Filmmaking brothers Alex and Stephen Kendrick have a knack for creating films that speak into society’s most pressing issues, from fatherlessness to questions of identity.
But three years ago, when they began filming “Lifemark,” a movie following the true story of a teenage boy unexpectedly contacted by his birth mother, who gave him up for adoption 18 years earlier instead of going through with an abortion, they had no idea just how timely it would be.
The film is premiering just months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that usurped state laws and legalized abortion nationwide.
“This is our first movie based on an actual true story, and we just think that God's timing is perfect,” Alex Kendrick told The Christian Post. “Who knew right in our culture that Roe v. Wade would be overturned this year and that the opportunity for churches to step up in their ministry in this arena would be happening? We hope this movie encourages individuals and encourages churches and anyone just that's considering, ‘Do I have the baby? Do I place it for adoption?’”
Stephen Kendrick agreed: “We've seen with every one of our films that God's timing is perfect. And we're just in the bus hanging on for the ride … believers and churches and communities need to be reminded of the beauty and the compassion that they can demonstrate to girls that are in unwanted pregnancies, to the unborn that have no one speaking up for them, to families that will need to step up and demonstrate compassion and concern at every level.”
Starring Kirk Cameron and Raphael Ruggero, “Lifemark” is based on the true story of David Scotton, who embarked on a journey to meet the birth parents he never knew with the support of his loving adoptive parents. Through flashbacks, the film also chronicles how his mother, just 18 years old at the time, opted out of having an abortion just moments before the procedure and chose adoption instead.
For the Kendricks and Cameron, adoption is deeply personal: Stephen Kendrick and his wife welcomed a daughter from China via adoption, while Cameron’s wife, Chelsea, and four of their six children were also adopted.
“We just see the value of life,” Alex Kendrick said. “God is the Creator; He gives us the gift of life. Let's honor Him with it.”
Despite its positive, pro-adoption message, “Lifemark” has already received its fair share of pushback. Hollywood studios reportedly passed on the film — even though the Kendricks’ films, including "War Room," have historically grossed millions at the box office — due to its pro-life content.
The brothers acknowledge that the film’s subject matter is “sensitive,” but it’s nevertheless a topic the Church must address with “love and compassion.”
“Sometimes the truth is hard to process, but we've got to go there,” Steven Kendrick said. “And so we are now in a position to say that when Scripture says to stand for the innocent and fight for those who cannot fight for themselves, that … God knows us in the womb, and He knows us before we're born, He knows everything about us, and He values us, for us to stand for the unborn.”
The filmmaker added that in a post-Roe society, culture has become focused on the rights of the pregnant mother, ignoring the rights of the developing life inside the mother in the process.
“We do want to show compassion, and we want to show respect, but at the same time, we want to stand for life and that the path of adoption is so beautiful,” he said.
“We can't ignore the biggest picture that most abortions happen because people just say, ‘I don't want to be pregnant, and it's an inconvenience, and I want to get rid of this,’” he continued. “So life is beautiful. It is a gift from God. And we want to remind people that He is the maker of life, and He has a love for all of us and that there is hope for all of us. So we want to put the focus on the biggest part of this issue, and say, ‘We have to stand for life and when we want to do so with truthful love.’”
Still, “Lifemark” isn’t heavy-handed, featuring humor and action, including ATV riding, skydiving and cliff jumping. And, in true Kendrick brothers fashion, at the end of the film, the Gospel is shared along with resources for churches and those wanting to learn more about adoption.
The Kendricks stressed that they desire to demonstrate God’s love to everybody in every political perspective — “but that causes us to speak the truth, and truth, sometimes especially if you hate truth, is going to sound like hate.”
“We need to choose what's right in this situation,” Alex Kendrick said. “And every generation has to come to the revelation of reaching out and caring for those that can't care for themselves.”
The brothers challenged moviegoers to practice the Golden Rule laid out by Jesus in Matthew 7:12: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them."
“We're not here to guilt or shame anybody. We're here to help bring healing and hope and forgiveness and compassion,” Stephen Kendrick said.
“This film shows a wide perspective, really, of compassion. This movie doesn't really beat up abortion; it promotes adoption. And it shows what would happen if a girl who's afraid chooses courage, chooses compassion for her unborn child, even if she couldn't raise it herself. … We think people are going to love the movie. We think they're going to be entertained; they're going to be inspired. They will leave emotionally full and challenged, and they'll probably walk out thinking, ‘I know other people that I want to bring back to see this film.’”
Leah M. Klett is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org