Reality TV star Duane Chapman, who is better known as Dog the Bounty Hunter and stars in the upcoming Christian film “Hunter’s Creed,” opened up about his own grief journey and his belief in the power of words.
The new faith-based movie was partly inspired by the commonly asked question "Why does God allow bad things to happen?" The inspirational story, directed by Justin Jackola and written by Ken Miyamoto, is about keeping the faith even in the face of great personal loss.
“After losing his wife, a man reunites with his church buddies to film the hunting show they’ve always wanted to make together. Before long, he senses a dark presence in the woods eventually bringing him face to face with death — and his faith,” the synopsis of “Hunter’s Creed” reads.
Chapman, who knows all too well about the tragedy of losing a spouse, plays himself in the film. Others featured are Wesley Truman Daniel (“Second Samuel”), Mickey O’Sullivan, Ann Sonneville, John Victor Allen, James Errico and LaDios Muhammad.
The Christian Post spoke with Chapman, who talked about his involvement in the film and the power of speaking life, and revealed that unlike the “Hunter’s Creed” lead actor, he never once doubted God.
Christian Post: You play yourself in the film. Did it feel like acting for you or was this just something that came naturally?
Chapman: Well, no, even if you play yourself, you have to act a little bit. If you've been through something that reminds you of the character you can associate to what you did, that helps a lot and of course I could do that.
I played myself; sometimes it's harder to play yourself, I think, than it would be if I played a guy across the street. But I've heard a lot of actors say that, "Oh, that reminded me of myself, this and that, or I knew someone that that happened to." So I think the first thing we do is have an association and then it's easier to act.
CP: The filmmaker told CP in a recent interview that you had emotional moments while on set filming. Can you share a little bit about that?
Chapman: A lot of it was about death and what all of us felt about losing a spouse and of course, I had just went through that. That brought tears because you're heartbroken. So they did it at a perfect timing, not that they did it and planned it like that but the producer was very smart to pick someone who had gone through that so that he had a successful show.
CP: I thought the theme of grief and having to deal with grief as a believer is something that a lot of people do wrestle. Did you ever have moments like the character in "Hunter's Creed," where you did doubt God after because you lose the love of your life, and you pray for healing, and you believe God and then feel disappointment?
Chapman: I never doubted, OK, I don't doubt God at all! To be surprised or to say, "Why is this happening to me? Why didn't this happen?" Yeah, that's a normal feeling. And then you go to Scripture, and you listen to the voice in your mind that's in your head that says, "This has happened for a reason." The Bible says you're not to know why this stuff happened. Don't worry, this happened for a reason. So that's what I fall back on. Rather than "oh, there's no God, He don't heal no one," stuff like that, because that's not true.
CP: In the film, you tell the lead actor before he loses his wife to "love all the time, keep close, keep working, laughing and praying." If you had advice for somebody who might be going through that really difficult stage, what would you say to them now?
Chapman: There is a during the sickness, if that's what it is, there's a before the passing and of course, there's after. A lot of people are not given a warning. You tell the loved one goodbye, go to the store, and they get killed in a car wreck. That is horrendous. I went through that with my little girl.
To have a warning, to realize that it's coming and then to have faith that it's really not going to come, but it does come. There's all different emotions that fit each one of those areas. So it's completely different emotion, completely different things to do, it all depends on how that happened. I had a couple of Jewish people, my good friends that told Beth, "At least you know when this is going to happen." I love them both. They thought that was encouraging. And she's like, "Gee, thanks."
It all depends on what type of death that you have to face. The Bible says the last enemy that shall be whipped is death. So it is definitely an enemy and it's the last one. I think God saves the worst for the last so that everybody can witness because everybody else would be dead, that's evil. But the last evil one that will be whipped as the spirit of death and God saves that to the very end so everybody's watching.
CP: In the film, you quote the scripture, "Life and death are in the power of the tongue." You're in a new season in your life. What are some of the things that you're speaking over this season?
Chapman: You have to absolutely watch what you say. The Bible says several times in the Bible, the hardest member of the body (men think it's something else) to control is the tongue. For men, it ain't that. So if you can control that tongue, you can't say, "Weeds be gone and they're gone." But if you have symptoms of a cold, and you say, "I do not feel good at all, I have really bad cold symptoms right now I'm fighting off." Instead of, "I have the worst cold I have ever had." That means a lot.
Even in the world without faith, the Bible says there are things that are a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. A form of godliness, so even motivational speakers, most of them Christian, they teach, "Say things, right!" Don't say, "Oh, I could go broke overnight." Say, "I'm sure that I'll be blessed with more money." So the tongue not only in the world, in the spiritual world, is the most important thing but also in the non-spiritual world, it's also there. Everyone recognizes that.
As you know, I have my new [girlfriend] Francy. She's a very devout Christian and believes like I do about speaking — her words, in her lips. It's really funny because I'm dating her and I wake up not feeling good. She'll go, "Hi, how are you feeling?" And I go, "Hold on, let me get the phone in the other ear." "Are you feeling alright?" And I'm like, "Yeah." "Do you have anything?" "No." So it's funny that when you have someone that's close to you, that you love, that believes the same way in the same tongue, it really works, it's really happening. A lot of happy things happen, a lot of devastation that could have been, you go to God and say, "Why in the heck [did this happen?]" You didn't stop and say, "In Jesus' name I bind that, I cover that with the blood."
The tongue is the most powerful, the most of all the members of the body. So we control that, we control the spirits around us. There's good and evil, all day long, I think God has like a chalkboard and on one side is Satan and his imps and the other side is God and His angels. It's like a huge computer where if we [speak] it's blocked, the devil can't do it ... So constantly, there is that spiritual warfare, the Bible calls it, going along between us. So again, I really watch what I say.
The following is an exclusive clip of the film: