Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Accepting God's Will

by Hope Frances

I heard a story about a priest who went to visit a 27-year-old dying man at the hospital. The priest made a wrong turn and found himself in the room of an 80-year-old.

Instead of turning around and finding the younger man's room, the priest decided to stop and chat a while with the elderly man. To the priest's surprise he found the man to be very hardened toward God. It seemed that the more the priest tried to console him, the harder his heart grew.

After their visit was over, the priest found the 27-year-old's room. What a contrast was their visit compared to the one the priest had just had. He found the younger man to be very at peace with the reality of the cancer that was eating away at his body.

There's no doubt that the peace and resignation to God's Will that the young patient felt can be attributed to his Catholic faith and prayer life.

Like the young man in the above story, Therese Fox is also resigned to God's Will. She was diagnosed with terminal cancer several weeks ago. The doctors have given her 6 - 9 months to live.

Therese is a devoted wife and mother of seven children. An active Catholic, she is the Director of Religious Education at her parish in Georgia. Her faith and trust in God is unwavering. Miraculously, Therese's Catholic faith is giving her the peace to surrender to God's Will for her life.

When I first heard about Therese having been diagnosed with inoperable cancer, I wanted to write a story about her life and what an incredible wife, mother and friend she is.

But, she didn't want a biography. She didn't want the attention to be on her and all of her accomplishments in life. To me, that just shows what a genuine person she really is. She's not looking for sympathy, however, she does welcome the gift of your prayers.

So, I ask you readers to offer your prayers for a miraculous recovery for Therese Fox. Her family asks that you pray for the intercession of Pope John Paul II for strength and acceptance of God’s Will in their lives.

To find out more about Therese and to send her a spiritual bouquet, please visit the website

"For nothing will be impossible with God." Luke 1:37

Thursday, February 15, 2007

168 Hour Film Project - "A Theme, A Verse, A Week"

by Hope Frances

168 hours. One week. That's how long contestants in the 168 Hour Film Project have to produce a short 10-minute film. And, there's one other requirement. The short has to be based on a BIBLE verse.

It's the ultimate filmmaker's challenge.

"We're starting with what the word of God says and then putting it into a vehicle the world understands," said John Ware, Founder & Executive Director of the 168 Project.

Now in its fifth year, the filmmaking competition has been launching the careers of Hollywood's future producers, writers and directors while keeping them focused on their Christian faith. Over the past four years, 173 films have been produced for the competition in hopes of being recognized at the 168 Film Festival. This year they are expected to have 60 entrants.


Prior to production week, the 168 hosts workshops and mixers to get the production crews prepped and ready to roll camera. Then the BIBLE verse is assigned. According to John, "What they do in the assignment is they take a stone and the stone has a BIBLE verse on it. Then we read the BIBLE verse and boom, they're gone."

Once they have the verse upon which the film is to be based, the writers are given three days to write the script. After the three days of writing, a huge casting session is held to select the actors. With such a short time frame in which to work, most of the actors are cast that day. "After casting they finish up pre-production week. The actual 168 hours refers to the period of time for production and post," said John.


When you have only one week and limited resources to produce a film, you're already behind the eight ball. The mere challenge of producing a film in 168 hours tests the moviemaker's faith and trust in God. But miraculously, everything seems to fall into place.

The behind-the-scenes stories of production week are equally as compelling as the films created during that time. It's not uncommon for those involved in every level of each film project to have life-changing experiences drawing them closer to God.

"We've seen so much revolutionary change," said John regarding the ways in which the competition has changed people's lives.

"There was one girl who was going to kill herself and somebody persuaded her to be on a 168 project. So she found the kindness on the set. She decided not to kill herself and she actually found the Lord on the set, too."

Pointing out another life-changing experience John said, "One guy was a producer and he said, 'Before 168 God and I weren't talking. Now we have a relationship.'"

There have been so many amazing miracles on the set that the 168 Hour Film Project is looking to produce a reality television show based on the behind-the-scenes stories of production week.


In order for a film to qualify for the 168 Film Festival it must adhere to the strict policies of the competition. According to John, "If they're late or if the film is over 11 minutes, they're not eligible for any awards. If they're one second late, we have to say, 'We're sorry.'"

All of the eligible entries are then pre-screened and rated numerically. Then they are narrowed down to the top 20. "Once we give the 20 to the judges we have a day of judging," said John.

Using to the BIBLE verse and its meaning weighs a lot in the scoring process. "You have to do what we call scriptural integration. That's 20% of the so-called grade. If people don't get the verse right, then they don't do well in the contest. It's a marriage of dreams and following God's word. Our goals are to illuminate the word of God and train young filmmakers and advance their careers," said John.

The top 20 films are then shown during the two-day 168 Film Festival held in Glendale, California on March 23 at Star's Art Theatre and March 24 at the Alex Theatre. The public is encouraged to attend the screenings and the awards show. Twenty awards are presented at the end of the film festival including best scriptural integration, film, comedy, screenplay, actor and actress. Select films from the festival will be shown on TBN.

Last year's winning film was from Italy. "It was a beautiful story. It's been downloaded about 10,000 times in Italy," said John.

Once again showing that… God shines brighter than all the stars in Hollywood.

(For further information about the 168 Hour Film Project and tickets for the 168 Film Festival, please visit their website at