September 24, 2016

'Journey Interrupted' film documents struggles, victories of Christians with same-sex attraction

A new film premiering Sept. 24 in Berrien Springs, Michigan, is reaching out to Seventh-day Adventists and others struggling with same-sex attraction: there is a way through the struggle, and it involves a total reliance on God's power.

"Journey Interrupted" is a 60-minute documentary chronicling the lives of five Seventh-day Adventists dealing with the issue of same-sex attraction. Of these, four have found an answer to their struggle, while one has not done so yet.

"We wanted to let people know that people are very aware of their struggles with same-sex attraction, and don’t know what to do, and even when they know what to do, they’re held by their 'feelings' and do what comes naturally to them," said Wayne Blakely, a founder of 'Coming Out' Ministries who is featured in the film. "We know because we’ve been there, and we know it’s a struggle to sacrifice what you feel for a relationship that is in agreement with Jesus Christ."

Filmed in the United States, Brazil and Europe, 'Journey Interrupted' began as 25 hours of recorded testimonies from the participants. Filmmaker Danny Woods from Johnstown, Ohio was introduced to Blakely by Brian and Anne Savinsky, ministry board members, who later became the film's producers. Though initially reluctant to do the film, Woods, who is not a Seventh-day Adventist, said that after praying about the project, " It was just one of those things where I kind of felt like being pushed towards it. … It was a 'Jonah' thing; if I didn't do this, I wouldn't feel OK."

Woods said the film presents "something that is not talked about in churches," which is how faithful Christians deal with the question of same-sex attraction.

"Whenever I mention it, they're very fascinated, it's not a topic they talk about, and when they do, it's in a negative context without any answers. It'll help a lot of people that are struggling and don't know what to do. It'll help people understand the conflict that they deal with," he said.

The original 25 hours of recorded interviews and other filming ended up as one hour and 40 minutes of footage, which was believed to be too long for many audiences. Blakely then found Troy Homenchuk of Niles, Michigan, at the late-2015 GYC event in Louisville, Kentucky, who expressed an interest in helping.

"This is much more than a film about people who were once sinning in a particular way, it’s more about the gospel and your identity in Christ," Homenchuk said. "It’s more about your identity as a child of God."

He said viewers, "might be confronted with a way of thinking you didn’t consider before. … I think you’ll find it’s a film that can change that point of view (about sin) to how God wants to deal with us, as seen in His word, as seen in the Bible. Not in terms of what culture says, or what some well-meaning Christians say."

The editing task fell to Jonathan LaPointe of Berrien Springs, who is the assistant media director for Pioneer Memorial Church at Andrews University.

"I think the biggest challenge with the film was really trying to figure out what the core message really was," LaPointe, a 2012 Andrews graduate who majored in music, said. "There is only so much you can ask your audience to take away. What’s the theme that runs through all five of these stories, then to parse out what really contributes to that core theme and what is not relevant in this context."

Blakely said the film is already drawing interest on a global basis.

"Our schedules are beginning to fill up with premieres, even out of the country," he said. "More people are contacting us now about finding out how they can have a screening where they are located."

Asked what his hope was for the project, Blakely said 'Journey Interrupted' is a film that "stands alone, with respect to the Christian faith. It’s not a denominational issue, it’s a faith concern. And so, the film certainly reaches far beyond the borders of Adventism. And I believe it speaks to God’s remnant people, wherever they might be found."