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Volunteers called backbone of ‘Fireproof’

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article first appeared in The Christian Index, newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention, on the Web at www.christianindex.org.

This story is part of a series of Baptist Press stories about Fireproof, which hits theaters Sept. 26. To read an overview of the movie click here. To read a review of the movie click here. To read how churches can get involved click here. A story about actor Harris Malcom is available here. Finally, a story about the director and producer is available here.

ALBANY, Ga. (BP)–Everyone on the set of “Fireproof” had a story to tell about why they wanted to be a part of the movie, either as a volunteer behind the scenes or being drafted for one of the acting roles.

Jim McBride, executive pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga., the movie’s sponsor, said the hundreds of individuals who offered their services are the key to the movie’s success in holding costs down and thus making it possible to bring the story to a national audience.

Each of Sherwood’s two preceding movies -– “Facing the Giants” and “Flywheel” — were produced on a shoestring budget. While Fireproof may have slightly better financing, its budget is still far from adequate. That’s where volunteers fill the gap, from undergirding the various teams in prayer to making mashed potatoes for one of the chow lines.

Here’s a quick look at some of the folks, both on the screen and behind the scenes, who made it all possible. They come from all walks of life with one purpose: to impact the culture for Christ through the use of media.


Residence: Leesburg, Ga.

Vocation: Logistics officer, U.S. Marine Corps stationed in Albany, who has since been deployed to Iraq. He is a member of Sherwood Baptist’s choir.

Role: Firefighter Michael Simmons

Bevel is a career military officer who gave 30 days of his vacation time to work on the set of Fireproof. His favorite Bible verse is Ephesians 5:25 which discusses how husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. He said he is praying that the movie will struggling couples who will embrace the idea of covenant marriage.

In his own words here is why he volunteered, whether it was to serve on a lighting crew, serving eggs at breakfast, or acting:

“One night after church Alex and Stephen [Sherwood associate pastors and directors of the film] asked me to come to a casting call. I sort of laughed and told them that if I were accepted it would have to be of God because it certainly wouldn’t be of me because of what I had to offer -– which was nothing. When I said that I had no acting experience they said they weren’t looking for actors; they were looking for people who had a heart for God. That’s the heart of what makes this so special and why I wanted to be part of it.

“I believe strongly in marriage and the covenant relationship between a man and a woman, and I hope that’s the lasting impression that people remember when they leave the theaters. Fireproof is not about making money but about changing lives. It is about using the medium of filmmaking to get the Gospel into homes that the church could not get into otherwise.

“One of my fondest memories was seeing how God supplied the needs of the production crew. We don’t have a Hollywood budget but God provided all the resources of the Albany police and fire departments, hospital, and other resources at or below cost and in many cases for no charge. It was simply amazing to see Him at work.”


Residence: Cumming, Ga.

Vocation: Youth pastor, First Baptist Church in Alpharetta

Role: Fireman Wayne Floyd

Dervan is no stranger to Sherwood; he was born in Albany and grew up in the church, eventually accepting Christ through its ministry and later joining its staff as student ministry associate. He credits Sherwood pastor Michael Catt for his life-shaping role as mentor and Alex Kendrick for his premarital counseling.

Dervan donated two weeks of his vacation time, plus a few days offered by his employer, to accept an acting role. He recapped his reasons for wanting to be a part of the movie:

“My dad had been a fireman in Albany when I was growing up and that meant something to me to play that role in the movie. But on another level, my dad experienced several divorces, so I saw the pain that was caused through those events.

“I love God’s concept of covenant marriage and wanted to be part of something [like this movie] that communicates that message to our society. One of the lines gets right to the point of marriage: ‘you don’t follow your heart, you lead your heart.’

“That says that you don’t let your emotions be the compass for your marriage. That’s the word hurting couples need to hear today, and I’m praying they will come to see God’s truth by viewing this movie.”


Residence: Albany, Ga.

Vocation: Harris is a ministry resource consultant with the Georgia Baptist Convention; Phyllis is a substitute teacher.

Role: The couple are cast as John and Cheryl Holt, parents of the lead character Caleb Holt, played by Kirk Cameron. They originally signed up for prayer support and were asked to read for a part, which led to their casting in the movie. Harris is cast in a pivotal role as the father who issues the “love dare” to his son whose marriage in on the verge of collapse.

“This is definitely the first and most likely the last time we will ever be in a movie,” Harris Malcom said with a laugh. “Stephen and Alex were looking for a couple in their 50s to play a part so that’s how we were drafted.

“My prayer is that this movie will show the world God’s plan for marriage and that lives will be changed for eternity as a result. So many couples today throw in the towel at the first sign of serious conflict and they don’t have the skills to know how to deal with those hard times. The hard times will come to every marriage sooner or later, and knowing how to seek the Lord will make the difference between success and failure.

“One thing I especially like about this movie is how it addresses male pride and the related problems. This is a ‘must-see’ movie for couples in all stages of their marriage.”


Residence: Albany, Ga.

Vocation: Albany businessman

Role: Cast as an extra in the movie; his wife is a set dresser.

Warbington, who serves as deacon chairman at Sherwood, said he wanted to “be a part of something extraordinary that is going to impact our culture for Christ.”

“I have two small children and I want to change the culture for them by helping produce movies that have a positive message. Our children don’t need to hear four-letter words on primetime family channels…. We feel confident that this will be a movie that families can attend and learn positive values on a variety of levels that glorify Christ.

“I also want to help send a message to Hollywood that they can produce Christian movies that attract an audience.”


Residence: Sylvester, Ga.

Vocation: Homemaker, bookkeeper for family farming business

Role: “I’m a ‘do this’ and ‘do that’ girl as well as being responsible for petty cash purchases needed on the set. Today I’m also serving iced tea for the lunch crowd.”

Fireproof is the first movie Morris has ever volunteered to serve in, even though she has been a member of Sherwood for seven years -– two years before Flywheel hit the screen. She has strong reasons for wanting to give her time to see the movie become a success:

“The first 12 years of my marriage were a real roller coaster until my husband was saved. After that, it was like the Lord gave me a totally new marriage. I already knew Christ but he wasn’t a believer and that caused some built-in problems from the outset.

“We have now been married for 30 years and I’ve personally seen how God can turn a marriage around. I’m praying that this movie will help save marriages like mine that were on the verge of collapse.”
Joe Westbury is managing editor of The Christian Index. For more information about “Fireproof,” visit FireproofTheMovie.com. For resources, visit FireproofMyMarriage.com.

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