Faith, Media & Culture

From the crossroads of faith and media: Faith Film of the Week –  Indivisible

Indivisible opens in theaters nationwide Friday, Oct. 26. The movie stars Sarah Drew, Justin Bruening, Jason George, Tia Mowry, and Madeline Carroll.

About The Movie (from the film’s website)

INDIVISIBLE is based on the extraordinary true story of Army Chaplain Darren Turner and his wife Heather. With a strong, faith-filled marriage, the Turners are ready to follow their calling: serving God, family, and country.

Fresh from seminary and basic training, Chaplain Turner and his family arrive at Fort Stewart. Yet before the Turners can even unpack their new house, Darren is deployed to Iraq. Heather is left taking care of their three young children alone … as well as serving the families of the other deployed soldiers.

I recently had the opportunity to talk with Chaplain Darren Turner his wife Heather. Here are some excerpts of our conversation:

JWK: How come you chose the chaplaincy? That seems like one of the toughest kinds of ministry there could be?

CHAPLAIN DARREN TURNER: That’s a good question. I was in a campus ministry in Athens, Georgia. The University of Georgia, actually — way back in the late nineties. I met Heather there. We were married for a few years. We had a couple of children. I came to find out that one of Heather’s good friends in college ended up marrying a guy in the Army…You’re right. It seemed like a really tough thing to do. (I thought) “I don’t think I’m interested.” But the more we talked about it and investigated it…it became very attractive after a while.

JWK: Tell me about your deployment to Iraq. How long were you deployed?

CDT: My brigade (was) deployed for 15 months from Fort Stewart, Georgia near Savannah, Georgia. I was in Iraq, just south of Baghdad — (about 15) or 20 miles south of Baghdad — for the majority of that deployment.

JWK: And you cam under attack during your deployment.

CDT: We did. It was pretty frequent actually. Even when we were on base there was a lot of mortars, some just random. Gunfire would come over the wall sometimes. We were in the middle of what felt like a hornet’s next, for sure.

JWK: What was the most rewarding part of being a chaplain?

CDT: That’s a great question. Serving with people who voluntarily signed up to (possibly) die for me nd you. That is such a profound experience. And then getting to be beside them when life is good — playing basketball and babies being born, being with them in the good times — and then having the — I guess I would call it — “the horrible privilege” of being beside them when life doesn’t turn out as they planned it, (for) tragedy (and) being there with them through the thick and the thin. Knowing that they would truly give their lives for me if called upon was an extreme humbling honor…That’s the most rewarding part of it.

JWK: But it did put a strain on your marriage.

CDT: It did, absolutely. Just the time and space apart — 15 months — even it there was nothing bad going on. That’s a long time to be apart. You throw in there a lot of the tragedy and some of the triumph and people change. 15 months is a long time. I change. Heather changed. Our children changed. Our neighbors changed. Our friends, our parents, our brothers and sisters. That’s a long time for people to keep growing personally. You come back into their world and they see the world that you’ve been in. In some ways you feel like strangers.

HEATHER TURNER: Definitely. Speaking to what Darren said, we all change as people. When you have such a long separation under stressful situations, living geographically single (and) getting used to living under that pattern of living as a single person or a single parent, it’s as if the person you married is a completely different person and coming to terms with that is very difficult.

JWK: But you guys are okay now.

CDT: Yeah, by God’s grace we are. As we’re talking I’m just remembering some of the things that helped us recover from almost a marital collapse (were found) in truly being able to forgive one another for attitudes and actions and  things said and thought, just hurtful things that we did to each other when I came back. The movie portrays that a little bit in the scene in the kitchen where we’re yelling at each other and the way I treated our kids. The power of forgiveness and truly understanding is not something I can drum up on my own will power.  For me, as a Christian, knowing that I have been forgiven in Christ, who am I to then not be able to forgive my wife or someone who has hurt my feelings…Those were the areas that we really had to revisit and grow in…Are we going to do this? Are we going to recover? Or are we going to not forgive one another and let the marriage just fall apart?

JWK: How did the film come about?

CDT: There was a newspaper story about our deployment in 2008. The movie director (David G. Evans) read that and he contacted us and said “This is powerful. This is incredible.” And he didn’t even know about the problems we had when we came home from our deployment.  So when I found out that we almost lost our marriage, that I got out of the military for a short time and then came back in once we restored our marriage he was like “Oh,  my goodness! This is a movie script!” I was like “Really? This is just our lives. This doesn’t sound like a movie script.” He was way more passionate than we were about it. He believed in the story more than we did. Thank God for that because now it’s hopefully going to be something that touches a lot of people and gets people to really acknowledge where they are and sometimes raising their hand and saying “You know what? I need help here. I need somebody from the outside to come in and help.”

JWK: So are you happy with what’s on screen?

HT: We are very happy. We were really in the back seat. This vision was really the vision of David…and his heart and desire to really honor the military, to honor the Lord is really evident in the film. It’s so respectful of what can be a really difficult and touchy subject. I thought they handled it so we. And the actors did such a great job.  We’re very happy.

CDT: I agree. I think it turned out way higher than our expectations — not that I had low expectations. I just honestly didn’t know what to expect. When we saw the film, we were blown away.

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