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'God's Country Song' director reveals how losing daughter to heroin sent him on a mission to help others

God's Country Song
God's Country Song | PureFlix

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Christian walk isn’t always an easy one; often, it’s riddled with pain, brokenness and sorrow — and it’s necessary to highlight this reality in film and media to highlight God’s power and redemption. 

That’s according to the director and stars of the new PureFlix film “God’s Country Song,” who, in a sit-down interview with The Christian Post, reflected on how honesty in filmmaking can change hearts and minds, drawing viewers to the truth of the Gospel. 

“We all have heartbreak and issues, and I think we all want to relate to someone else,” Justin Gaston, who plays the lead in the film, told CP. “I think, especially as Christians, we need to be there with open arms; we're all messed up and all broken. We all are in need of a Savior. And just that honesty and admitting that, it’s a place where we connect with everyone instead of pretending to have everything together. … I think that being real and honest is just the way to connect with everyone.”

And “God’s Country Song,” now streaming on PureFlix, candidly addresses the reality that the Christian journey and the road to redemption are not always easy.

The film follows Noah (Gaston), a charming yet troubled country singer who is determined to make it big in the music scene. However, while on the road to success, he’s informed he has a 5-year-old son, J.J., he didn't know existed. The boy’s mother, who Noah barely remembers, has passed away, and he’s tasked with raising the child alone. Struggling with a dependence on alcohol and a fractured relationship with his own father, Noah is faced with an ultimatum: Should he raise his child or leave his family behind to see his country music dream fulfilled? 

For director Johnny Remo, telling a story that dealt with the reality of addiction — and the hope of recovery — was personal. The Christian filmmaker revealed that after losing his daughter to heroin several years ago, he wanted to use his gift of storytelling to help others who might be struggling with addiction themselves. 

“It’s tough. It's just something you never get over, you never forget,” he said of losing his daughter.

“We wanted to do something to let people know that you can talk to family, you can talk to people, that your loved ones want to help. You can talk to medical people, that's what they do.”

Gaston echoed Remo’s sentiment, stressing that though the world is broken, “you’re not alone,” and God’s power is made evident in weakness — a reality highlighted in the film. 

“I would hope [viewers] take away from this movie God's love for you, human, especially in your lowest moment. When we're weak, that’s when He is strong. … A lot of times, we're just going through the motions, and we're relying on our own strength. And when you are at that lowest moment, you're at a place where you're desperate, the amazing thing is that God didn't turn away from you in your pride and all those things. He was just always there."

The film also stars Academy Award nominee Mariel Hemingway, John Laughlin, Christopher Michael, Justene Alpert, JJ Miller and country music star Coffey Anderson ("Country Ever After"). Anderson and Gaston both sing in the film, which features 15 original songs, including the theme song, “Being The Man.”

Alpert, who plays Leeann, a social worker who has been caring for J.J. following his mother’s death (and eventually, Noah’s love interest), said she hopes the film's portrayal of overcoming struggles and relying on God's grace resonates with audiences who are navigating their own trials.

“Everyone experiences trauma or grief at some point in their life, and to show the messy part of that and the process of overcoming that is so important to show in films,” she said. “That's how storytellers make that change in other people's lives. And I think it's so important to tell people that you can't have a second chance and you're never alone.”

Released just ahead of Father’s Day, “God’s Country Song” also tackles the importance of fatherhood and sacrifice. Remo, who was raised by a single mother and had a fractured relationship with his own father, expressed hope that the film encourages men to step up and take the fatherless under their wing. 

“I had the greatest mom in the world, but it was very difficult for me because my mom could only teach me so much,” he said. “God gives you two parents for a reason, a very good reason. And she did the best that she could on the mom’s side, but you need that other side.”

A father of two girls himself, Gaston said his experiences as a Christian father who cares deeply about his children’s spiritual formation shaped his understanding of the complexities of Noah's role. 

“One of the greatest things that your children teach you is God's love towards you,” he said. “There’s nothing my children ever had to do. I've loved them before they were born, before they could ever say a word, and there's nothing that can take that away from me. In the same way, that's how God feels towards you. I didn't fully understand that, and I probably won't until I get to Heaven, but I'm getting a glimpse of that in my children.”

"God's Country Song" offers a refreshing and honest perspective on the Christian walk and reminds viewers that redemption is always possible. Remo said he hopes viewers find healing and hope in the story and walk away feeling less alone. 

“It’s OK to have an addiction. The love of your family, the love of God will get you through that. You just have to have faith and belief and talk about it,” he said. “So, that’s what we hope we did with the movie.”

"God's Country Song" is now streaming on PureFlix.

Leah M. Klett is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: leah.klett@christianpost.com

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