This article was submitted by a contributor, and is for informative purposes only. Any views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Christian Movie Connect.

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Illinois Church Expanding Christian Preschool and Church Lobby

In Mattoon, Illinois, a Christian church is expanding its preschool program.

The Broadway Christian Church completed a 15,000-square-foot new addition to the school that has much more space for Sunday morning children’s activities and its daily Sunshine Preschool program.

During a two-year period, between 2011 and 2013, roughly 4 million kids attended preschool. These kids need plenty of space to play, learn, and roam. Expanding both the church and the preschool classroom areas will provide major benefits for children and adults who go to church.

“In general, the church was cramped on a Sunday morning,” said Ian Stamps, lead Minister of Broadway Christian Church. “It just felt really packed.”

The new addition will feature a much larger church lobby where people can host group gatherings when church is not in service. There’s even a new coffee shop within the lobby and plenty of seating and space.

The church was originally 20,000-suqare-feet, but with the significant growth in the kid’s programs over the years and more people coming to the parish, classroom and worship space has been limited, making a 15,000-square-foot addition necessary.

The Journal Gazette and Times-Courier reports that both the students and teachers at Sunshine Preschool are excited about the new additions and the possibility for more learning and studious activities.

“We love it,” said Jenny Canfield, coordinator at Sunshine Preschool. “It’s very nice.”

Now, rather than having the preschool classrooms spread out throughout the entire building like before, they are now much more centralized, which makes it much easier for all the students to gather for assemblies.

There are many benefits of a private preschool education for Christian children, including some of the best academic environments around, the ability to teach positive learning, better school discipline and safety precautions, and a strong sense of values and community.

Christians Helping Families Rebuild Their Lives From Texas to Iraq

Christian individuals, couples, and organizations are helping rebuild communities from Waco, Texas to Ebril, Iraq.

Chip and Joanna Gaines, stars of the HGTV show “Fixer Upper,” have been helping families find, purchase, and remodel new homes. They’ve been renovating homes around Waco, Texas for years and have recently seen their stardom increase.

“We were joking, ‘We’re like zoo animals here,'” said Chip, “‘We’re inside this fence and I think we’re the animals.'”

The Gaines have been renovating homes long before their hit TV show began airing, and according to Deseret News Faith, they actually planned on leaving the heavily Christian city of Waco to help people all around the U.S., but HGTV swept in and encouraged them to stay in Texas and help families on national television.

“It’s just such an honor to be in this position, and the opportunities, the things that come with this that we would’ve never dreamt of in a million years, I think certainly overshadow the fact that there are some downsides to this, and those are somewhat obvious,” Chip added.

The Gaines help homebuyers around Texas, 32% of which are likely first-time buyers, assisting struggling families with the move and renovations.

On the other side of the world, in Ebril, another group of Christians look to assist displaced Iraqi Christians who lost all their belongings to terrorists.

Iraq’s largest Christian-populated city, Qaraqosh, was overrun by terrorists in 2014. Christian families living in the city had to leave their jobs, their homes, their possessions, and their lives to flee to a safer place.

According to Christian Today, many families fled to Erbil and are safe there, but they continued to struggle because they didn’t have what was necessary to begin a fresh start in life.

“Erbil is unlike Qaraqosh,” said Hakim, a displaced Christian. “I used to have good reputation in Qaraqosh and people trusted me there. I have to build the same trust here.”

International Christian Concern is assisting these displaced Christian families throughout Iraq, helping them rebuild their businesses and their lives.

“Your organization did not know me,” said Ahmed, another displaced Iraqi Christian, “but you decided to help me. It’s really a blessing to come to know kind people.”

Selena Gomez Enters Christian-Based Rehab Center for Depression

Pop singer Selena Gomez has checked into rehab for treatment of depression. This comes a month after Gomez cancelled her Revival Tour, claiming she was suffering from depression, panic attacks, and anxiety brought on by her Lupus diagnosis.

The singer has been battling Lupus for the last couple of years, and has decided to enroll herself in a rehabilitation center to focus on herself. According to TMZ, Gomez will be in the center for 60 days.

The source also tells TMZ that the east coast rehab center focuses on Christian values. They said, “The rehab has a Christianity-based track, which might have been appealing given her religious background.”

Treatment at this facility will focus around intense therapy along with therapeutic activities including horses. It is a women only center, and the patients will be allowed to leave to go on day trips in the surrounding area once a few weeks has passed.

Above anything else, Gomez’s personal security will not be jeopardized. Her security team has upped protection at the facility since she entered, and there will be no paparazzi allowed.

The name of the rehab center has not been revealed, but Selena’s media team strongly insists that the pop singer is not in rehab for treatment of drug-related issues.

However, this pop star has been dedicated to her fans throughout this ordeal and has not allowed them to know that anything was wrong. Her discretion could perhaps be the result of her amazing glam squad including her hairdresser Marissa Marino. Of all the 770,000 self-employed hairdressers in the nation, at least one has to work for Selena Gomez and her recent concert looks are proof of Marino’s high level of skill.

Marino and Gomez have come together and revealed the inspiration for the tour’s looks, which include 1960’s movie stars Sophia Loren, Brigitte Bardot and Anna Karina as the influence for her stunning looks.

Once Gomez leaves rehab, she plans to continue her tour where it left off.



Evolution and Creationism Put at Ends in ‘Finding Altamira’

Paint and coating products are a large market. In fact, in 2014, the U.S. exported $2.3 billion in paint and coatings alone. The uses of paint and coatings date back thousands of years, however, and one painting challenged the faith of an entire community.

Hugh Hudson chronicles the discovery of paleolithic-era cave paintings in northern Spain in 1879 in his newest film, Finding Altamira, starring Antonio Banderas as Marcelino de Sautuola. de Sautuola was an amateur archaeologist, who was led to the Cave of Altamira by his eight-year-old daughter. What was found there would change science and religion forever.

Cave paintings, which dated back thousands of years, were discovered inside Altamira, a 1,000-meter long tunnel, filled with images of bison, deer, goats, horses, as well as the hand prints of the artists themselves. The paintings appeared to date back before the creation of Adam and Eve, angering many clergymen and Christians worldwide. A dogmatic Monseñor (Rupert Everett), disputed de Sautuola’s claims publicly, causing great stress between the scientist and his wife, Conchita (Golshifteh Farahani).

de Sautuola’s acceptance of Darwinian principals put him at deep odds with his loving wife Conchita’s (Golshifteh Farahani) Catholic faith. Although she kept her faith throughout her life, she defended her husband, even after his passing.

Initially, de Sautuola was accused of forgery, due to the supreme quality of the paintings. It wasn’t until more cave paintings had been discovered in the early 20th century that he was believed. Unfortunately, he had passed away 14 years prior, and died before his reputation was resuscitated. Many now refer to the cave as “The Sistine Chapel of Prehistory.”

Even now, scientists are unable to pinpoint the exact year that the paintings were created. This discovery still causes great stress between the religious and scientific community, arguing whether they can coexist.

Pure Flix and Chill: Why Many Parents Are Choosing This Family-Friendly Service

Finding a family-friendly movie that everyone will enjoy can be a major challenge these days. Fortunately for concerned parents, there is a solution. Pure Flix is an entertainment service with a faith-filled mission, and it is both safe and enjoyable for kids and adults alike.

It wasn’t all that long ago that any time a movie came out of Hollywood — it didn’t matter whether you were five years old or 95 years old — that movie was a safe movie to go to,” said Greg Gudorf, the CEO of Pure Flix Digital.

As Hollywood started to run with less savory content full of violence, inappropriate language, and sex, it left a gap, explained Gudorf. Pure Flix fills that void.

“People wanted to bring something they could trust into their home in the form of a video service, and that’s what we started paying attention to,” he said.

Unlike other entertainment services, Pure Flix meets the needs of consumers beyond entertainment. In addition to television shows and movies, Pure Flix provides educational services.

“We found a whole area of resonance with consumers who home-school, and in that space the content they want is content that supplements their home-school curriculums,” explained Gudorf.

To Gudorf, his company is much more than a business. He considers it to be a positive mission.

He told LifeZette, “Consumers [send] us notes that say, ‘I’m so thankful you’re here. I’m so glad there’s an alternative. I’ve been waiting for this – I’ve loved your movies, now I can watch them at home. This makes all the difference for my family, this works for my kids.’ Those kinds of comments – they just hit the heart. They pull on the heartstrings.”

In today’s digital world, there are many options when it comes to bringing television and movies into your home. At the same time, the rise in the cost of living has outpaced income growth, so many people are looking for ways to save money. Rather than spend your hard-earned cash on entertainment services your kids can’t safely watch, why not try a family-friendly entertainment source like Pure Flix?

Minister Rick Reyna Returns to Hollywood Roots with Edgy New Film

In America, there are 68 million people who are living with criminal records, but despite the odds, many reemerge from rock bottom and turn their lives around.

In Rick Reyna’s recent film The Rally LA: Breaking the Curse, Sarka Sr. (Kenneth Copeland), the head of a powerful crime family, renounces his power and returns to the old country and restores his faith in the Lord.

Reyna, who wrote and directed the film, also stars in it as himself. Along with his wife, Nettie, Rick heads an organization called “Rallys for Christ.” Their goal is to share the word of Christ and guide His children toward salvation.

In The Rally: LA Reyna does not break away from his real-life character, as he organizes a local rally, with the help of Rallys for Christ, to bring hope and faith to the community, devastated by the crime family.

Reyna turns to Sarka upon his return, as Sarka’s son, Junior (T-Bone), has no desire to renounce his birthright as the now-head of the family’s drug trafficking business. He continues to bring drugs and violence to their Los Angeles community.

Rallys for Christ must be careful, as Junior continues to threaten their efforts, because he knows that the rally will be effective in mending the destruction that his family has caused.

Rick Reyna worked as an actor in Los Angeles for years before devoting himself to the work of God. He worked as a photo double for Al Pacino, as well as appearing in two Pacino films, Heat and The Insider.

Reyna brings an edge to the silver screen that is rare to find in Christian films. He brings the genre, so well established by classics like Scarface and The Godfather trilogy to the light, for undeniable entertainment and the message that no power is more powerful than the love of God.

Mel Gibson’s New Movie Tells Story of World War II Conscientious Objector

Every year, more than 11 million children and adults head to camps — but they’re nothing like the army training camp where Desmond T. Doss, a World War II veteran, stays in the Mel Gibson’s new film.

Hacksaw Ridge, which premiered in at the Venice Film Festival, is the real story of Desmond T. Doss, a World War II veteran and conscientious objector. He refused to carry a weapon, but exhibited bravery on the battlefield that saved the lives of at least 50 men in his battalion during the Battle of Okinawa.

The picture follows Doss, played by Andrew Garfield, from his beginnings in the Blue Ridge Mountains. When he is drafted, he faces a unique dilemma: as a Seventh Day Adventist, he is opposed to killing another human being, but as a patriot, he is eager to serve his country.

Although Doss attempts to be a medic, his sergeant, played by Vince Vaughn, comes down on him, hard. Doss continuously falls back on his faith to keep him going through the most difficult parts of his experience.

As Doss (Garfield) says in the trailer for the film, “While everybody else is taking life, I’m going to be saving it.”

In a press conference about the film, Garfield commented on his character: “The beautiful thing about Desmond Doss is that he was a very simple man, in the sense that he had a knowing. He had a knowing in his heart, in the core of his being, that he was not supposed to take another man’s life.”
The drama was received with an unusual ten-minute standing ovation upon its release at the Venice Film Festival this past weekend.

New Kevin Sorbo Movie Follows Atheist Who Converts to Christianity

High-quality LED bulbs can provide upwards of 25,000 hours of light in a useful life, but Kevin Sorbo’s new film, Let There Be Light, focuses on a different kind of light entirely.

Sorbo, who originally found fame in his role as Hercules in the hit television series of the same name, is starring in a new film about a man who converts to Christianity after a near-death experience.

Sorbo worked with his wife, Sam Sorbo, to co-write the screenplay for the film and direct the project as well.

The couple, along with country singer Travis Tritt, recently wrapped a three-week long shoot in Birmingham, Alabama for the film.

Already having starred in the surprise box office hit God’s Not Dead as an atheist professor who ends up converting to Christianity, Sorbo now has a reputation for supporting Christianity-based films.

According to Sam Sorbo, this new film has the potential to reach a wide audience.

“From a business perspective, if you do the right faith-based movie, you’re going to reach a lot of people,” she explained. “The idea [for this movie] hit me … I wonder what would happen if the world’s greatest atheist had a come-to-Jesus moment?”

However, this isn’t the first time Sam Sorbo has spoken about the potential Christian-based movies have for success in contemporary society.

In September 2014, she participated in a radio interview in which she further explained her stance on the Christian film phenomenon.

“I don’t think it’s an ‘us vs. them’ sort of mentality,” she said. “But I live in this world. I’m out here, so I see what’s going on.”

She also spoke about people “waking up” to the idea of Christian films, especially after the success of a select few.

“I think they’re finally starting to wake up. With the success of ‘Son of God,’ ‘Heaven is for Real’ and certainly ‘God’s Not Dead,'” she said.

On the film, God’s Not Dead, she said, “It was a surprise to understand the amount of support a good faith-based movie can garner.”

Her new film, however, tackles the issue in a new way and has people excited for the next faith-based film success.

Let There Be Light is set to be released in 2017 during the Christmas season.

Britney Spears and Ellen DeGeneres Team Up and Donate to Louisiana Flood Victims

Celebrities and Louisiana-natives Britney Spears and Ellen DeGeneres have teamed up to help victims of the Louisiana floods that occurred earlier in the summer.

The two celebrities have both donated $125,000 to ongoing flood relief efforts.

Spears, who grew up in Kentwood, Louisiana, posted an auction where fans can donate $10 to the state’s flood victims to her Facebook page earlier this summer.

In addition to the opportunity to donate, fans also received a chance to attend the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs), meet her, or win her outfit from the performance at the show.

First prize consisted of a trip to New York to attend the VMAs as well as the opportunity to see Spears perform and participate in a meet-and-greet.

Second prize was a chance to win the outfit Spears sported during her VMA performance, as well as a signed copy of her upcoming album “Glory.”

However, that isn’t the only contribution that Spears made to the relief effort.

In August, the pop sensation donated $125,000 to the Louisiana Red Cross so that the organization could purchase a new emergency response vehicle.

Approximately 44 to 65% of all ER episodes can be treated at an urgent care center, but without the appropriate response vehicles, many flood victims were unable to receive that kind of affordable care.

While Spears donated to emergency response funds, DeGeneres focused her donation on a different area of flood relief.

The television host and Finding Dory star received a letter from Betsey Baldwin, a physical education teacher at Baton Rouge’s Galvez Middle School, which was overwhelmed with over two feet of water.

The school’s 620 students were forced to study at another nearby school after the flooding.

“I thought of one person that would help me, and it was you,” Baldwin said in her letter.

Upon receiving the letter, DeGeneres donated $125,000 through the company Shutterfly to aid Galvez Middle School’s recovery.

Celebrities far and wide have answered the call to donate to the Louisiana flood relief efforts, including Taylor Swift.

Swift donated $1 million to flood relief efforts, noting the support she received from Louisiana on her 1989 world tour.

“We began The 1989 World Tour in Louisiana, and the wonderful fans there made us feel completely at home,” Swift said. “The fact that so many people in Louisiana have been forced out of their own homes this week is heartbreaking. I encourage those who can to help out and send your love and prayers their way during this devastating time.”

Newest Technologies Allow Christian Businesses to Give Back

The tech world is all a-flutter with Apple’s newest announcement: the iPhone 7 and 7 plus will soon be available on the market.

Although this release marks the smallest amount of design change in any iPhone generation, it’s still creating quite a buzz. These newest models sport higher quality cameras, a slightly sleeker design, and are now resistant to water and dust. The most notable change of all is that Apple decided to get rid of the headphone jack, opting instead for futuristic-looking wireless earbuds.

The way in which the announcement was made was impressive in and of itself. Apple introduced all of the features of the iPhone 7 family in a 120-second video, thus ensuring the shareable value of its newest addition.

The newest gadgets mean big business, and not just for the ultra-hip. It’s been projected that by this year, revenues of consumer electronics and appliance rentals within the U.S. will reach approximately $5.7 billion.

But there are some Christian companies who are using this technological boom to give back to the community. Trident Technology Solutions, a North Carolina-based IT company, recently made the decision to restructure their agreements with non-profit Christian companies with which they work. They will now charge only for the market cost of the products and services they provide; they will not profit from these relationships.

Trident has also provided churches with computers, projection screens, wireless Internet, and more. Additionally, the company dedicates their time to helping Christian organizations increase their technological knowledge and to revamping their overall technology plans, so that the organizations can focus on what really matters: the faith.

Although the company founders acknowledge that there’s nothing wrong with Christian businesses profiting from one another, they feel that because they are fortunate enough to be in a position to give back to the community, they see it as their personal duty to do so.

Critics Call ‘The Fight Within’ Too ‘Predictable’ and ‘Generic’

Released last Friday, The Fight Within has been described as “an action-packed mashup of faith, fighting and romance.” The movie tells the story of mixed martial arts (MMA) champion Logan Chandler and his struggle with grief and self-doubt after the death of his father. Chandler nearly gives up on MMA but is compelled to return to the ring after a vengeful opponent threatens the woman he loves.

Yes, woven throughout is a love story between Chandler and a lovely young Christian woman, Emma Jones. Like the 16.8% of the American population that moves ever year, Emma is relocating to Africa to carry out her missionary work. Before she leaves, though, she introduces Chandler to the pure joys of being a faithful and dutiful Christian. Born again, Chandler commits himself to a nonviolent lifestyle, abandoning his former life as a fighter.

Of course, it doesn’t last long. Hayden Dressler, a rising MMA star wants revenge after losing a fight to Chandler years earlier. When Chandler refuses to fight, Dressler vandalizes his car and invades Emma’s apartment. Angry and desperate to protect Emma, Chandler returns to his MMA roots.

The underlying message is made clear: follow God’s call and play your part in His grand plan. However, critics are more or less unimpressed.

“Ultimately though, The Fight Within is too generic as a sports flick, and too pro forma as a tract. There’s more vitality and humanity in the closing-credits blooper reel than in anything in the actual picture,” said Noel Murray of the Los Angeles Times.

Joe Leydon of Variety said in his review, “Scene after scene (or, if you prefer, round after round) of The Fight Within is clunky and didactic, and the movie as a whole has appreciably less mainstream appeal than several other recent, and much better, faith-based dramas.” He went on to call it “ponderously predictable,” further stating, “It doesn’t help much that some on-the-nose dialogue sounds like it belongs in a parody of faith-based entertainment.”

Overall, critics agree that the film misses the mark.

Are Christian Films Becoming Increasingly ‘Epic?’

Some families bond over rollercoaster rides and corn dogs at the amusement park, others enjoy leisurely boat rides on the lake, and a whole 13% of outdoors enthusiasts take family camping trips to spend more time with their kids and spouse. We all do “family fun” in our own unique way. Some families wait in anticipation all year for those huge summer films to hit the big screen.

One of the most anticipated movies of the summer is the remake of the classic 1959 film, Ben-Hur. Though the story — based on the best-selling 1880 novel by former Civil War General Lew Wallance — has been brought to the big screen multiple times, it has never been told quite like this. Not only does the 2016 version promote a stronger Christian message, but the cinematography is also expected to be far grander and flashier than ever before.

One of Hollywood’s most prominent Christian couples, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, have produced a number of successful Christian-themed projects, including The Bible, A.D.: The Bible Continues, and Son of God.

Ben-Hur is a big action epic, with a through-line of Jesus interacting with the major characters in our story. It blends an exciting action epic with a message of love and forgiveness coming from Jesus,” Burnett told Catholic World Report in an interview.

Biblical epics have become a genre of their own, particularly since Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ was named in 2006 by Entertainment Weekly “the most controversial film of all time.” Yet, the film sparked a renewed interest in biblical cinema, ultimately leading to “The Year of the Bible” in 2014, considered as such because of the four big epics that hit theaters that year — Son of God; Noah; Exodus; and Mary, Mother of Christ.

As producers have done with the epics that came before, Burnett and Downey hope to inspire their audience. “The 2016 film is a story for a new generation,” said Downey. “We have a great opportunity to reach our young people with the story of Jesus, and bring them to the foot of the Cross.”

Ben-Hur is scheduled for release on August 19. The film is rated PG-13, so at your discretion, bring your kids along and make it a family affair.