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Billy Graham Comedy Mixes Faith, Laughter

What does a Christian movie plot that includes adultery, gambling, stealing and the mafia have to do with evangelizing the lost? Just ask the Rev. Billy Graham.

Graham said he learned early in his ministry that not everyone would respond to the gospel through crusades. So as a result of his passion to reach all audiences, Graham began World Wide Pictures (WWP) in 1952 as the motion picture arm of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA).

One-hundred twenty-five films and 49 years later, WWP has released its first comedy, Road to Redemption, starring Pat Hingle, Julie Condra and Jay Underwood. The film was slated for test runs in secular theaters in cities across the United States on Feb. 16 and March 9. The success of those runs will determine whether WWP attempts future nationwide film releases in secular markets.

Meanwhile, this atypical, quirky Christian film will be shown to TV audiences nation wide in June, when Road to Redemption also is slated for release on DVD and video.

WWP plans to release an action drama next year. "If our current tests show the market is truly looking for family entertainment with high moral value, we will schedule a nationwide theatrical release," said Roger Flessing, director of communications at BGEA.

The Road to Redemption comedy begins corny--when the financial bottom falls out on a young unmarried couple (Condra and Underwood) who are living together. After they squander $250,000 of stolen money from the mob on a supposed fixed horse-racing bet, the woman seeks a loan from her long-lost grandfather (Hingle), who is rich and also a Christian.

The humor improves as scenes move from Nevada to Montana. And as the granddaughter's hopes sink lower, the grandfather begins sharing his living faith with her. A few prayers are answered miraculously, and with Jesus there's always a happy ending.
--Billy Bruce

Celebrating Easter in Jerusalem

* The violence between Palestinians and Jews that stifled Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem in December 2000 is not expected to stop thousands of Christians from participating in traditional Easter celebrations in Jerusalem, officials in the Israel Ministry of Tourism report.

"All of the Easter celebrations are on as usual," Chava R. LeVine, an Israeli tourism official, told Charisma in late February.

The celebrations bring believers from around the world to Jerusalem. Many, like those who from year to year portray Jesus Christ during Easter celebrations, carry traditional crosses along the Via Dolorosa, the route that Jesus took when He carried His cross through the streets of Jerusalem to Calvary to be crucified.

Drug War Is Now National Prayer Effort

* Drug and alcohol addictions have ruined the lives of countless millions, crippling their families and devastating entire communities in the United States and around the world. The vast majority of all violent crimes have been committed while the perpetrator was under the influence.

On April 21-22, intercessors around the world are invited to battle for their addicted loved ones during the 11th Annual Just Pray No campaign, sponsored by Victorious Overcomers Substance Abuse Support Ministry.

Christians are being called worldwide to unite in prayer in order to pull down strongholds, break bondages and call out to God in Jesus' name to set the captives free. "It is only by the indwelling empowerment of the Holy Spirit that an addict can both be delivered from his or her addiction as well as receive eternal life in Christ," a Just Pray No spokesman stated.

Prayer volunteers are being asked to commit to pray for those who are bound by addiction by signing their name to prayer clocks, choosing two time periods during the prayer weekend. For more information, contact Victorious Overcomers at (718) 463-8140 or call the toll-free hot line for the United Statesand Caribbean at (800) DRUG-WAR (378-4927).

Is Television A Turn-Off? Hide the Remote!

* Ever wonder why you never find time to read your Bible? The TV-Turnoff Network thinks they might know why. Could it be that one-eyed sewer tube in your living room? Turn it off!

And just watch the available time for all sorts of good things--like spending time with family members in conversation--come to pass way more frequently.

Just so you'll have a chance to find out if they're telling the truth, the TV-Turnoff Network has arranged an entire week for addicts of "the tube" to get on the TV-free wagon. National TV-Turnoff Week is slated April 23-29.

The organization behind it hopes the event will help remedy this scary factoid: The amount of time Americans spend watching television is an average of four hours each day, which equals one day each week, two months each year and nine years by age 65. (And that's not counting all the time people are spending on the Internet these days.)

"With more than 6 million participants last year, TV-Turnoff Week is a great opportunity for schools and families to enjoy turning off the TV and turning on life," said Jennifer Kurz, communications associate for TV-Turnoff Network.

Just a Cup of Clean Water Can Change Lives

* The Redeemed Church in Landrum, S.C., will never be the same--not since the pastor and congregation caught a vision to help needy people in poor nations fight disease by drinking clean water.

Pastor W.W. Walker said the church was touched by a presentation made by parishioner Grady Plumby on his trip to Suriname, in South America. "I was touched when [their film] showed the filthy water these children had to drink. Sickness, disease and a small [water] supply had taken a toll on these children."

Walker, Plumber and other volunteers began designing a system called "washing" for digging shallow wells. The simple process uses a gasoline-powered pump, galvanized pipe, a check valve and an old-fashioned hand pump. The well-digging system is very easy to use on the mission field, Walker said.

Next, Walker organized Cup of Water Ministries Inc., a nonprofit group, and started raising money for the project. "We do not have any paid employees so 100 percent goes to the ministry's work," Walker said. A missions team used the system on a return trip to Suriname last February.

"Redeemed Church is doing all we can do, but we need to hear from others," Walker said. "If we get enough help, we will buy clothes, shoes as well as more well pumps to take to the mission field." Cup of Water Ministries can be reached at P.O. Box 99, Landrum, SC, 29356, or by calling (864) 468-4177.
--Billy Bruce

THE APRIL LIST

No. 1 Christian hardback:
The Prayer of Jabez, Bruce Wilkinson (Multnomah)

No. 1 paperback:
The Power of a Praying Wife, Stormie Omartian (Harvest House)

No. 1 fiction book:
City Girl, Lori Wick (Harvest House)

No. 1 CD:
WoW Gospel 2001, various artists (Verity)

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Charisma Magazine — Empowering believers for life in the Spirit