I Dreamed I Was Free tells the story of Quaker abolitionist John Woolman, who spoke against slavery a century before our Civil War. In his introduction Jim Hullinger mentions knowing me in the days I was writing the second draft.
I happened to be working on a couple of films in Canada when Unplannedwas released in theatres there. Several cast and crew went to see it, and the only seats we could find together were on the front row! The day before it had sold out.
It was number one on Amazon before it was released because of all the presales!
Joyce and I saw Unplanned on Times Square in AMC Empire 25, where we saw Providence. In that film, released in only seven theaters, Stacey Bradshaw played the teen love interest of my character, who I played as an adult. So Stacey and I were never in a scene together, but we were able to connect on set, one of seven we've been on together. So as we were leaving the theatre seeing her fine performance in Unplanned it brought back fond memories of that opening weekend of Providence.
The difference is that Unplanned is on more than 1,000 screens, and their Friday take puts them at #4 at the box office. The Hollywood Reporter estimates that it will make back its $6M production budget by the end of the weekend!
Joyce and I were so glad we saw it! It's probably the first Rated-R film we've seen (without VidAngel filters in place) since The Passion of the Christ. Its rating seems to have been an attempt to dissuade the folks who typically go out to see PureFlix films, but, aside from a few d--n, h-ll and pi-s words there was nothing in it to give it over a PG rating, and those words may not even have garnered a PG these days. They say it's from bloody graphic images, but if abortion is really just the removal of unwanted tissue, then you can see much worse during network prime time. It seems those on this MPAA panel who gave it the R rating know somewhere in their hearts that abortion is violent to someone other than the mother. You can find more details at www.Dove.org.
I went into that theater, thinking there was NOTHING that could go onto that screen that would make me question myself and I was wrong. What I saw DID make me question myself and my beliefs and I believe that EVERYONE should go and test themselves as I did.
The film is top shelf in its writing, acting and production values. When I was taking a homiletics course we were taught to ride the twin horses of intellect and emotion, and this film does that as evenhandedly as any film I've seen. Some of the lines will stay with me a very long time.
The lead role of Abby is played passionately by Ashley Bratcher, who I performed with in Princess Cut, so I was delighted to see this marvelous interview with her about the project on Fox and Friends:
Knowing Ashley's story makes her performance that much more profound. There's a moment when she's speaking to the children who her character aborted that has much greater depth, knowing her connection to that moment was so personal.
We gathered a group outside the theatre to pray. By that point I knew that it was #4 on opening day at the box office, and some of the others were shocked to hear that! "You wouldn't have guessed it by this turnout." Praise the Lord there are people in other states that care about the pre-born! We also prayed for healing in those who have had abortions, for the repeal of Roe v. Wade, for the nation's mind to change about when life begins, and for coast to coast REVIVAL!!!
The author, Jason Scott Jones, points out how Uncle Tom's Cabin became the book that turned people against slavery in America.
I wrote a sketch in college that linked abortion to slavery. It focused on the fact that our forebears could rationalize owning slaves by calling them property, as people rationalize abortion by calling preborn babies fetuses and tissue. The sketch was never performed because it was too controversial, even at a Christian college in the early 1990s. It had two parallel scenes: A slave with his master, and a mother and her preborn child. I had the slave cry out when being whipped, and the preborn child cry out when she was being aborted. I guess my sketch got an R-rating, like Unplanned. Of course a preborn baby gets oxygen from her mother, so she couldn't really scream, but it's the silent scream of the aborted child that changes the mind of Abby, at that time the youngest director in Planned Parenthood's history. After overseeing the death of about 22,000 preborn babies, Johnson is now a pro-life activist. I'm praying Unplanned changes millions of minds.
I was thrilled to discover it was Ethan and Ashley Ledden, who created the image that changed Abby's mind. They've worked on five films I was a part of.
I went on to write a one-man play on an abolitionist who helped spearhead the largest movement against slavery at that time... 1758, 103 years before the Civil War: I Dreamed I Was Free. Toward the end of the play the abolitionist, John Woolman, says, "God has reminded us that they are mothers and sons, fathers and daughters, sisters and brothers. They are fellow human beings, and is that not reason enough to live without owning them. You all know somewhere in your hearts that slavery is wrong. Can't you feel the lash on your hearts? Can't you feel the chains on your souls? We are the ones in bondage because we will not release our slaves!"
I do a hot seat after the play, staying in character to answer questions. After a performance last week, abortion came up, and John Woolman pointed out that slavery was rationalized by not recognizing slaves as human and then observed, "My generation left a mark upon yours. Do what you can to save the lives of the unborn. Do not leave a mark upon those of future generations."
Em Green of Variety said:
I've heard alllll the arguments, and I've had allllll the logical rebuttals, but to actually SEE it? It just made it indefensible, and it cut the legs out from under me. ... As a woman, I cannot ever again claim to be pro-woman and stand in favor of abortion. I'm out.
Variety has the kind of audience that can help push this film toward becoming the Uncle Tom's Cabin of our day, and hopefully there will be more reviews like that, but Jones points out:
Historians credit Uncle Tom’s Cabin with spurring the anti-slavery movement to victory. But that credit extends beyond its author. It also goes to those who published, promoted, and simply bought and read the book.
Don't let the MPAA keep you from supporting this film and doing your part to make it the Uncle Tom's Cabin of our generation!
Ken Ham of The Creation Museum and The Ark Encounter recommends Unplanned for children as young as 15.
Pastor Jim Warren continues our series on The Word is Marching On with a message from Luke 5:1-11 showing how Obedience to the Word transforms not only the doer of the Word, but those whose lives are affected by that act of obedience. He uses a diagram of the impact of Dr. Linda Warren's obedience to receive salvation. Among the many influenced, Pastor Jim cites our ministries and refers to a story from Corrie ten Boom's book, The Hiding Place.
We just found out about a musical production of Revelation, which presents the final book of the Bible word-for-word, spoken and sung. It's running May 9 through June 9 at The Players Theatre, 115 MacDougal St., NYC: www.Revelation.nyc.
Watch the trailer below by clicking the arrow, or if you're getting this via email visit www.Blog.RichDrama.com.
We're thrilled to see a new generation called to dramatize this powerful book, as I was at the end of the last millenium. My one-man play, The Revelation, is still available for performances anywhere in the world.
I got to open our service at Westchester Chapel this morning, and I observed that on St. Patrick's Day our sermon was on freedom in Christ! It was an amazing, and unplanned, correlation, since Patrick was a slave, who escaped, only to have a vision calling him to return to the land of his captors to explain the way to be free in Christ.
At The Send 58,878 believers gathered in Camping World Stadium believing for a tipping point of action— A NEW ERA of Missions & Evangelism. A central part of The Send is making practical commitments to adopting a mission field. 18,196 committed to the Jesus Fast. 531 people responded to the Gospel. 2,467 people committed to reaching High Schools & 2,197 committed to reaching Universities. 5,064 committed to adopting their neighborhood & 5,423 committed to reaching the nations. THE WAR ON INACTION HAS BEGUN & WE ARE JUST GETTING STARTED.
The Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, are attributed to Moses by Scripture and by scholars writing as early as 150 BC. With the rise of modern skepticism, biblical scholars have argued that Moses couldn't have written the Pentateuch because the Hebrew alphabet wasn't invented until long after the Exodus. Egyptian hieroglyphics would not have been a practical way of writing that much information. Mahoney tracks down archeologists and linguists who make many convincing arguments that the first alphabet was [SPOILER ALERT] an early form of Hebrew, and it was invented within an 11 year window during which Joseph lived. If you follow the logic of the film, you will see that there is no reason to doubt that Moses could have written the first five books of the Bible, as Scripture says he did.
Can't wait to see it on the big screen! It will be in cinemas nationwide March 14, 16 and 19, 2019.