t.  Last summer, a mission team canvassed the city in which our Church ministers and discovered that 75% of the community was unchurched.  Seventy-five percent!!  That means 3 out of every 4 people we see each day fail to darken the doors of a church on Sunday.  The seventy-five percent in our town matches the estimated number statewide in Missouri claiming no church affiliation or relationship with Christ.

And we wonder why a culture war rages around us.

Nashville-based Lifeway research asked Protestant pastors the following question:

“Many Christian leaders have talked about society being in a culture war. Regardless of how you feel about that terminology, how would you explain the current situation?”

Seven in 10 say Christians are losing or have lost the culture war.

Though Christians complain about the militant homosexual agenda or abortion rights activists, the true battle waging is for the heart of man.  When 75% in the state of Missouri confess no relationship with God, why should we expect that same group to act in a godly manner?  Even though I address political issues regularly and believe Christians should vote for those who espouse Biblical values, I’m not naïve enough to believe the culture war will be won in the privacy of a voting booth.  The only way to reverse our nation’s course is to see America return to the God of it’s founding.

Where do we start?

The Church.

The Bible shares the recipe for the healing of a nation.  II Chronicles 7:14 says,

“If My people who are called by My Name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek My Face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, will forgive their sin, and heal their land.”

Notice God addresses His people, not the atheists, agnostics, or the pagans.  Sometimes we as Believers moan and groan about our nation’s path, but is it quite possible we find ourselves “going to hell in a hand basket” because of the lukewarm nature of our Christianity?  According to God’s Word, that’s so.

If we care about the future of America, we must seek God humbly in prayer and repent of those behaviors we mislabel as “little” sins.  When Christians clean up their act, then God promises blessings.  So, America’s greatness, or lack thereof, hinges not upon the next radical policy handed down from godless politicians, but upon a Christian’s willingness to bow the knee to a Holy and Righteous God.  Are you ready for real “hope and change?”

Let us pray….

God’s Not Dead, Still Making a Splash


People continue to flock to see “God’s Not Dead.”  Every few days I notice someone’s Facebook update reminding all of their “friends” of the very fact…God’s Not Dead.  Certainly, some probably wonder why their making such a statement.  If they ask, tell them to see the movie!  It’s fantastic!  But why?  Why has the film made such a splash in the shadow of Hollywood blockbusters?  I speculate it’s because of the current political climate in America.

Almost daily, stories surface of people accusing Christians of bigotry, even filing suits against those refusing to sanction their lifestyle.  Take for instance, the story of Elane Photography.  In 2006, Elaine and her husband were asked to photograph a lesbian couple’s commitment ceremony.  Elaine respectfully declined, citing her conservative Christian beliefs as the reason.  Case closed, right?  Wrong!

The lesbian couple secured another photographer at a lower rate, yet still filed a complaint accusing Elane Photography of “sexual orientation discrimination.”

The Human Rights Commission of New Mexico found Elane Photography guilty and ordered them to pay almost seven thousand dollars to the two plaintiffs.  The decision was appealed to the New Mexico Supreme Court.  These judges upheld the ruling.  One judge in his concurring opinion wrote:

Elane Photography “is now compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives,” as “the price of citizenship.”

Did anyone else just feel the rumble of the Founding Fathers rolling in their graves?

This week, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case.  The New Mexico Supreme Court ruling stands.  It appears that America’s barreling down a road which trumpets the freedom of the First Amendment as long as one sides with the Liberal and godless agenda.  Those who yell and scream for tolerance exhibit the most intolerance of all.

As I visited with a group of men this morning, another Pastor predicted that soon churches would be required to host same sex marriages and pastors would be required to officiate…whether they believe the union is biblical or not.  Some laugh at the idea and say that will never happen.  Christians said the same thing about removing prayer from school and legalizing abortion on demand.  Almost 43 million aborted babies later and look where we find ourselves…In the middle of another cultural war with the soul of America at stake.

God’s Not Dead resonates because the movie casts a positive light on Christianity.  For once the Believer isn’t cast as a dopey, idiotic Bible thumper.  The movie conveys the story of real life Christians making a mark for Christ in a world filled with antagonists.  The film encourages people to stand for Christ when no one else will.  Sure, that’s a lonely place to be, but God blesses faithfulness.  And God will bless Elane Photography.  I don’t know how or in what capacity, but God will honor their stand.

As Christians we can expect persecution and to lose an occasional battle, but as one evangelist once said, “We’ve already won the war.”

Everyone hold on to Jesus.  The ride’s gonna get bumpy.

 

Interview with “God’s Not Dead” Actor, Benjamin Ochieng


My Church family attended opening night of “God’s Not Dead,” and I can honestly say it’s one of my favorite movies of all time. I posted a blog about the film, a synopsis and some personal thoughts, but then I decided to contact some of the actors/actresses and see if they’d agree to an email interview for my blog. The first to graciously accept was Paul Kwo, who played “Martin Yip” in the movie.  (For those familiar with the movie, he played the foreign student and the first to stand and proclaim, “God’s Not Dead.”)  Then Cory Oliver agreed to answer a few questions.  (She played “Mina” the Professor’s romantic interest.)  The Trisha Lafache agreed to my inquiries.  (She played “Amy” the Reporter.) Now I’m excited to share with you my fourth email interview.  This time you’ll be hearing from Benjamin Ochieng who played “Reverend Jude.”

Tell us a little about yourself.  Where are you originally from?  College you attended?  Married?  Kids? etc.  Things you like to do aside from acting….

I am originally from Nairobi, Kenya where I was born and raised.  I am married to Special Education Coordinator, Mrs. Elizabeth Onyango.  I have three Kids: Ida Onyango-Longomba, 30; Mary Onyango, 20 and Evelyn Onyango, 17.  Ida has given me a grandson, Andrew Longomba.

I attended California State University, Stanislaus in Turlock, California where I ran track and graduated in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science.  I then moved to Los Angeles to pursue Music and Acting.  I joined a Christian Funk-Rock Band called THE PASSING (changed name to P.F.O.)

When did you become a Christian?

I became a Christian in 1975 when I gave my life to the Lord after American Missionaries from Southern Baptist Church came to Kenya to spread the gospel.

How did you come to play a part in “God’s Not Dead?”  And which role did you play?

I auditioned for the role of Reverend Jude and got the part.

Is this your first experience with acting?  If not, what other roles have you played?

This is not my first experience with acting. I have done several other movies and TV shows: You can find the entire list at the following link:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1335173/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

How did you enjoy working with the leads Shane Harper and Kevin Sorbo?

SPOILER ALERT

I saw Shane Harper and Kevin Sorbo on my last day of working on the project.  That’s when we shot the scene where the Atheist Professor dies.  They were very cool people, nice approachable and fun to be around.

 Can you relate to the character you played in the movie?

The character I played in the movie fortunately for me was a mirror image of who I am: funny, always smiling, easy to get along with, somewhat crazy etc.

What was your favorite part of “God’s Not Dead?”

The whole cast and crew and especially so the Pureflix owners: Russell, Michael, David. I am not sure I met the fourth one. The director was very down to earth too. They were terrific people and made the work so much easier.

Are you surprised by the support for the film on its opening weekend?

I was not surprised because the ground work and grassroots work that went into it paid off dividends. The Christians came out in force to support their own. They realized it was about time we all woke up from complacent Christianity to proactive Christianity. It was the only way we would be able to counter the aggressiveness of the atheists and their propaganda.

Are you currently working on any other films or television productions?

The Film DEFAULT directed by Simon Brand starring David Oyelowo is out now doing the Festival Circuit. I play the role of Edward, the pilot of a plane carrying American Journalists that gets hijacked by Somali pirates.

What is your favorite faith based film?

The Ten Commandments and now God’s Not Dead.

What lesson/lessons did you learn in the filming of “God’s Not Dead?”

Hard work pays. I have never worked so hard for a movie role like I did this one.  And I believe that the actors put in a lot of hard work. Their work clearly shows in the movie. Also, that faith-based movies are capable of going toe to toe with the big block-buster studio movies with A-list actors and make a difference.

What impact do you believe this movie will have world wide?

This movie will have a positive impact world wide by opening more doors to a wide acceptance of the genre.  Also, the existence of eternity after death will become real to more people prompting many to question where they will spend theirs and hopefully make the right choice.

What feedback have you personally received about the movie?

I have received great positive feedback everywhere I have gone. Recognition and words of “good job on the movie” everywhere I have gone.

How do you hope “God’s Not Dead” ministers to people?

This movie minister’s to people in the way the story was told and shot. It does a great job of setting up the reason for salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ in a gentle, subtle manner that compels the unbelievers to question their position. It’s not presented in a pummeling manner which usually turns potential converts off.

Thanks again to Benjamin Ochieng for taking time to let us get to know him a bit better!  You can follow Benjamin on Twitter @bochieng

God is good.  All the time.  All the time.  God is good.

 

Movie Review: God’s Not Dead


Movie Overview: God’s Not Dead

College freshman, Josh Wheaton, reported for first day of classes, eyeing a future degree in law.  A committed Christian, Josh expected to receive a higher education, not a tongue lashing, from his atheist philosophy professor about the first year student’s Christianity.

During his first lecture, Professor Radisson chided any professing belief in the antiquated God of the Bible.  To kick-off the semester in Philosophy 101, Professor Radisson instructed the pupils to write “God is Dead” on a sheet of paper and turn it in, signed.  With little or no forethought, the students, eager to please, signed the declaration….Well, all but Josh Wheaton.

The Professor expected absolute obedience, and when Josh refused to sign the statement denying his faith, Radisson assigned Josh the daunting undertaking of proving God’s existence.

The question looms, will Josh stand resolved as Daniel in the Old Testament or compromise his faith to secure a passing grade in the mandatory class?

Brief Review

The movie captures a predicament devout Christians across America are facing.  As the credits rolled, cases argued/defended by the Alliance Defense Fund revealed that “persecution” of Christian students on university campuses is not isolated.  In fact, as our culture continues to embrace a more tolerant view of lifestyles the Bible specifically lists as sinful, the pressure to live wholly committed to Christ will become increasingly difficult.  As Christianity becomes more and more unpopular, the students who dare refuse to participate in spiritually compromising lessons and assignments face potential retribution from professors who see themselves as “god” in their own schools of higher learning.

Josh Wheaton, played by Shane Harper of “Good Luck, Charlie” fame, delivers a powerful and believable performance.  His internal debate over compromising or “swimming upstream” is palpable.  At one point, my wife leaned over and whispered, “I feel so nervous for him.”  My heart raced with the same anxiety.  Fantastic acting in this young man’s fledgling career.

Kevin Sorbo plays the part of Professor Radisson, the atheist.  He, too played his role powerfully, causing me to be nervous whenever an encounter with Josh was imminent.

This film delivers a timely message and definitely deserves a rating of “family friendly.”  I can’t imagine Willie and Korie Robertson (Duck Dynasty) making a cameo appearance in anything but…can you?

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