Two Roads

This morning during our outdoor worship experience I mentioned War Room, which was the number one film in the nation going into Sunday. I also mentioned my podcast with more stories from the tour, specifically about my work with Joni and Friends. I preceded the sermon with an illustration from my 2000 mile Northwest Tour.

Then Pastor Jim Warren preached a special message on choices. He addressed Psalm 1 and Philippians 4:8. He shares his testimony of moving from atheism and agnosticism to a saving belief in Jesus Christ. Pastor Linda Warren opens and prays.

This service is available for download free on iTunes, where you can also subscribe to our podcast. Search for "Westchester Chapel" on the iTunes Store.

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War Room: Number One Film in America

I was wowed by War Room! I wasn't the only one. Variety called it: Box Office: Zac Efron Getting Outplayed by Faith-Based ‘War Room,’...

I heard Stephen Kendrick speak at the final San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival, and he said that the Christian film industry is growing up. It may have started by crawling, but it's walking and will start to run and then fly. The Kendrick Brothers are picking up speed!

The acting was superb. I was deeply moved throughout. I checked out the credits of the three leads and expected them to have long and deep filmographies. That's not the case, and that's a credit to Elizabeth Becka, the acting coach, who does a fine job in her principal role in the film as well. I got to teach with her at the Christian Worldview Film Festival Guild, and she had nothing but great things to say about her experience on set.

Miss Clara was LOVED by the robust crowd on Times Square. Karen Abercrombie had been rejected for the role because she was younger than their idea for the role, so she aged herself for the audition! Beth Becka said, "She is brilliant. We prayed over her and the presence of the Holy Spirit was as palpable as I have ever felt it in that little room that day!"
Garry Nation (left) as Polycarp, and
(right) accepting his Best Actor award 
for the role at the 
International Christian Film Festival

Mary Smit was responsible for her film version of Miss Clara. She's done makeup on all the other Kendrick Brothers films (except Flywheel, and there's a funny story behind that) as well as Princess Cut and her masterful work on Garry Nation in the title role of Polycarp.

The writing was also quite sharp. Joyce and I just had a discussion about how some of the prayers were very neatly wrapped up. Pre-believers may find that hard to swallow, but those who have walked with the Lord for years and have seen bigger prayers answered than portrayed in the fiction find it true to life. Of course God is not a magic box. It's when our prayers align with his will and timing that we see these kinds of miracles come to pass, but that's exactly what the script lays out. Joyce pointed out it's a real challenge to make a film about prayer, and if they weren't answered that would be even harder!

Beyond the winsome story arc there are witty lines throughout, and the crowd on Times Square erupted with laughter during this scene...

War Room has already sold close to $10M at the box office, and the weekend hasn't really even started. It's Friday and Sunday's coming! Get a big group together and see it after church! Cast your vote for more films that unapologetically shout the answer to this world's problems: Jesus Christ! As Miss Clara says: Don't leave Jesus out. That's why this world's in the trouble it's in!

In its second weekend, Labor Day Weekend, it moved into the number one position at the box office.


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Joni & Friends

Performing Big Fish Little Worm
at one of the Joni and Friends
Family Retreats.
Photo courtesy of Kristi Pelfer.
I had the privilege of performing for two Family Retreats sponsored by Joni and Friends  at Twin Rocks Friends Camp and Conference Center on August 11 and 18. The camps are set up for families with special-needs children. A short-term missionary is assigned to each camper to give families a chance to engage with others who understand the unique demands of life with disabilities.

They were unforgettable performances, but we knew something special was coming because of the way they were set up.

Almost seven years ago I met Brent Olstad and his family in a restaurant in Medford, Oregon, where I was having dinner with my parents. You can read the story as I posted it here, but what I didn't put there is that Brent thought I was staring at his family like I was a crazy man! That's how Brent introduced me before both of my performances! A sticker on their son Bryce's wheelchair was what caught my maniacal gaze. It was for Wheels for the World, another ministry of Joni and Friends, and I was probably thinking about all the connections I have to Joni Eareckson Tada: When I was ten years old Billy Graham's Worldwide Pictures distributed a movie that told her story: Joni. It impacted me deeply! The film shows how she became a quadriplegic in a diving accident as a teenager, and how she's gone on to be a mouth painter, international speaker, writer (3 million copies of her autobiography in print), and singer. In fact Joni sang the Oscar-nominated song for Alone Yet Not Alone in which I play a land speculator. Her husband pressed her diaphragm so she could hit the high notes!  She personally called our friend, Art Sanborn, who became a quadriplegic in a boogie boarding accident. His story and how he now jogs and does 150 pushups every day is told in his amazing autobiography, Walking Miracle.

Eventually I introduced myself to the Olstads and mentioned another connection to Joni: We have a friend who'd gone to Peru, Poland (and after that encounter Cuba) with Wheels for the World. They bring donated wheelchairs to developing nations and equip people to use them, and Brent had worked with our friend! I'm sure we had many eavesdroppers in that restaurant as we talked excitedly about how the Creator of limbs could work so mightily through those who couldn't use them.

Last October I performed at The Newmark Theatre in downtown Portland, Oregon. It was a fundraising event for Twin Rocks Friends Camp, where I served on summer staff when I was in college. Through the event they were able to raise $415,000 towards their $1.25 million Into the Spotlight campaign to improve current facilities and purchase new equipment and toys in anticipation of their 2018 centennial celebration.

The Olstads at The Newmark
The Olstads also spoke at the Newmark Theater that night, and talked about how the camp has worked to accommodate Joni and Friends.  It was there that the Olstads reconnected with me and invited me to perform at the retreats.

Those performances kicked off my Northwest Tour throughout Oregon and Idaho, during which I drove over 2000 miles. One of the things I did (safely) while driving was record my thoughts on the performances and how they were set up:

In the podcast I mention that our mom read Joni's story to us, but she doesn't remember that! She did read The Cross and the Switchblade and The Hiding Place, but we're pretty sure it was the film that got my attention as a lad.

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Northwest Tour 2015

I had a blast driving over 2000 miles throughout the Pacific Northwest. You can follow my adventures via #NWTour15 on Facebook and Instragram.

Here's the itinerary:

Twin Rocks, OR
August 11
part of Big Fish Little Worm
Twin Rocks Friends Camp
Joni and Friends

Metolius, OR
August 13
The Revelation
Metolius Friends Church

Meridian, ID
August 16, 9:15 and 11am
The Revelation
Meridian Friends Church

Twin Rocks, OR
August 18
part of Big Fish Little Worm
Twin Rocks Friends Camp
Joni and Friends

Ashland, OR
August 23
Big Fish Little Worm
First Baptist Church of Ashland

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Oncoming Truck

This is one of five student films we created at The Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp this summer: "Oncoming Truck."

The excuses we use in evangelism sure sound silly when used to warn people they’re about to be hit by a truck.

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Rich and Joyce Swingle
in Indescribable
I had been praying since the mid-90s that I could sell DVDs of films in which I've performed at performances of my one-man plays. It's so exciting to see that prayer being answered as more and more of the films in which I've performed are becoming available.

For so long I've heard that there's nothing out there in film or television that is appropriate for families or glorifies God. Times have changed and there is now a host of programming that points people to the Lord, and the bar of excellence keeps being raised.  I keep a steadily growing list of titles:

Here are some of the places you can find them:
-Christian Book Distributors (Australia)

If you know of others please post them in a comment below!

Now secular media is not excited about this movement, and very often these films do not have massive advertising budgets. They are relying on word of mouth for distribution.

I hope you'll consider telling others how much you like the Christian films you see. If it's one of my films please visit Click on the film title, and on the page that opens you'll find 1 to 10 stars and a link to write a review. It offers a number of ways to login or create an account. If the film has Facebook and Twitter pages you'll find Like and Follow buttons in the right hand column. Please post your review to your own social media pages as well.

If you have more time, rank and review the film on the following:

Also, Love/Like the film's Twitter and Facebook pages. On Facebook click on the three dots next to "message" and click on "invite friends". Then go through and invite your friends to like the page.

If you're short on time, just leave a review in a comment below and I'll post it when and where I'm able. Be sure to mention the title of the film and at least your first name.

I hope you'll take the time to rate and review!

Thanks so much!!!
Rich and Joyce Swingle

Be Countercultural: Tell the Truth

Joyce illuminates Exodus 20:16 with Acts 5:1-11.

This service is available for download free on iTunes, where you can also subscribe to our podcast. Search for "Westchester Chapel" on the iTunes Store.

If you want to more about starting a relationship with Jesus Christ visit

The Death of Ananias, by Raphael.

Photo courtesy of

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In His Steps for a Soup Kitchen

Enjoying a Milky Mulkey Mocha
with the Mulkeys who inspired it.

On my tour of the Northwest I got to perform The Revelation with musical interludes by Ron Mulkey, who was my youth pastor a few decades back. It was such a joy to work with him again!

The next evening they hosted some poor from the community for a meal. I'd served many such meals during my days as an intern at The Lamb's Theatre in NYC, so I threw on the plastic gloves, apron and a grin. Afterward we invited them to watch In His Steps, in which I play a character who runs a soup kitchen. Right from the opening sequence the diners were talking back to the screen! "That's how it is!" It was telling their story of being kicked when they're down. They traveled with the characters to the challenging finish, closer to the homeless carpenter who died for them. And they were begging for their own copy of the film!

Read more about my adventures on my Northwest Tour.

Choose to Trust God

Pastor Joyce Swingle preached on Exodus 20:15 with Genesis 3:1-7. Pastor Jim Warren opened with John 14:5-7.

Rich Swingle reported on the Salvation Army's TAM Conservatory. Click here for Rich's more full report and to view the student's final performance and the artwork Rich mentioned. Rich mentioned Phillip Telfer and his documentary Captivated: Finding Freedom in a Media Captivated Culture and the Christian Worldview Film Festival. Rich performed an excerpt from Lindsay Bonilla's sketch, "Not-so-living Sacrifices and the Simple Art of Infiltration." (© Copyright 2010 by Lindsay Bonilla, performed and streamed by permission)

Pastor Joyce mentioned our trip to Sochi for the Winter Olympics. You can find out more about that at

"I Surrender All": Words by Jud­son W. Van De­Vent­er, 1896, music by Win­field S. Weed­en, 1896.

Pastor Jim opened by talking about
Chris Tomlin's Worship Night in
America at Madison Square Garden.
Photo by
Associate Pastor Rachel Taylor.
This service is available for download free on iTunes, where you can also subscribe to our podcast. Search for "Westchester Chapel" on the iTunes Store.

Photo courtesy of

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Another fantastic TAMC

I've taught, performed and/or directed at the Salvation Army's TAM Conservatory for 11 of their 15 years. I've only missed it for the Olympics and performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. This year it was just as fulfilling and rewarding as ever!

I got to speak before and after
Princess Cut.
When I realized that Princess Cut would be opening in theaters during the Conservatory I asked if they'd consider setting up a screening at a the theater to which the students could walk. I was ecstatic when they pursued that, but the theater never returned their calls. Instead, with the blessing of producer Paul Munger, they opted to show it outdoors! Since they needed to wait until dark they scheduled 75 minutes of praise and testimonies beforehand. The testimonies went long, which is always a delight! If we'd shown it in a theater we would have needed to leave on time to get to the movie, but we would have missed some amazing prayer requests and stories, including Matt Frye's. He shared that he was the result of his mother being raped when she was 16. Not only did she set aside her hopes and dreams to honor the life within her, she gave him a name which means "Gift of God." Now he's a pastor. What a great fulfilment of that prophetic name he's turned out to be, and what a picture of beauty from ashes our students would have missed had my dream of showing Princess Cut in a theater come to pass. By the way, it's not too late to bring Princess Cut to a theater near you!

One of my favorite events during ‪the Conservatory was handing out free pizza and MetroCards with our Small Group. We had a number of profound encounters, but the best from my perspective was an answer to a very specific prayer. We prayed that we'd be able to introduce someone to the Lord. A woman accepted a MetroCard, and when asked if we could pray for her, she said she'd like the city to become easier. One of our students prayed for her, and our group leader, Chuck Goodin, noticed that she wiped her eye after the prayer. I mentioned to her that she must be new to the city. She said, "Oh, no. I've been here two years." I told her she was most certainly still new to the city. I told her I've lived here 21 years, and she asked when it started to get easier. I told her it was about five years in before it really started to feel like home. Then I asked her if she'd found a church home yet. She said she prioritized getting a job and getting settled into that. She said she was considering First Corinthian Baptist Church, and I asked if I could pray with her about that. She agreed, and I ended up praying the Gospel over her, that the blood Jesus shed for her would cover everything that had come between her and the Lord and that she would grow deeper in her relationship with Him. Pray she receives this and walks in it.

I got to direct a Branch Group with students from the Northern New England and Western Pennsylvania Divisions of the Salvation Army. We staged a piece we hope to perform in Rio during the Olympics. We're building our team, so pray about joining us:

Our title slide by Ryan Livingston
On Friday night we put all of our hard work together, and you can watch the entire finale below. There's a short video highlighting the week at 5:44, and the piece my students developed through sociodrama can be seen at 47 minutes.

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Get your tickets for 40% off!

I'll be teaching for the third time at the Christian Worldview Film Festival Guild next March, and I hope you'll join me!

Here's the montage they put together from this year's festival and guild:

From Media Talk 101 on Vimeo.

They're moving to a new venue, and they need to make the downpayment soon, which means a deep discount if you can reserve your tickets now. The founder, Phillip Telfer explains...

2016 Announcement! from Media Talk 101 on Vimeo.

The Guild and Festival have been an incredible opportunity to network with Christian filmmakers and catch the vision for what the Lord is doing in this powerful and impactful medium.

Hope to see you there!

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