Kirk Cameron wrote, "It's easy to get excited about your faith when things are going well in your life. But when your whole world comes crashing down on you, the questions start: 'Where is God when I need him most? Why do bad things happen to good people?' Unstoppable is a journey, based on a true story, that has become the most personal and transparent project I have ever made regarding my faith."
Alex: Kirk, tell me how Unstoppable came to be.
Kirk: I’d love to. Unstoppable was by far the most personal project that I’ve ever made, and it really started out as something quite different from what you see when you watch the movie in the theaters or when you get the DVD. It actually started out as the story that would have taken place before the Monumental story, the story that I made about the Pilgrims. I was going to talk about the unstoppable gospel and how it landed in England before the Pilgrims to grab the baton and take that on.
It eventually became something very different, and I think providentially, God brought a very personal story home to me in the form of my young friend, Matthew, 15 years old, died of cancer. That just stopped all production and really refocused my attention on what needs to be unstoppable and that is our faith in God in the midst of our own pain and tragedy and suffering on a very personal level. That really took over the main theme and plot line of Unstoppable.
Alex: Lots of things happened with Unstoppable, from being blocked by YouTube and Facebook at the beginning to setting box office records in the way that you released it. Tell us some of the things that God’s done in bringing Unstoppable out. What are some of the things he’s done?
Kirk: It’s fun for me to think about the providence of God and his omniscience, and knowing that these kinds of things happen ahead of time and us only finding out about it on the fly. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but when you spend a whole year, making a movie and then YouTube and Facebook block your trailers, so no one can see it, you can freak out a little bit and you think, “What? What happened?” Apparently what happened was, there were a group of people who clicked the spam button or the inappropriate, abusive button there on Facebook and got it ejected from the system. You know there’s a lot of inappropriate videos on YouTube and Facebook, but my movie trailer wasn’t one of them.
When I put that picture of the gag in my mouth with the Facebook logo over the top of it, that reached about 20 million people and many of you spoke up to Facebook and they quickly reversed the status of the video. So many people saw it, went to the movie theaters that was set records and actually beat big movies like Gravity and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs on the days that we were in the box office. It’s almost as though God likes to use things that others intend for harm for our good and his glory. It seems like that’s what he did.
Alex: That’s awesome. I know there’s a lot of folks out there that maybe haven’t even had a chance to see it yet; the unusual release schedule, playing as a live event in theaters. There was about 700 theaters throughout the country and set a record for that type of release. As it releases on DVD, what are some of the things … What do you hope that people use this for in their personal ministry? How do you hope that it speaks to folks?
Kirk: First of all I want to say that this is very exciting and encouraging to me, to see 270,000 people drive sometimes hours just to get to a movie theater to see a movie about faith, hope and love, to find an answer to a question like, “Where is God when bad things happen to good people?” That’s sending a very loud message to Hollywood about the kinds of movies that many, many people want to see. I’m very encouraged about that and want to just high-five everybody who’s getting up off their couch and not saying, “Uh, let’s let the culture go to hell and count on the rapture getting us out of here before gets real bad.”
No, let’s go make a difference by getting involved in shaping the culture. Let’s support movies that we like. Let’s talk to our friends about it. Let’s inject the gospel into every area of life, and that’s what you’re doing and what we’re doing together by partnering on movies like this. Alex, I thank you for what you’re doing and what we’re doing in future projects. Actually, I’ve lost track of your question. What was it that you asked?
Alex: What do you hope that now that the movie’s more accessible on DVD, that obviously it will get into many more hands? What do you hope God does with it?
Kirk: Well, you know how you listen to a music album for the second or third or fourth time and finally say, “Well, wait a minute. I heard the greatest hit on the radio, you know, the one hit that the radio’s playing, but there’s four other songs here that are so great. I never would have known if I didn’t buy the album.” Same thing with a DVD. You can watch a movie like Unstoppable in a movie theater and everything’s going by so quickly that you miss many of the things that are little gems that you see the second time you watch it or the third time you watch it.
Everything from the theological points about Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, the rainbow with Noah’s Ark; these kinds of things will give you an opportunity to really discuss the meatier issues of Unstoppable, to dive deeper in, have conversations about the gospel with someone who’s not a Christian. The question of where is God in the midst of pain and tragedy is universal. Atheists love to ask that question, because they think it will destroy our faith or maybe was destroyed theirs years ago when he used to go to church. Everyone has to wrestle with this.
The DVD gives you an opportunity to watch this with people and pause and say, “Now, what do you think about that?” or fast-forward to a chapter or get a behind-the-scenes look about what was going on. I actually even got a special deluxe version of this at my website with six hours of study materials. My goal is truly to give you materials to mature your family, to build your faith to strengthen your understanding of the gospel so that you can apply it to every aspect of your life.
Alex: That’s great. I got to tell you, you know, you and I talked a year and a half, maybe two years ago and you are telling me what the film is going to be about. You touched on it a little bit earlier that it changed focus a little bit. When I started seeing the promotional materials and you asking the questions in the trailer about, “Where’s God in the midst of suffering?” I had doubts. I’m like, “Is this movie really going to deliver on that strong of a premise?” I got to tell you when I watched it, it very much did for me. The thing that I really liked about it is, it did it in a very different way. It wasn’t a talking head, a drama. It wasn’t a complete fabrication, but it was such a nice mixture of theology, as well as personal stories, which I think makes everything more impactful. Me personally, there several folks that I can’t wait to sit down and watch this with, including some of my neighbors; so very excited about that. Let me … Go ahead.
Kirk: Oh, I was just going to say I’m thrilled that you liked it. I was very excited when I made it, couldn’t wait for people to get a hold of it and see it. You know the truth is, when we ask a difficult question like, “Where is God when bad things happen to us,” we can look at bad people, wicked people, and we say, “”Well, they had it coming,” right. You look at a murderer or a rapist and you say, “Wow, you know, that’s justice coming.” We don’t think of ourselves as people who should be on the receiving end of difficulty because we think we don’t deserve things like that.
When we look into God’s word he gives us the answer to the question. He tells us that God is gracious and kind and everything, including the fact that we can sit on a Google chat session like this with millions of people around the world and talk about movies. That’s gravy. That’s grace. That’s mercy. God’s not giving us what we deserve. If he gave us that, we’d be in hell. What he’s giving us is kindness, patience, and long-suffering. We become so used to that, that when difficulty comes, we don’t know what to do with it.
God says it’s for our good. It’s for our patience. It’s for our faith and character and compassion, but even though we know that up here, it helps to drive it into the heart when we climb up to heaven’s balcony, so to speak, which is what I tried to do in Unstoppable and give you a big picture view of the story God is writing. Remember he took thousands of years between the time of Abraham and Jesus, between the first Adam, and the last Adam. He didn’t just resolve the sin issue like that.
He took thousands of years and wrote a story called history where the last Adam comes, and crushes the serpent’s head, but he does it in a way that looks horrible on the surface. He dies on the cross, an innocent victim, but we trust the author now because we know what happens a few chapters later. He busts through the grave. He receives all authority and he pours out his spirit and says, “Now, let’s go finish this job and I’m with you to the end of the age.” When we experience tragedy and we put it in the context of that big picture story, we say, “Let’s trust the author. He’s up to something. In a few chapters, all of this will make sense.”
Alex: Amen, amen. Well, you definitely have a zeal. It’s clear that you have a clear message from the Lord, and that you have the passion for serving him. Let me ask you …
Kirk: it’s either that or I had too many cups of coffee this morning.
Alex: Let me ask you this. How in the world did Mike Seaver end up sitting here on a Google chat talking about the sovereignty of God? How did that whole transition happen for you?
Kirk: Oh boy. The short version is, I’d still be an atheist today if it wasn’t for God. Think about that. The truth is, I tell people I’m a recovering atheist and I am because God was kind and gracious to me. I mean, the bottom line is I never really thought about it much. I just thought smart people didn’t believe in a God you can’t see, but the truth is, is that I had a hidden agenda for my atheism. You know the dirty little secret behind atheism is; without God there is no ultimate accountability, so that means there’s no one really up there holding you accountable for what you do in the dark this weekend. Once you understand that you can look around and you begin to see, “Wait a minute. There’s evidence staring me in the face.” It’s the great big cosmic, “Duh” that there is a Creator.
That’s why everyone from Einstein to fathers of medicine and science and astrophysicists and the smartest folks on planet Earth understand that this is wonderfully and powerfully made. Someone took me to church and I heard a sermon from a pastor named Chuck Swindoll. He convicted me what the gospel. I started asking questions. A good friend gave me a great book, by Josh McDowell called More Than a Carpenter. I started reading the Bible and I became convinced that if I died and found out that there was a heaven, I would not be going, because of my attitude toward the one who made me. I’d never once said thank you and so I prayed; very clumsily, but I said, “God make me the man you want me to be. If you’re real, please show me. Open my eyes and make me who you want me to be.” That was the beginning of my understanding of the gospel and following Christ.
Alex: How did that impact your family life, your marriage, your relationships? What change happened as you began to grow in your faith?
Kirk: Fortunately, I married an amazing woman. She was Mike Seaver’s girlfriend. I stole Mike’s girlfriend away from him and married her before he could. He had phenomenal taste in women. Chelsea and I have shared our faith in Christ together since the very beginning of our friendship and relationship. With our six kids, we move together as a unit. I would say that the biggest challenge and impact that my faith has had is more in my work. I’m going against the flow of the current here in Hollywood, at least the current current. I think it’s going to change because there are so many people who want to see great movies that honor and glorify God and build up the family that we’re going to be seeing more and more of these kinds of movies.
When you lose jobs and you are put in the categories of, you’re the bad guy; because you believe in a four thousand year old moral code that has established the greatest civilizations on earth. When you say that you believe in God’s word and that he cares enough to save us from sin, you get put in funny little categories by your peers here. The truth is, it’s challenging, but light doesn’t shine anymore brightly than when it’s surrounded by darkness. God just so happened to make the world in such a way that all the darkness in the universe cannot overcome the tiniest light. I’m one guy out here, but I know there’s millions of the rest of you all over the world and darkness, what’s left of it doesn’t have a chance.
Alex: Amen, amen. Obviously, as husbands and as fathers, one of our jobs is to pass that message on to the next generation, and to train up our kids to fight the same battles. Kirk, I hope to see you soon. God bless you.
Kirk: That sounds great, Alex. God bless you.
Bonus video: Kirk Cameron - Christianity is not what I thought