|Finding God in the heart of Hollywood|
|Written by Christine D. Johnson|
|Friday, 04 March 2011 03:16 PM EST|
Filmmaker’s gritty memoir shows how he learned to live by faith
TITLE: Faith in the Land of Make-Believe
AUTHOR: Lee Stanley
RELEASE DATE: March
QUOTABLE: "I think my book is honest proof that Christ is a modern-day God you can trust with your life, and He is still a God of miracles." - Stanley
By “providential accident,” Lee Stanley was called to a juvenile prison one day, and what happened there changed the course of his life. He tells the story of how he took on the juvenile justice system and ended up a multiple Emmy Award winner, in Faith in the Land of Make-Believe: What God Can Do … Even in Hollywood.
An honest account of Stanley’s life, the book shows that this Hollywood writer, producer and director didn’t always have it easy. He suffered a divorce, fought a battle with anger and endured the pronouncement by a professional that one of his sons would have to go into special classes so that one day he’d be able to live on his own—and through it all he learned how to depend on God.
“I didn’t know that the journey that He was carving out for me would lead me down the path that would end up at a red carpet at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre with the No. 1 hit movie in the world,” he said, referring to Gridiron Gang starring Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock, who also wrote the book’s foreword.
“I learned that Christ is who He says He is, but the one thing that I did not expect was that in the process Jesus would reveal exactly who I was and that in order for me to fulfill my God-ordained purpose on earth, I’d have to change—a change that only God Almighty could bring about,” he told Christian Retailing.
Saved after being invited to Jack Hayford’s California church, he told God, “If you’re not exactly who you say you are, I will drop you like a bad habit.” But he learned he could rely on God.
“He does not fail,” Stanley said. “I think my book is honest proof that Christ is a modern-day God you can trust with your life, and He is still a God of miracles. He’s exactly who He says He is.”
Stanley said that God promised him that he would take violent, juvenile offenders out to sea and make a film documenting the voyage, and he did just that, but it took years of wrangling with the judicial system.
“I took on killer kids, some of the most violent in the nation; the television and motion picture industry, because I believed in certain things that needed to get on the air; I took on the judicial system because I needed their approval to do some of the things I wanted to do on some of my projects; the world’s largest probation department; the public school system; social workers; (and) psychologists,” he said. “And I’ve had a roller-coaster ride of trials and tribulations and incredible victories. What I’ve learned in the last 34 years is that God keeps His word, and He is exactly who He says He is if you have the guts to trust Him.”
Despite having zero professional credentials to deal with juvenile delinquents and no money for his Desperate Passage documentary, he was successful in making it, but two years after filming, nobody would buy it. After getting mad at God, he realized that God would fulfill His promise.
Desperate Passage was the “film that nobody wanted,” but ended up being hosted by TV celebrity Michael Landon. It was No. 1 in primetime Nielsen ratings and won two Emmy Awards. For the TV special, he took seven hardcore kids out to sea with no guards, cops or probation officers—a feat for which it took him four years to get court permission.
“I didn’t want to jam Jesus down anybody’s throat, but I knew after spending time with kids in prison, that they were always watching their back, that everything was always us against them,” he said. “And I thought, you know, if I could get them out at sea without having to watch their back, No. 1—meaning, is anybody going to shoot them, kill them or stab them? And then let them experience life on God’s terms, and we set up a little microcosm of just that. There was no preaching. Our goal was just to give the guys a good time, and it changed lives.”
Like his films, Faith in the Land of Make-Believe “is not a book about wall-to-wall preaching,” he said. “It’s about my life in every area you can think of where I had to depend on God.”
“It’s terribly transparent and at times it’s terribly embarrassing,” he said. “But it touches every area of life, my marriage, working with violent kids, taking on Hollywood and what comes out of it is if you just trust Him, you can have your life fulfilled.”
Zondervan will support the release with a national publicity and Internet marketing campaign.
To order, call Zondervan at 800-727-1309, or visit www.zondervan.com.