Evangelist and renowned author Josh McDowell is celebrating 50 years in ministry work by attending a three-day event centered on the movie premier of “Undaunted, The Early Life of Josh McDowell" at Chase Oaks Church in Plano, Texas, Saturday.
The docudrama chronicles McDowell’s traumatic childhood, which included living with an abusive, alcoholic father and being sexually abused repeatedly by a male farmhand working on his family’s ranch. “Undaunted” is planned for public release sometime after its premier.
The 50th anniversary celebration begins Friday with a dinner for McDowell’s family and friends at Southfork Ranch, the location setting for ‘80s TV show hit “Dallas.” McDowell is scheduled to speak during two worship services Sunday at Prestonwood Baptist Church, where he and his family attended while living in the Dallas area.
McDowell told The Christian Post that after giving his personal testimony thousands of times before audiences of all sizes, he was often told that the story of his life should be made into a movie.
“The movie turned out better than my wildest expectations. The production team was top-notch and it is very well done,” McDowell said. “In my life I have had to deal with homosexual sex abuse and the alcoholism of my father. I think this will get a lot more people talking about those subjects.”
John Hossler, CEO of Josh McDowell Ministry, helped produce the film and said in a trailer for the docudrama, “You really can’t put into words what you really feel when you get on a set like this. This is not just another film. People have heard about this project across the world and have said, ‘When you get it done, we want it in our language.’”
“It’s going to be a tremendous evangelistic tool to see people come to know the Lord as their savior in Jesus Christ,” Hossler said.
In part of his testimony published on his blog, McDowell said, “I was born in Union City, Mich., a little town of about 2,000 people, and my father was the town drunk, the town alcoholic. I hardly knew him sober until I was 20 years old.”
“I'd go to high school and my friends [would] make jokes about my father, downtown in the gutter making a fool of himself. They didn't think it bothered me, because I'm like some of you right here – you know, when you laugh on the outside when you're hurting on the inside.”
McDowell told CP that “Undaunted” will be a powerful tool for bringing up discussions of not only alcoholism among viewers, but sexual abuse as well. It is estimated that a child is molested in the United States every two minutes. Approximately one out of every four women and one out of every 11 men have been sexually abused, according to a fact sheet provided by McDowell’s ministry.
“I am very sure that this will get people to have more confidence to share their own testimony,” he said. “When I look into the audience, wherever I speak, I know that a third of them have suffered some kind of sexual abuse.”
In 1961, McDowell joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ International and a few years later became the ministry organization’s traveling representative.
He became well-known as a Christian apologist after the publication of Evidence that Demands a Verdict in 1972. McDowell’s More Than A Carpenter has more than 15 million copies in print in 85 languages. His book The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict was named by World Magazine as one of the 20th century’s top 40 books and one of the 13 most influential books of the last 50 years on Christian thought.
For more than 40 years, the Josh McDowell Ministry, a division of Campus Crusade for Christ International, “has focused on serving and equipping churches, pastors, families and people everywhere in raising generations of purpose-driven Christians who know what they believe, why it is true, and how to live out their Christian faith,” according to the ministry’s mission statement.
When asked about what it was like to view the final cut of the movie, McDowell said it was not easy.
“I cried. I had tears streaming down my face,” he said. “When I saw the actual scenes of my life being played out before my eyes it was very difficult.”
Award-winning filmmaker Cristóbal Krusen, who directed the film, and executive producer Douglas Maddox are hosting the premier.
“The movie is less about Josh McDowell and much more about promoting Jesus Christ,” Krusen said.