USA (MNN) — The celebrated film "Courageous" struck a nerve in the American law enforcement community.
"Courageous" is a story about families, fatherhood, and faith, seen mainly through the eyes of a few police officers.
The film, which premiered on September 30, has been shown all across the United States, but Jaron Ministries International arm Code 3 Ministries International had hopes specifically for California. Code 3 distributed thousands of movie tickets to law enforcers across the Central Valley of California.
The idea was to reach a nearly unreached community by creating a curriculum to go alongside the film. Jim Bontranger created a series of studies specifically for police officers to use after they watched "Courageous," to get conversation flowing in one of the toughest professions around.
"Law enforcement, by its very nature of dealing with mad, sad, and bad people, take it on the chin if they don't know the Lord," explains Bontrager. "Unfortunately two to three times as many police officers commit suicide each year as die in the line of duty. We have an extremely high divorce rate–one of the highest of all professions. Officers have a tendency to take the struggles home, and it destroys their relationships."
"Our hope is that we could introduce the Lord Jesus Christ and the ability He has to empower them to be the kind of fathers and husbands they need to be," Bontrager adds.
The response has been unprecedented.
"We were hoping to get at least one theatre full of law enforcement officers and their spouses hearing the good reports of the quality of the movie," says Jaron Ministries' Rob Carter. And God blessed that dream. "Right now, Fresno, California is #1 in all of North America still (since the premier) in box office sales."
God has indeed used this movie in theatres and in 11 exclusive showings in the area. 20 groups led by retired officers were formed to discuss the film and its principles using Bontrager's curriculum.
Since discussions began, says Carter, "We've gotten phone calls from officers whose marriages were on the rocks, and they're reaching out for help. A number have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, so we're moving into a discipleship mode with them."
Bontrager says the curriculum is designed to speak to police officers where they are. "We talk about the need for backup in a spiritual and emotional sense. Officers understand the physical need for backup when they come across a threatening situation. But when it comes to spiritual or emotional backup, it's often seen as a sign of weakness, when in reality the Lord needs us to cover each other; we can't stand alone."
As a result of these discussions, some are already coming to Christ, some are slowly opening up to the possibility of the Gospel, and some are just exploring how to improve relationships for the first time.
The studies have been so effective that Code 3 now hopes to take them much farther than California.
"We've discovered and learned that the American badge can go many places in the world that pastors and missionaries cannot," says Carter. "So it's exciting to watch badge-to-badge, regardless of race or ethnicity. The bond of brotherhood is global. And through tactical training and leadership training, we can bring the Gospel with us."
The full scope of this film and curriculum is yet to be seen. Pray for the numerous opportunities that have already arisen and will continue to arise. Pray also for the hearts of law enforcement as they engage in this program, that they will be transformed for the Kingdom of God.