It’s been five years since audiences last saw Pentecostal preacher Becky Fischer, who became infamous for her charismatic role in the 2006 documentary “Jesus Camp.”
Finally ready to explain what really happened behind the scenes of the controversial film, which left many Christians, and non-Christians alike, angry and disturbed, Fischer has resurfaced to the public sphere once again with her latest book, Jesus Camp: My Story.
Questions like: “Why did [she] allow the movie to be made in the first place?” and “Why didn’t she renounce [the film] like many Christian leaders thought she should?” and lastly “Whatever happened to the featured children?” will be among the many issues addressed in the book.
“I’m writing [this book] as much for my benefit and the benefit of the families who were in it as anyone else because there is so much more to what happened than what made it to the actual movie,” she penned in the preface.
“There are incredible stories yet to be told ... that just never was filmed nor has been told anywhere.”
The documentary, which followed several children attending a summer camp run by Fischer’s Kids in Ministry International (KIMI), portrayed life inside of an evangelical Christian community.
Capturing the kids’ fiery and tear-filled worship to ecstatic prayers in tongues, the film garnered much criticism for “indoctrinating” young children to become young warriors for Christ, training them to lay down their lives for the sake of the Gospel.
Many felt that the film’s directors, Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, unfairly cast evangelical Christians in an unflattering light.
“The 2006 movie was a sarcastic, biased, politically correct documentary that painted evangelical, fundamentalist, charismatic, and culturally concerned Christians as very shrill, warlike, and dangerous,” stated Dr. Ted Baehr, a syndicated columnist of MovieGuide and the Christian Film & Television Commission, in the forward to the book.
“It was an astutely negative portrayal of committed, enthusiastic believers like Becky, the featured children, friends and families.”
But what the filmmakers and producers may have intended for evil, God has used for good, Baehr shared.
“Many viewers were able to see past [the film’s] caustic edge to the faithful representation of passionate believing Christian children and their leaders. The inspiring emails from viewers included throughout this book reveal committed Christians who understood that, in spite of the attempt to tar and feather them as people of faith, they and the individuals featured in this film are actually wiser, more enthusiastic, and more committed than other segments of society. They should be admired.”
Though much time has passed since the release of the movie, the effects have been long lasting, according to Fischer.
“The movie seems to have taken on a life of its own and is still impacting people around the world after all this time,” she wrote. Just as much hate she received, she equally if not more received love from Christians who applauded her efforts and wanted to see how they could get involved in her ministry.
Following the film, her KIMI ministry gained much exposure, in spite of all of the attacks, and expanded explosively throughout the world. She did, however, shut down the featured summer camp “Kids on Fire” due to negative public reaction and vandalism on the premises shortly after the film’s release.
“I’m not entirely stupid. I knew the risks allowing a secular film company to do a film about us,” Fischer revealed in her first chapter. “But I had nothing to hide and peace in my heart about going ahead.”
All she wanted to do was let people “see for themselves, what it was like for the Holy Spirit to rest on children and to see their reaction to the presence of God.”
“I wanted them to see how powerful it was to watch children pray, worship, and do the miracles Jesus did when they were taught how on their level of understanding.”
Looking back, however, the North Dakota pastor admitted how she “highly underestimated how secular media, not to mention a secular audience, could so completely misunderstand and misinterpret nearly everything [they] said and did.”
But more than that, Fischer asked herself, “Had I somehow unwittingly brought shame on the Gospel of Jesus Christ and my fellow Christians?”
“There were few things about the whole experience that could bring tears to my eyes quicker than this one question alone to which I did not have [an] answer for a long time.”
But what she did know was that God was using the movie “as a great tool for expanding supernatural children’s ministry around the world,” she shared with the Bismarck Tribune.
“Only time will tell if I have been successful in meeting the needs of both," Fischer concluded in her preface, referring to the devout Christians and nonbelievers.
Currently, Fischer travels internationally, training directors for KIMI in Mexico, Australia, Kenya and India, as well as within the United States.
To date, over 900 leaders have been trained, ministering to approximately 10,500 children in 11 countries, according to her organization’s website.
Download the first chapter free here.