Saddleback Church’s popular addiction program, Celebrate Recovery, will soon hit the silver screen.
Filming for "Home Run," a story about overcoming trials and tribulations, recently wrapped in Oklahoma and is slated for release next September. It tells the story of Cory Brand, a baseball star who battles and defeats alcoholism with Saddleback's Celebrate Recovery initiative. The megachurch launched the popular 12-step Christian program in 1991, and it now counts over a million graduates who have overcome past addictions in their lives.
In an interview with The Christian Post, executive producer Carol Mathews explains how "Home Run" shows the reality of rounding the bases in personal struggles with addiction. More importantly, she adds, it reveals that God is the only one capable of catching us when we fall towards rock bottom.
CP: Your upcoming movie "Home Run" is about a professional baseball player battling alcoholism. What was it about that story that appealed to you?
Mathews: We had this idea of a baseball player who was wayward and returned to his hometown where a mentor figure shows him the error of his ways. I wanted to explore addiction and a message of healing. The player soon became an addict entering a 12-step program based on Christ. He sits in these sessions and Christ is revealed to him through other peoples' stories and moves him forward.
I wanted to address chemical addiction in particular. Alcoholism is unfortunately relatable. There's a huge population that abuses alcohol. It's not alcohol that's evil. When anything – food, alcohol, gambling, etc. – replaces God in our life and the peace and self-control he gives us, then it becomes a problem.
This is something that happens in real life all the time. That was so much more organic to me. While the main story is fictitious, the testimonies we used are all true. It's really neat seeing these stories reveal God's heart.
CP: What was the most memorable scene in the movie? Why?
Mathews: One big scene is where the main character, this disgraced baseball player, returns home and encounters his former girlfriend. The two of them have it out over his alcoholic, abusive father and how it's affected him. The truth of a situation like that is deep and I just found it poignant to have one character yelling about how she can't fix the other.
The unresolved pain in our lives will hurt other people. All of us have something we're ultimately struggling with. Only God can heal us. What's beautiful is that when he does, the healing is totally complete.
CP: Has working on this movie changed your life in the long run in any way?
Mathews: I decided I'd go through the 12-steps of Celebrate Recovery myself. It was an amazing growing experience. I've forgiven myself for things in my past I never thought I would and realized I use things to replace God's comfort in the present.
I'm not a drug or alcohol addict so I wasn't sure if a 12-step program would work for me. I realized it does. I used to always want to fix everything and take control of every situation. I have drastically reduced my energy in trying to fix other people. I'm working on me and everything else is God's deal.
I was constantly trying to fix my husband for example. I had quite the long list of plans for him. This program revealed that I have issues too. We can't control our tendency to do the wrong thing on our own. We need God's help for that. There's a lot more peace in our home now. I'm not perfect in my journey but I've grown fast. It's a revelation. We've been married almost 11 years now.
I really truly believe God is doing something special with the program in this film. For us to be a part of that is humbling and intimidating. It's so clear to me he's at work.
CP: The main character of "Home Run" defeats his alcoholism by joining Celebrate Recovery, a real-life recovery program launched by Saddleback Church. Why did you choose the Celebrate Recovery over other programs?
Mathews: I'm thrilled to underscore Celebrate Recovery in this film. I think it's exactly what God wants. He wants us to be meek and humble in expressing our sins to each other. For people who believe that Jesus is the one Lord or are exploring Christianity, Celebrate Recovery is poignant for them.
I once met a cocaine addict who said he'd gotten clean in Abusers Anonymous and sober in Celebrate Recovery. It pushes folks to understand why they abuse things in the first place and bring it to the Lord. That process brings sobriety to the mind so that they're not simply always resisting the need to abuse something instead.
CP: Why do you think including Christ's message is necessary in a program like Celebrate Recovery?
Mathews: I believe that only God's grace gets us to the other side of our pain. We experience that grace when we draw close to him through praying, reading his word or anything else that fosters a closer relationship with him. That's when we hear his voice and understand his nature. When you understand and grow closer to him, you want to be like him. It helps us to trust him and bring our brokenness to each other. I've seen so many miracles where people have experienced this and had huge healing from the addictions, pains and shames in their lives.
I encountered two people from Colorado who were addicted to cocaine and actually had their first child taken away from them due to their addiction. They entered Celebrate Recovery and have now been sober for ten years. They have their child back and have had two more. They're now state representatives for the program. God got a hold of their lives. That's just one story. There's so many more. It's amazing how God redeems these people.
CP: What's the most powerful thing Christ has done in your life?
Mathews: This is the biggest thing God has ever done with me. When you feel God moving in and around your life, it's humbling and it drives us to our knees. It's bigger than us and everyone involved in this film. I've never seen God's hand so often in a single program. Something special in me was triggered in Celebrate Recovery to hunger and thirst for more of God. I pray people seeing this movie walk of theater with the same experience.