When a Grammy Award-winning Christian singer teams up with a reformed drug lord, the results should be pretty interesting- and the new film "I'm in Love With A Church Girl" is no exception.
Israel Houghton and producer Galley Molina united through Reverence Gospel Media on the new Christian drama, which is coming to theaters this fall.
After meeting over lunch to discuss music for "Church Girl," the unlikely pair became inextricably bonded after sharing their stories and vision for the film.
In addition to writing four songs specifically for the film, Houghton serves as producer and is vice president at RGM.
"I'm in Love with a Church Girl" stars Jeff "JaRule" Atkins, Adrienne Bailon as well as Stephen Baldwin in a real-life story that is close to Molina's heart- he began writing the script as an escape while in prison.
Speaking to The Christian Post, Molina and Houghton discussed their connection as well as their roles in making "Church Girl."
Molina, who has a background in music, first explained his storied history with crime as well as the life-changing realization of God's love, which compelled him to share his life story in "Church Girl."
"They think that once you become saved your life is just peaches and cream," said Molina. "For me, the storm of my life happened after. I gave my life to Christ and then I was indicted, I went to bed on top of the world and I woke up with the world on top of me."
"In one scene, the lead character in the movie is screaming at God, and I've been there," he continued. "I wrote it almost verbatim of what I went through. But I look back, and I see that God was saying, 'You're going to know me enough to get you through that,' and I know He's using me it was all part of His plan, so that fire was all part of the plan."
As for the real life church girl, Molina is now happily married to the woman who changed his life.
"She's probably looking for me right now," he said laughingly.
When it comes to the score for "Church Girl," the film could not pack more of a punch- Houghton penned brand new music drawn from the encouraging tale.
"There are four original songs written specifically for the movie, one is the lead single 'Sunday Kind of Love,' said Houghton speaking to CP.
"I'm really excited for this song because it tells Miles and Vanessa's story but it uses classic gospel lyrics as the verses, 'I love you as much I love Sunday morning and I love Sunday morning,' its that kind of idea," he added of the song, which is not unlike the timeless tune by Etta James.
"You just have to sing along, 'I wish every day were Sunday,'" said the singer before describing other pivotal songs in the film such as "I Surrender," "Providence," and "Worthy of My Praise," and a song with Leila Hathaway.
The soundtrack will be released Oct. 15- just days before the film's premiere on Friday, Oct. 18.
"The story is a universal story, a bad boy meets a good girl, his past is chasing him down, for every decision there is a consequence, a natural principle of life, beautiful redemption quality to the whole film, element of tension and release," noted Houghton, assuring audiences that the film will resonate strongly.
"You can't always get people to go to church with you, but you can pretty much convince anybody to come to the movies with you," he rationalized.
"The hope is that people will hear the message of the gospel and see the message of the gospel and ultimately respond to the message of the gospel, and that's really why we made this film- to share the gospel with people an give them an opportunity to surrender themselves," the singer added.
Molina went on to note the "God-honoring content" of the film as well as its lack of offensive language that will serve as a confidence booster in people who are seeking God and battling feelings of unworthiness.
"I hope that what comes out of this is people thinking, 'Maybe the bar isn't so high for me to go to church,' anybody can go to church- we want to inspire and help lead. And music and movies are some of the biggest platforms out there."
"I'm in Love with a Church Girl" was directed by Steve Race and hits theaters Oct. 18
Looking ahead, Molina and Houghton are working on "The Promise" "Boj" which is Job spelled backwards, and a Christmas comedy.
"It's the good kind of busy," said Houghton. "It's working smarter, not harder. We have worked really hard to open the film platform wider and challenged ourselves."