Faith, Media & Culture

Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

Jennifer Garner on playing Christy Beam in Miracles from Heaven in theaters now. She is flanked by producers DeVon Franklin and T.D. Jakes on her and the film’s subjects Anna and Christy Beam to her right.

Synopsis (from the film’s press release): Miracles from Heaven is based on the incredible true story of the Beam Family. When Christy Beam (Jennifer Garner) discovers her 10-year-old daughter Anna (Kylie Rogers) has a rare, incurable disease, she becomes a ferocious advocate for her daughter’s healing as she searches for a solution. As Christy searches, she befriends Angela (Queen Latifah), who helps bring everyday joy and hope back to the Beam family. After Anna has a freak accident, an extraordinary miracle unfolds in the wake of her dramatic rescue that leaves medical specialists mystified, her family’s faith restored and their community inspired. Cast:  Jennifer Garner (Alias), Kylie Rogers (Fathers and Daughters), Martin Henderson (Everest), Eugenio Derbez (The Book of Life), Queen Latifah (The Wiz!)/Director: Patricia Riggen (The 33)/Screenplay: Randy Brown (Trouble with the Curve)/Based on the book by: Christy Beam/Released by: Columbia Pictures, in association with AFFIRM Films, Roth Films, TDJ Enterprises and Franklin Entertainment.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Christy Beam about her amazing story.

JWK: So, Anna was unharmed after a 30-foot fall into the inside of a hollow tree. That in itself is a miracle. But please tell me what happened after that.

CHRISTY BEAM: Out of the blue Annabel looked over at me and “You know, Mommy, I went to Heaven when I fell inside that tree.” I looked at her and I like to say I said something brilliant and profound but I didn’t. I just said “Really?” And she said “Yeah, and I sat on Jesus’ lap and I wanted to stay there, Mommy, because there’s no pain in Heaven. But he told me that I couldn’t, that I had to go back, that he had plans for me that I could not fulfill in Heaven, that, when the firefighters got me out, there would be nothing wrong with me.”

And so we talked some more. And I said “Isn’t God good? There was nothing wrong with you from that fall. God spared you.” But it didn’t connect that meant her illness. And over time, Annabel didn’t need her medications. She was happy and playing and eating and using the restroom…(She was) not needing her medications. We began weaning her off of one after the other under the care of the doctor.  She’s on zero medications today….She’s totally, totally healed.

JWK: How old is she now?

CB: Annabel is 13 now. She’s in seventh grade.

JWK: How long ago did her accident happen?

CB: That all happened in 2011…five years ago.

JWK: How has she changed? She must have a special outlook on life? 

CB: Oh, she does. She is humble but she has so much grace and mercy. She had a lot of grace before because she handled her horrific disorder with such grace but she’s different now. I tell people God did not just heal her (physically). emotionally, socially and academically, in every way He healed her. She’s a different child.

JWK: Does she have any idea about what she wants t do with her life?

CB: That is a great question. She does. She had met a child life specialist her hospital. Her name was Dani…who came to explain to Annabel what her surgeries were. She explained what they did…and what picc lines were and what IV’s were. She would color with her and just love her…(So now) she wants to be a child life specialist like Dani. She wants to help children who have illness and help them like Dani helped her understand what happened to her.

JWK: How has the experience changed you? 

CB:  I feel like the greatest way that it’s changed me is I feel like I have an opportunity to share with other people that during that time in your life when you are overwhelmed with your challenge and consumed with the darkness of your struggle, that God is working many, many small miracles for you. So, don’t miss them while you’re waiting on the big one. I feel like I wish someone had told me during my challenge to look up — because God was doing so many miracles around me and I was missing them. I feel like God is giving me the opportunity to tell people to look up. I feel like that’s my voice now.

JWK: I’ve gone through certain things to and I think understand what you’re saying. That’s a great message to pass on to other people. What do you think of the film?

CB: I feel like they did a wonderful job. I feel like trying to take a four-year, almost five-year battle and condense it into a movie that is an hour and a half long is a huge challenge — but I feel like they did a very good job. I feel like the people who were in it were phenomenal and the producers who worked on it were incredible. We were very, very pleased with the movie…I feel like it is such a message of hope and inspiration. It’s such a message of comfort. I feel like the movie — and the book Miracles from Heaven — both were inspired.

JWK: So, God is a loving God who cares about us.

CB: That’s right. He is a faithful God, even in those times where (you’re like) “Where are you, God?” he is right there.

You can read my review of the film here and my conversation with DeVon Franklin here. Below

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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