faith hope love Bobby Richardson
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A South Korean Pastor’s Solution to Save Unwanted Babies Silverwood
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Darrell Stuckey Faith, Family and Football
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Two athletes: Bobby Richardson and Darrell Stuckey Two sports: Baseball and Football Two time periods: 1955-66 and 2010-present One message:
For former Yankee legend Bobby Richardson sharing his faith is second nature. Whether he was in the locker room, speaking at a crusade, preaching at the White House, or traveling to events, the All-Star would always take time to talk about his faith and Jesus Christ. Joined by his wife of 60 years for our interview, the humble ball player talked more about people and relationships than his titles and awards. And he definitely could have boasted, after all the guy went to the World Series seven times and won four of them and is still the only World Series MVP ever to be selected from the losing team. Not to mention his five Gold Glove Awards or that he was selected to the American League All-Star team eight times. Richardson was baseball royalty before the young age of 30. He had accomplished his athletic dreams and family became his focus. But his greatest legacy is his commitment to living for Christ with a fierce courage for evangelism. Also superstar living for the Lord is San Diego Chargersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Special Teams Captain Darrell Stuckey. He too spent more of our interview talking about how the Lord has impacted his life and sharing Christâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s love with others than about his records or accolades. Stuckey welcomed us into his home where we were blessed by his wife and two young kids. The Pro Bowler spends a huge chunk of his free time giving back to kids and speaking to youth. Whether you are a sports fan, or not, the stories both these men share and the integrity they display day in and day out are sure to give you some added inspiration this summer. Blessings, Kelli Gillespie
08 Bobby Richardson
18 Dead Sea Scrolls & Jerusalem 3D
Eternal Champion: Meet This Yankee Legend The Curator Behind the Exhibition and The IMAX Producer
26 Darrell Stuckey
NFL Standout Shares on Faith, Family and Football
The Digital Platform Changing the Face of Business with a Smile
40 Where Hope Grows
Actors Kristoffer Polaha and David DeSanctis
Saved at Shipwreck: One Familyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Near-Death Journey
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Pastor Lee Jong-rakâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Compelling Solution to Save Unwanted Kids in South Korea Captured on Film by Director Brian Ivie
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1962 World Series against San Francisco 08 Risen Magazine
Writer: Kelli Gillespie Photographer: Rob Springer
ew York Yankee legend Bobby Richardson says he has led a life that only God could have orchestrated. This second baseman spent his entire career with one of the most prolific dynasties in baseball history. He went to the World Series seven times and won four of them and is still the only World Series MVP ever to be selected from the losing team. Richardson won five Gold Glove Awards and was selected to the American League All-Star team eight times. And all of those accomplishments happened by the time of his retirement at a young age of 30. In the eleven years, from1955 to 1966, that his career spanned, Richardson had conquered the game and made relationships to last a lifetime. Respected by teammates like Yogi Berra, Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle, not only are these guys all household names, but Mantle would become best friends with Richardson who would later lead his friend to Christ and officiate his funeral. Richardson’s famous friends weren’t exclusive to America’s favorite pastime. He spoke at the White House on a couple of occasions and knew six U.S. Presidents: Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and George W. Bush. He shared the stage with Johnny Cash and traveled the world with Billy Graham. This summer marks more milestones in the blessed life of Richardson as he will celebrate his 60th wedding anniversary in June, and his 80th birthday in August. His wife Betsy is a note-worthy woman in her own right and together the devoted couple raised five children. There are many lessons that can be learned from the Richardsons when it comes to sustaining a marriage through six decades, raising kids to love the Lord and navigating professional sports with an unshakeable integrity, but the greatest legacy of all is their commitment to living their life for Christ with a fierce courage for evangelism. Most everyone knew Richardson was a Chrstian. From the way he carried himself in the clubhouse, to sharing his testimony with teammates, to fans getting copies of how he became a Christian on “Bobby Richardson Day” at Yankee Stadium. A scripture that best depicts Richardson’s outspoken faith is Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes…” This verse also happens to be what he often signs next to his autograph in copies of his memoir Impact Player. Risen had the privilege of having lunch with this humble superstar and his delightful wife to learn more about the South Carolina native’s upbringing, astonishing career, and valiant faith. risenmagazine.com 09
(l-r) Bobby Richardson & Derek Jeter
Bobby Richardson in Japan with Billy Graham Crusade
Interviewed exclusively for Risen Magazine in Rancho Santa Fe, California Risen Magazine: What was your family like growing up and when did your faith journey begin? Bobby Richardson: My home is Sumter, South Carolina, a small community right in the middle of the state. My dad was in the tombstone business and so was his father. He loved baseball and didn’t have a chance to play because he had to work, but he afforded me the opportunity of playing a lot of baseball when I was young. Although they didn’t have organized baseball, the Salvation Army sponsored some teams. I would make a bat out of a piece of wood and pick up some of those granite chips [from the tombstones] and throw them up in the air, swing and hit the chips and just envision the ballgame. My dad’s desire was to play in the major leagues and he just played sandlot around those areas. So I had that vision too. I not only played in the area at that age, but that is when I was introduced to the Lord. I had two great Sunday school teachers in the church that I grew up in, one was a farmer, and one worked for the power company. Just wonderful men who loved the Lord and you could see it in their life. Each Sunday they would present the Gospel in clarity. The teachers initiated a visit from the pastor of the church and he came over to my home on a Sunday afternoon. He too presented the Gospel and a plan for salvation. I understood it and I was ready to receive the Lord Jesus as my personal Savior. I was twelve years old and I have two sisters and both of them were in attendance; one made a decision then, one later. Then we were all baptized. Then I met this young girl that moved into town; she would sit on one side of the church and I would sit on the other side and I kept looking over [at her]. One day we decided to meet and we walked across – I say “we” because she had the same idea, I think – we just spoke and then went out opposite doors. [Laughter] She was playing softball and her coach introduced me to her and the funny part there is that we were at the fair and I followed her to ask her for a date and she stopped to ride the Loop-O-Plane, and I 10 Risen Magazine
thought, “I’m not going to do that! I’ll just wait and ask her later.” I just wasn’t ready for that. [Laughter] The two of us were married and she knew Christ not only as Savior, but as the Lord of her life. It really had an impact and we dated and I was in baseball at that time. I was in New York and I got sent down to Denver and we decided to get married, so I asked the manager for a week off so I could go home to get married in the chapel in the church we grew up in. The owner of the ball club said, “No way. Wait until the end of the season. That is the silliest thing I have ever heard.” I went to my manager, and he said, “Absolutely. Take the week, take as long as you want.” So we did, we were married, and when we drove back out [to Denver] and the sad part is that when I got there – I found a real nice place to live near Mile High Stadium – and said, “Betsy this is where you are going to live, but I have to go on a 17-day road trip. So I’ll see you in 17 days.” One year later, Robbie [oldest child] was born and we started our family. And then I did finally get to New York. RM: As a baseball player, you married your wife, Betsy, early in your career, and you mentioned starting you family, having five kids overall. How did that help you avoid the common temptations or challenges as a professional athlete? BR: Challenges is a good word. [Financially speaking] of the travel in baseball, number one, we would have to have three homes. My home is in South Carolina, my salary was $5,000 a year, when you equate that down to how many games you play it was $35 a game my first year in 1955. RM: Wow! It has changed a little bit. [Laughter]. BR: When I was 14 years old I got cut from my high school team my freshman year because I was late from playing basketball. But I made the Legion team and we won state, and regional, and playing in section play, Sumter was
1963 New York Yankees Top row (l to r) Elston Howard, Tony Kubek, Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford Bottom row (l to r) Bobby Richardson, Yogi Berra
1965: Newlyweds Bobby and Betsy Richardson in Denver
playing Richmond, Virginia in South Carolina, and before the last game that would send the team to the American Legion World Series, they took us to see a film. The name of the film was The Pride of the Yankees, it’s the story of Lou Gehrig, and Gary Cooper played him in the film-it’s a classic. Babe Ruth plays himself in the film. I remember seeing it and thinking, “What a great organization. I’d like to be a part of that.” It just so happens the next year, the New York Yankees had a farm club that had Spring Training in my hometown. Mayo Smith was the manager, he came out and watched me play high school ball – I did make the team, I 12 Risen Magazine
Bobby and Betsy Richardson celebrate 60 years of marriage
was 15 years old then – He came up to me after the game and said, “When you graduate high school, I’ll make sure you have the chance to sign with the Yankees.” They kept in touch and sure enough at 17, the day I graduated from high school, I was offered to sign with 12 of the 16 teams. If you got over a $4,000 bonus then you had to go up and spend two years on the parent roster [major pro team], which would be a waste of time for a 17 year old. I never thought about anything but signing with the Yankees. I didn’t think it might be harder to make their team. I signed and then was given a trip to New York to work out with the Yankees. I remember putting on that uniform as a 17-year-old, walking out on that field, and Frank Crosetti, our coach, had told me to field some ground balls and then come take some swings with the regulars. Then I’d sit in the stands after a shower and watch the game. I was to do that for three days. Well I remember fielding the ground balls and then I stood around the [batting] cage and I wasn’t about to step in front of Hank Bauer or Yogi Berra, and Mickey Mantle came up and put his arm around me and said, “Come on kid, step in here and take some swings.” It really started a friendship that lasted a lifetime. The Lord gave us a great relationship over the years and he finally came through for the Lord in a wonderful way. RM: So from that first day on the field, to being Yankee teammates, to officiating at his funeral, give us a glimpse of your relationship with Mickey Mantle. BR: I was just working out the first time we met and then I was sent to the minor leagues, so the next time I saw Mickey Mantle I was playing Class A ball in Binghamton, New York – which was a Yankee farm club – and the
Bobby Richardson fields a double play.
Yankees came to play us in an exhibition game. Mantle hit a homerun that day. Casey Stengel came over to me and said, “I’m having an instructional school prior to Spring Training and we want you to come be a part of that.” I did go and then I was mixing around with the Yankee regulars at that time and got to know them a little more. Then I got sent to Denver [to play] and [Yankee infielder] Gil McDougald got hit by a line drive and the Yankees called me up [to the major team] at 19 years old. So when I came back, the very first person to greet me was Mickey Mantle. My first day out, we were sitting in the dugout with our uniforms on and he said, “Now I’m going to play like I’m showing you Yankee stadium. In two seconds you are going to see about 10 reporters over here and your picture will be headlines tomorrow in all the newspapers.” Sure enough, they were there and the next day I was in the New York Times. [Laughter] He did that for me. I was only up 15 days and then sent back down. When I came up the next time, Mickey was just the friendliest. I quickly became a part of the team and everybody knew I was a Christian. It was kind of fun in the sense that they knew it, but they just lived their lives; we had a great rapport. For instance, the Yankees were the last team to fly[to games] and I remember on one occasion I had permission to fly back home and on two occasions the Yankee team had plane trouble, one time the landing gear wouldn’t go down and they looked around and said, “Richardson’s not on here, we’re in trouble!” [Laughter]. It was that kind of relationship. But to make a long story short, my whole career was with Mickey. My twelve years in New York he was there and we got to be close in this sense – I didn’t go out with him after ball games, he’d go out with Whitey [Ford]
and they would be drinking a little bit. I roomed my whole career with Tony Kubek, who knew the Lord, and we’d go out together and eat. We were known as the milkshake twins. We’d always clinch the pennant ten days before the season was over and [the organization] would hire detectives to follow the players. They tried to follow Mantle and Ford, but they would get in a cab and get out the other door and they couldn’t follow them. So they followed Kubek and me and we would go to the YMCA, get some popcorn and started playing ping-pong. So we were known as the milkshake twins and it stuck with us all those years. RM: You also officiated Mickey Mantle’s funeral and were instrumental in leading him to Christ. Many Christians have a non-believing friend they are praying for, what encouragement can you share as to not giving up, yet still doing it in a loving way? BR: It started when Roger Maris had a battle with cancer at 51 years of age. His wife called and asked if I would represent the Yankees and speak at his funeral in Fargo, North Dakota. I was able to lead him to the Lord before he died, and his wife and son. Mickey sat down by me after the funeral. He was a pallbearer and had been drinking a bit and he said, “I want you to have my funeral.” He wasn’t going to church at the time. I remember I had a friend that was a pastor in Minneapolis. Tony Kubek and I were scheduled to go to his church and then fly back in to try and make batting practice so we said to Mickey, “Mickey, we’re going to church tomorrow, would you like to come with us?” He said, “I sure would.” He was all dressed and ready and I said, “Mickey because you are here we are going to have to leave a little bit early. When the pastor gets to that point where there are three minutes left, we are going to have to walk out so you can beat the crowd.” Well risenmagazine.com 13
August 1955: (l to r) Bobby Richardson with Mickey Mantle
as soon as we started to walk out the pastor cut it off and came running out. He said, “I want pictures for my son with Mickey.” So we were late coming back and I remember Red Barber was broadcasting and he said, “Why don’t we start having devotions right here in the clubhouse? I’m a lay leader with the Methodist church and I’ll be glad to lead them.” So that was kind of the start of baseball chapel. And now every team has baseball chapel. Mickey heard the Gospel a lot, from a lot of different people. God was working in different ways. But every time after Roger’s funeral when I saw Mickey he said, “Don’t forget, you are to have my funeral.” Then there was a poignant interview on television where Bob Costas interviewed Mickey and he said, “I’ve been through Betty Ford [Drug and Alcohol Abuse Treatment Center] and I don’t drink anymore.” It took so much courage for him to stand in front of a national audience and say that. He said, “I’m no hero, I haven’t been a good husband, or father…” but he went on to say, “I still have a void.” People were praying all over because this was during the final years right before he died. Mickey had a liver transplant and was really feeling horrible and they [doctors] had checked him for cancer, but it was [appeared as only] a little dot and they didn’t catch it. So when they gave him the medication to keep his body from rejecting the liver it wasn’t good. I’m not exactly sure what happened, but it was during that time that Mickey called Betsy and me about five in the morning in our hotel room in Dallas and Betsy answered the phone and Mickey said, “Betsy, I’m really hurting. I want Bobby to pray for me.” We did pray and I used this verse, Philippians 4:5-7, “Delight yourself in God, yes, find your joy in him at all times. Have a reputation for gentleness, and never forget the nearness of your Lord. Don’t worry over anything whatever; tell 14 Risen Magazine
God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer, and the peace of God which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.” Betsy went out and spent the next two days with Merlyn [Mickey’s wife] while Mickey and I talked and as I left he said, “Now don’t forget you are to have my funeral.” Some two to three weeks later the call came and he had taken a turn for the worse and the family wanted Betsy and me to be there with him. Immediately, we were on a plane flying to Dallas. One more time I wanted to be bold in my witness, because I wanted him to spend eternity with me. When the plane landed I dropped Betsy off at the home and when I got to Baylor Medical Center where he was, he had a smile on his face and a couple of teammates had just left and he said, “I can’t wait to tell you this, I want you to know I’m a Christian, I’ve accepted Christ as my Savior.” I remember crying a little bit and saying, “Mickey let me go over it with you just to make sure you understand it.” I went over God’s plan of salvation: that He loves us, sent His Son the Lord Jesus to shed His precious blood, and promised in His Word that if we would repent and receive Him as Savior, we might have everlasting life. He said, “That’s just what I’ve done.” Well, I couldn’t wait to get back to the home where we were staying and share that with Betsy. We then went back to the hospital together and when Mickey saw Betsy he said, “Let me get comfortable.” And with IV’s in both arms, he reclined his bed and she knelt down next to him and shared her testimony of how she had come to know Christ and then she asked Mickey the question, “If our Holy God was here today and He were to ask you the question, ‘Why should I let you into Heaven?’ What would you say?” And he paused for a little bit, but then answered the question by quoting John 3:16 “For God so loved
1966 Family Christmas Card: Bobby and Betsy with their children (l to r) Christie, Jeannie, Ron, and Robby
the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” And he told the doctors he was ready and he had a real peace. And then I had the humbling experience of having his service. We had to make all the arrangements including finding the church. RM: That is so powerful. Moving back to your career now, you went to the World Series seven times and won four of them. You were even named a World Series MVP! It doesn’t get any bigger than that in baseball, yet you ended your career much earlier than you could have. What went into that decision? BR: I wanted to retire early. I was 30 years old. I had made the All-Star Team seven times, we had won nine out of the first ten years and I felt like my priority now was my young boys that were growing up without me. So Tony Kubek and I both decided that we would retire from baseball. We went to the Yankees [administration] and somehow one reporter found out about it and Sports Illustrated asked to do a special story where they would put us both on the cover and say, Yankee infield retiring at 29. They came over and took the picture. But to make a long story short, Ralph Houk came up to us and said, “I don’t want you both retiring. We are just bringing Bobby Murcer up next year and we want one of you two to play and break him in as an infielder.” So it was all set that Tony would do it and I would retire. But as it turned out, Tony got called into the [Army] Reserve program and playing touch football, he got a pinched nerve and Mayo Clinic said he had to retire. Ralph called and said, “Tony can’t play. We have a gentlemen’s agreement that one of you will play, will you play one more year?” I said, “I’d be glad to.”
The ironic thing is that when I decided to play, [the Yankees] gave me a five-year contract, one to play and four to decide what I wanted to do. Bobby Murcer got drafted [military] and came back with only two weeks left in the season, but the Yankees were just so gracious all through the years. I was the tenth Yankee to have a day at Yankee Stadium… Bobby Richardson Day… risenmagazine.com 15
16 Risen Magazine
that is hard to believe when there were players like Joe DiMaggio, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and so forth. My career is just unbelievable how it is all interwoven with so many contacts. Because of my relationship with the team when they gave me that five-year contract, I had to call them up three years later because I wanted to be the baseball coach at University of South Carolina. I had been invited to do that and I had turned them [the college] down twice, but the third time I decided I wanted to try it. I told them I needed to call the Yankees to get a release because I was still under contract with them. I called and they said, “If you want to you can still be our Major League coach, you can be our broadcaster, you can be our Triple-A manager.” And I said, “No, the reason I am getting out is the traveling.” The response was, “Well, give us a call and we’ll bring the Yankees down to play your ball club.” I said, “Okay!” Three years later we lost out to Miami by one run. I called Lee MacPail, General Manager of the Yankees, and I said, “Lee I’m ready for you.” He kind of hesitated and said, “We’re traveling North with the Mets, would it be alright if the Yankees and the Mets came and played your ball club?” And Yogi Berra was managing the Mets. So they came down and we played three games against the Yankees and three against the Mets, and they played each other and it put our team on the map. The next year we finished second in the nation in the College World Series and we were 51-4 going into the last two games of the College World Series. RM: You played on the most-celebrated Yankee team in baseball history with the likes of Yogi Berra, Roger Maris, and Whitey Ford and you were never shy about sharing your faith. When did you realize the importance of your influence with your teammates, and with fans? BR: When seven of them asked me to do their funerals. [Laughter.] No they didn’t ask, well some of them did. But really, I had a great rapport. I think the one thing I remember was my son Robby was in the clubhouse one day and Hank Bauer, a big right-fielder, Marine and tough guy, he grabbed Robby and said, “Come over here. Drink this beer so you can be big like me, you don’t want to be little like your Dad.” And I just very politely said, “No Hank, I don’t want him doing that.” And he came up and apologized and said, “I didn’t mean anything by it, I was just fooling around. I deeply apologize.” I just felt like I had a rapport with all the players. They voted me to be the player rep, which is like the team captain now. RM: Your influence went further than the locker room and all the way to the Washington, D.C. In 1970, you got an invitation from President Nixon to preach at the White House. How did this come about and what did speak on? BR: Rex Kern, an All-American football player from Ohio was going to do the prayer and I was going to speak or something like that and Jim Jeffrey, who was President of FCA [Fellowship of Christian Athletes], was there and we were all invited up by President Nixon. It went so well that President Nixon invited me to speak at a White House worship service. He was actually having worship service. He brought in Johnny Cash and we went [to D.C.]for that. He sent a plane down and he said, “This plane will seat… [I don’t how many], bring some friends.” So we took most of our family up and some of our friends. I remember what I spoke on, the subject was, To Win And Yet Lose. It was a time when we were going through some things in our life and it was how you win in the eyes of the world, but if you are not doing things unto God [then you lose]. And we didn’t know Watergate was going on at the time.
you know, places you’ve been, and accolades you’ve gotten. What stands out to you most as a highlight? BR: I think the biggest thing to me is that five times I’ve been on national television with Billy Graham – Madison Square Garden in New York, the Astrodome in Houston with President [Lyndon B.] Johnson in attendance, as I gave my testimony, in Hawaii, and then twice in Japan. So on five occasions I was with Billy Graham just sharing a short testimony and it was all because of baseball. Billy’s desire was to be a great baseball player, but he turned out to be a great evangelist. But he loved baseball. It’s a highlight because when you see the invitation [to accept God] given by Billy and you see all the people come out of the stands, and from the upper deck, all filing down to stand and receive the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, it is a thrill and just really something.
RM: A couple years ago you wrote your memoir, no doubt it allowed you to reflect on your life, of all the incredible opportunities you’ve had, people risenmagazine.com 17
The making of Jerusalem 3D, (l to r) Writer/Director Daniel Ferguson, and Executive Producer Jake Eberts.
18 Risen Magazine
Writer: Trish Teves Photographer: George Duffield
erusalem is arguably the most fought over piece of land in history. It is the center of the world for billions of people of faith. Inside the city walls, Jews, Christians, and Muslims live side by side, but in separate quarters. How did half the people of earth come to cherish the same tiny space? In Jerusalem 3D, Producers Taran Davies and George Duffield give viewers a rare glimpse of the iconic site through the IMAX medium. Risen got a chance to catch up with the two producers as they debuted the film at the California Science Center, which also offers museum goers a chance to view never-seen-before parchments at Dead Sea Scrolls: The Exhibition (see inset). The movie and exhibit paired together is being hailed as “a blockbuster museum experience.” Davies and Duffield explain why.
Interviewed Exclusively for Risen Magazine at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, California
Risen Magazine: In your movie, Jerusalem 3D, you try to capture how half the people in the world have come to cherish this same tiny space. George Duffield: We tried to capture Jerusalem’s universal appeal and give a taste of what it is like to live in Jerusalem today, by people of different faiths who call it home. We had a $9.5 million budget to try to accomplish this [Laughs]. These are Hollywood production value films, not just documentaries. In order to film some of the shots, we even brought in a helicopter from another country. RM: The viewpoint of the movie was, surprisingly, of three young females. Was this a coincidence? Taran Davies: We definitely started out thinking, “Wouldn’t it be lovely to hear about this part of the world from its youth?” That is, after all, our core audience at the Science Center and other science centers where this film plays. So, we set out to cast the film for kids. We interviewed a bunch of kids of all ages. But we found these three young women. We never intended to have these women tell the whole story, but they were clearly the most charismatic characters. And then, this was suddenly a way to tell a story from this part of the world in a fresh way – from its young women and the future. RM: Why the IMAX medium? TD: I just watched the film again and I’m watching some of those majestic shot sequences and I would make another film for five years, and raise that same amount of money, just to sit and watch that shot again. That to me is the most transcendent experience. GD: This is the most immersive medium in the world. If you want to reach kids, which is what this [experience] is about, then the IMAX screen in these museums is the single best way to do that. They sit here for 45 minutes – they can’t look at their Facebook pages, they can’t do anything else – and they are absolutely absorbed. You ask any current NASA astronaut and they
will tell you that they are in space because they saw an IMAX film about space [Davies laughs]. These films inspire people to do crazy amazing things and that’s why we love making them. We’re reaching people in a way that no other medium can. YouTube cannot do what these IMAX films can do. RM: Part of the movie making process is getting the permission to film certain places and people. With Jerusalem being so religiously and socially diverse, how complicated was that task? TD: The process of getting permissions was a three-year odyssey that involved getting cups of tea…and some stronger substances…with whoever we were meeting with, endlessly, until we had earned their trust. It was just a matter of convincing each community that we were going to show their story in a respectful manner. The medium of IMAX is very helpful in that sense because we were able to explain that the California Science Center would never show something that wasn’t evenly balanced and reasonable. But it was a huge amount of trips to Israel and a lot of smooth talking. RM: Were there any parts of the film that you couldn’t show? GD: The toughest part about telling any story is deciding what goes in and what stays out. At the end of the day you have to serve the arc of the story. There are a number of shots that hit the cutting room floor. For instance, some of the iconic places of the Bible didn’t make it in. RM: What was the toughest shot to get? TD: I’d say the most difficult shot was Ramadan. It was a really, really hard shot. It took five years to get, and we got it at the last moment. Without it, we wouldn’t have the Muslim high note. GD: Another element to making a film like this is silence. It’s finding room to just appreciate the visuals and be able to inhabit them without words getting in the way. I’ll bet half the people watching the film don’t even have a clue what was said by Benedict Cumberbatch [the narrator] because they risenmagazine.com 19
were so caught up in the visuals. [Laughs] RM: The actor Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, The Imitation Game, Star Trek into Darkness) was an unexpected triumph as narrator. Why him? TD: He was definitely our first choice. I called his agent and he was immediately interested in Jerusalem. The thing about Benedict is he’s a very thoughtful and clever person. He wanted to learn about the city. He wanted to be involved in the process. He showed up at the read through and he had already watched the film twice, and had a long list of questions. He was absolutely engaged throughout the whole process. Hats off to him, he does a great job. RM: One of the great things about documentaries is capturing a certain culture without them acknowledging the camera. With your massive IMAX cameras, how did you become invisible in all these communities? TD: [Taran and Davies both laugh] That’s definitely the editing process. I actually watch the film and see little people in the film looking at the camera and it really drives me mad! Do you know the bane of modern documentary filmmakers is the iPad? Because people think iPads are cameras, so they get into these special places and they hold up their iPads and all you see is 20 Risen Magazine
a forest of iPads! All I’m thinking is, “It’s a terrible camera and you’re ruining the experience for everyone else.” So, the answer is you want to get up high, you want to get above people, you want to get upfront, and you want to cut like crazy until you get the shot. However, IMAX is such a long running format; you have to hold the shots too. That amazing shot at the end with everything on fire and the guy coming towards you… we had three cameras working on that shot and everybody was filming all the time. We got that one shot without iPads or people annoying us. RM: Will Jerusalem 3D ever be produced in a format that we can watch at home? TD: Yes absolutely. But the key thing now is to experience it on the IMAX screen. GD: What’s so special about this experience is that Jerusalem is properly paired with the Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibit. To see this film on the screen and then to walk next-door and see the Dead Sea Scrolls is an unbelievable blockbuster museum experience. We don’t want to sell Blu-rays. We want to sell tickets to both experiences. RM: Is the ending of the movie a statement about peace? GD: We were very careful with the end. These girls are who they are; they live in separate quarters and this is their life. The ending, we believe, accurately reflects the status quo at the moment.
An Armenian Apostolic Priest during the Feast of the Transfiguration inside the Church of St. James in the Armenian Quarter. 22 Risen Magazine
A Greek Orthodox youth choir from the town of Beit Sahour sings in Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity, built on the traditional site where Jesus was born.
A group of Armenian Apostolic priests descends the stairs to the Chapel of St Helena in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
rusalem Dome Rock
TD: Our producer Jake Eberts, who produced Gandhi and Driving Miss Daisy, died tragically during this process. He said at the very beginning that we’ve got to have these girls come together at the very end. And one thing about Jake was that he was always right. So we had to have the girls come together. Then we shot the sequence of them coming together. And in the process of making this film, they become friendly and even promoted the film together in certain museums where it’s opened. We filmed a sequence of them being together and being friendly, but we felt that it was the filmmakers who wanted that sequence there, yet it really shouldn’t be there. In the end, we all felt like the sequence that best reflects their reality is the one that you see in the end of the movie. The thing about these films is you’ve got to be authentic. So, to answer your question, is this a film about peace? It certainly is. We want to take you to places to gain an understanding of things, immersing you in these different worlds in this ancient city. But it is what you make of it. I hate to be cryptic, but that is Jerusalem. RM: Did the girls write their own dialogue or was it scripted for them? GD: The girls very much wrote their own dialogue. Our director spent a lot of time with them and got out of them what it was that they wanted to represent about Jerusalem. Of course we helped them with the exact language, but this was their thinking and their thoughts.
RM: What have the people in Israel who helped to make this film thought about it? GD: The film has not yet shown in Israel. We’re waiting for an IMAX theater to be built that can show it in its splendor. TD: The reception so far has been really very positive, especially for making a film that could be considered to be very political. In fact, the film this past year has won “Best Giant Screen Film” and “Best Cinematography”. National Geographic, our distributor, won “Best Big Idea” for Marketing Outreach. RM: Did you have a specific moment or day that was most memorable throughout
the whole process? GD: One of the joys for me was filming in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. To get the shots of the tomb we had to be locked into the church overnight. The church store closes at 9 o’clock and that’s it. No one comes in or out – not the pope or anyone. They took our 50-person crew and we were locked in until the doors opened at 6 o’clock in the morning. We did all the filming and then fell asleep around the Stone of Unction until 4:00 a.m.. A few of us came up with some horror film ideas. [Laughing] It was remarkable. You were sleeping with your head on a rock next to the Stone of Unction. It was a powerful, spiritual experience. risenmagazine.com 23
Writer: Trish Teves Photography: Courtesy National Geographic Films
Risen Magazine: The Dead Sea Scrolls could arguably be the most significant archeological discovery of the twentieth century, so it is fascinating to learn that the scrolls were found by a young shepherd boy who kept them in jars hanging from a tent for a short time. Dr. Risa Levitt Kohn: Well, most great discoveries are accidents, right? These scrolls were found in caves on the shore of the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth; very dry and hot. The combination of the humidity, the darkness and the temperature enabled them to survive. It’s a very unusual situation. It just so happens that where they were placed had the perfect conditions for preservation. RM: The questions as to who put the scrolls there and for what purpose are still unanswered, correct? RLK: The big questions surrounding the Dead Sea Scrolls are: Were they placed there intentionally? Were they hidden? Who placed them there? When, and under what context? I don’t think we’ll ever have all the pieces to the puzzle. I think there are a couple scenarios that are plausible or perhaps it’s a combination of all of them. RM: You took all of these facts into consideration when creating Dead Sea Scrolls: The Exhibition. You, along with Co-Curator Debora Ben Ami, created this experience from the ground up. What was that like? RLK: We worked on this exhibition for two years. One of the years, I was in Israel the entire time. Myself, and Debora Ben Ami, built it from the initial concept, to choosing all the objects that are on display, to working with the designers and building out the design and the concept of the show. It was a two-year process. And we still like one another [Laughter]. RM: Will the Scrolls continue indefinitely on tour or will they live somewhere? RLK: The scrolls that are on display in Los Angeles have never been on public display in the United States, some have never been on display at all. Once the scrolls are shown here in Los Angeles, they won’t be shown for at least another 5 years. The best situation for the scrolls is for them to sit in the dark. RM: How many people have seen the scrolls now? RLK: I would say hundreds of thousands of people. RM: How did you come to be the curator of the scrolls? RLK: I actually worked with the Antiquities Authority on the exhibition in San Diego back in 2007. I was very involved in bringing the Dead Sea Scrolls to San Diego and I worked with the curator on that exhibition. The exhibi24 Risen Magazine
tion was very successful and since then I’ve been working with the Antiquities Authority on exhibiting the scrolls in North America. RM: Have there been any highlights from this show in Los Angeles? RLK: There are over 600 objects in this show and they are all impressive. I think one of the objects that gets the most press is the 5,000 pound stone from the Western Wall. It is on display, but people can also touch it and it comes from something that people are very familiar with. RM: Do you prefer teaching in a classroom or curating? RLK: It’s nice to be able to work with the objects. Teaching in a classroom at San Diego State University, you don’t get to come into contact with the actual discoveries and the objects and the writings. It’s nice to be able to do this kind of work and get up close and personal with the things that you usually are just able to talk about. For more information and to get tickets: http://californiasciencecenter.org/exhibits/dead-sea-scrolls-the-exhibition (the exhibit runs through September 7, 2015) risenmagazine.com 25
26 Risen Magazine
The Drive of
Faith, Family and Football
Writer: Kelli Gillespie Photographer: Mike Nowak / San Diego Chargers
e grew up in the inner city speaking slang with a stutter. At a young age, his parents divorced but his mother made church and education a priority for him and his younger sister. He was an energetic kid who loved sports and went on to earn a full-ride football scholarship. He was drafted into the NFL and this past season played in his first Pro Bowl followed a short 36-hours later by the birth of his second child. The journey for Darrell Stuckey, Safety and Special Teams player for the San Diego Chargers is one woven with passion and commitment. He strives to put God first in his life and this dedicated family man is involved in numerous community events. Stuckey’s website, Living4One.com is a platform for fans to connect directly with him and provides the opportunity for him to share his heart with them. According to Stuckey, “Living4One means living for one purpose and your purpose affects and influences four different aspects of your life: you, your family, your community, and the world.” Risen recently sat down with this all-around talent to talk about his journey, his family and the path that led him along the way.
Interviewed Exclusively for Risen Magazine in San Diego, California
Risen Magazine: What was life like growing up in the Stuckey household? Darrell Stuckey: It was a pretty close-knit household. I grew up in the church and always went to church from a young age. My parents got divorced when I was about four years old. It was like a weird nightmare/dream because I had febrile seizures when I was younger – it’s when your body can’t regulate a temperature and if your body gets too hot it essentially just shuts down which causes a seizure. Basically your body is like a computer and it hit the reset button; and I had more than one. I had my last one when I was around five years old. I don’t know what the average person remembers before the age of 5, but for me most of it is blurry. As a kid I was kind of angry internally because there were questions I couldn’t understand. There is no way as a kid to understand why your parents [relationship] couldn’t work. There were so many things I couldn’t fathom at the time and I just wanted an excuse to be angry. And it was easy to do what was expected instead of going against the grain and understanding the situation. But I had a love and a determination to play sports so our household was always active. RM: Where did that love for sports come from? DS: Both of my parents were athletes. They both loved sports, but neither played sports through college. My sister is eleven months younger than me and we were both very competitive. She was my best friend growing up. Predominantly our household was a single-parent home so everywhere I went; my sister had to go with me. And after awhile I stopped fighting it. I was a little guy, but definitely a protector of my sister. I was an aggressive guy that
just loved life. As a kid I was angry at the fact that my parents couldn’t work out and life wasn’t perfect and I had a desire to be accepted and to be a part of something. Sports gave me that opportunity to be part of something that was greater than me, so playing sports was a release. It was an awesome time to have that connection with something that could’ve been perfect. You’re all striving together to achieve something that couldn’t be done by yourself – which is basically what a family is. Going into sports became an eye-opener, kind of like a gateway to purpose. It was a bigger transcending cause and for me it was an easy transition to see [how] life is bigger than me too. I see the evidence of Jesus living out something that was beyond Himself, and then seeing God building a kingdom for us all to live for something beyond ourselves. I could be part of a team forever. RM: You are obviously very talented when it comes to sports, how did Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) play a major role in your faith as a teen? DS: In the spring, [in high school] I had committed to FCA camp and had even gotten a scholarship to go, so I didn’t have to pay, because I wouldn’t have been able to afford it. It was at William Jewell College in Kansas City, Missouri, and it overlapped with the Kansas University football camp in Lawrence, Kansas. So I asked, “How much does it cost to come to the KU camp for one day?” And the coach said, “One day?! What are you talking about?” I said, “Coach, I already committed to go to another camp.” And at first they thought it was another football camp. And I said, “It’s the Fellowship of risenmagazine.com 27
ou’re all striving together to achieve something that couldn’t be done by yourself – which is basically what a family is. Christian Athletes Leadership Camp.” And he said, “Leadership camp huh? Well I guess if we’ve got you for one day, we’ve got you for one day.” Luckily that first day is when they do all the testing anyway. And that day I ended up tweaking my hamstring and getting hurt. So I head to FCA camp mad and heavyhearted. I had no idea God was breaking me down to build me up stronger. I was vulnerable and I walk into the sanctuary [on campus] for the first time and I see 500kids-my peers praising God. It was cool to be one with God, it was cool to raise my hands and be authentic with God. But that wasn’t the moment that changed my mind. It was actually a Giant’s Ladder, a vertical obstacle course that me and another guy named John wanted to do and get in the [FCA] Hall-of-Fame. We were the same age and both very strong and competitive and big-hearted; we were the light of our group. It was two or three stories – it seemed huge because we were only sixteen years old. It looks like a tower that has balance beams, monkey bars, rings and a rope ladder. We wanted to be in the Hall-of-Fame, but to do that you either had to complete the course with a combination that had never been done before, or you had to do the course the fastest. Since we were sixteen years old and there were military guys that had completed the course, we pretty much knew we weren’t going to beat anybody’s time, so we decided to do a combination that had never been done before. We thought up some ridiculous faith-bound, God-catch-me, trusta-stranger type of combination. We decided to blindfold ourselves and bind ourselves together with a five foot slack bungee cord, and the people holding our bungee cord on the ground were our peers. [Basically] other random teenage kids—I’m not even sure if I asked what their names were, it’s FCA camp, and you were supposed to have faith in everyone I guess. [Laughter] The funny thing about that moment is as soon as I put my blindfold on, as soon as I reached for the first obstacle, I heard God’s voice. It was this voice that I had heard before, but not clearly. The first thing my conscious told me was, “Now that I have your attention...” I was thinking, “Hmmm… what are you thinking about right now? Clear your head so you can hear them tell you where to put your foot, where to grab, where to climb, where to balance and where to jump.” And the only thing I could think about was [God saying], “How dare you trust a complete stranger with your life when I’ve been here the whole time.” The next thing you know, all I could think was God saying, “ You have 28 Risen Magazine
more faith in this complete stranger than you have in Me. You let someone else order your steps and you can’t trust Me to light your path.” I’m a very hyper, social person and I’m always distracted by whatever is going on around me, so God had to get me in a position where He could really talk to me—I put my own self there with my own ego and competitive nature. Now I’m blindfolded and all I can think about is faith and reaching and listening. The closer I get to the top, the lighter the load. Then I started thinking about all I’ve done in my life and accomplished and I thought about how I play a sport that, in any given play, it could be my last. In football, you put your faith in the person trying to tackle you or trying to block you, [believing] that they will play the game the right way and not try to take a cheap shot. You can hurt anybody at any time and use your body as a weapon if you don’t play the right way. Sometimes I play with, or against, a complete stranger which means I’m letting a complete stranger hold my life in their hands. And God said, “How foolish of you to think you live without any faith.” You may just be directing it the wrong way. When I got to the top of the tower I was overwhelmed with emotions surrounding what was going through my mind on the way up there. So to make it to the top of the Giant’s Ladder was the exclamation point! It was me breaking out of my shell and throwing away the questions that I had before. It was that day that turned my life around. I knew the closer I got to God the less everything else mattered. Regardless of where I am, I’m going to always put God first and be a witness for Him and make sure the environment I’m in is lit by the light of God. That [camp experience] is where I rededicated my life fully and I say that is when I took control of my relationship with God and gave up control at the same time. You have to take control first and decide, “I’m going to do this.” And then give it up and be submissive. That all happened on a Thursday, and Friday when my mom picked me up from camp I got in the car and she looked at me and said, “KU wants to offer you a full ride scholarship.” This was in June, before my senior year even started. RM: You grew up in Kansas City and then attended University of Kansas. What was it like going to college so close to home? DS: It was a dream-come-true. I wanted to be in the Big 12 and I wanted to be close to home. My mother always made it to my games. I was never
Darrell and wife Lacie with son Jayton and newborn daughter Kinsley risenmagazine.com 29
30 Risen Magazine
on the team that was favored; I was always the underdog. It was always a team I was helping to build. Being part of Kansas, they were on the uprise. RM: Then you get drafted to the Chargers in 2010 and move to San Diego. There are worse cities you could have to live in. DS: It wasn’t even on my radar. I literally did not watch that much NFL because I was either at church, or with friends, or playing sports – I was never in the house. RM: Interesting, so did you ever have the dream to play in the NFL or did that just kind of evolve? DS: My mom was always big on education. Our whole household always had above a 3.5 grade point average. It was a standard and I couldn’t play sports, even from a young age, unless I had good grades; sports were a reward. For me, I knew I always wanted to go to college so I tried to put myself into a position to go to college no matter what. Football gave that to me. I loved playing football and I wanted to be the best player I could be. I wanted to be the best player in the Big 12 and I wanted to be the best player in all of college football. My goal was to play in the NFL. I saw a quilt that I think I made in the fifth grade, where we had to draw a picture of what we wanted to do when we grew up and so my picture was of me playing football. I wanted to be in the NFL, but I was so scared to fail. In my mind my motto was that failure was not an option. I wanted to be successful in life. Period. And I realized that success is not accolades, but rather finding a purpose and fulfilling it. So for me to be successful I wanted to be a great husband and a great father. I wanted to be the best man I could be. I told myself to prepare to live without the NFL, but on the field I still needed to play my heart out and do whatever was needed, and if I did that then I believed football will take care of itself, if that was my purpose. I couldn’t draft myself. I always had goals, but [needed to] leave room for God’s will to be done. I realize the times I try to get arrogant and control things, are really the times that things don’t work out. So I started living in a way that I was proving my leadership off the field in many ways varying from being elected Student Senator my junior and senior years at University of Kansas for the college of the liberal arts and sciences, to one of three students on the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee, to Treasurer of my fraternity. I just wanted to prepare myself to be successful regardless of sports. I majored in Communication Studies because I was stuttering a lot and I wanted to be able to articulate myself in a way to be relatable and influential. I also didn’t really speak proper English being from an inner city [kid]. Then I got drafted. It is easier for you to drop everything and go when the blessing comes rather than putting all your eggs in one basket and leaving no room for God’s will to be done. So I prepared to live without football, and prepared to be successful so God had options on where he wanted to send me. This way if God wanted me to play football it would be obvious that it was His will. I didn’t want to misuse my environment and just take without adding anything to the table. I wanted to make KU better than when I came. RM: How did you feel when you did get drafted to play in the NFL? DS: When I was sitting there watching the draft, they [the teams] call a little bit before they announce the draft picks on television, so when it comes on you have already been on the phone with the team for a couple minutes and of course people kept calling me throughout the day asking, “ You get drafted yet?” And I would say, “Don’t call me. I’ll text you when it happens.” So the Chargers call and I’m on the phone and my roommate gets so
Stuckey at FCA Camp
ou have to take control first and decide, “I’m going to do this.” And then give it up and be submissive. excited because I’m talking to them. I think the first person that I talked to was John Spanos [President, Football Opperations]. I think he was at the draft board at that time, then [I spoke with] Dean Spanos, A.G. Spanos, Ron Rivera and Steve Wilks because they were all in the same room – they call it the War Room. They pass the phone down the line and in the middle of this when Wilks takes the phone, the draft announcement goes across the television screen and my roommate literally jumps and grabs my wrist and shouts, “Woohoooooooo!” And as my phone flips across the room, I’m thinking “Nooooo!” And trying not to hit my roommate, because he didn’t play football and he was just really excited. I push him out the way and dive for my phone and say, “I’m on the phone with them.” And he was like, “My bad.” [Laughter] It was very obvious getting to San Diego at first that I was different, because I didn’t play the game out of anger and I didn’t have an entitlement demeanor. I wasn’t passive at all, but I’m very respectful and courteous to my teammates. Most people play the game for fame, or glory, or money, but eventually when you get your dreams, the motivation can run away real fast. I know one thing; when I’m playing on the field it is with a purpose and it is beyond myself. There will never be a question if I am there for the right reasons or if I am happy with my circumstances because it’s not about me. RM: How would you describe your mentality on the field? DS: I am always a firm believer that God intended us to play with the mentality of not losing. It’s the same way Apostle Paul talks about it in the risenmagazine.com 31
ognized, but only two players in the entire league make the annual all-star game for special teams, so it’s a huge honor. Tell me about your experience. DS: Yes! Thank God it was in Arizona, because we [wife] were pregnant at the time. And yes, only two players from Special Teams in the NFL go. I was actually an alternate because it was supposed to be Matthew Slater from the Patriots and obviously New England made it into the Super Bowl so he couldn’t play in the Pro Bowl. Slater has been to the Pro Bowl multiple times and once you get in it is hard to take that spot away from somebody because the Special Teams is not really an ESPN highlight, and it’s not a Fantasy Football draft-able position. So it’s not something fans really pay attention to, so to vote for it [for Pro Bowl] most people just vote for the guy on their favorite team.
realized that success is not accolades, but rather finding a purpose and fulfilling it. Bible that nobody runs a race just for the heck of it; they always run in a way to get the prize. That is the way I play. But it doesn’t take aggression; it takes love for the person next to you and the people opposing us trying to take what is ours. It’s a game and there is no reason you have to play the way you live your life. There have been plenty of times people say, “ You are a hard hitter. You don’t seem like you would hit me. I don’t feel intimidated by you at all right now. But when you get on the field I question whether you are the same guy.” They think this because I am a very happy-go-lucky person. RM: Congratulations on your first trip to the Pro Bowl this past January. It’s interesting to note that only a handful of players at each position are rec32 Risen Magazine
RM: Nearly 36 hours after returning from the Pro Bowl, your wife, Lacie, gave birth to your second child. Tell me about how you met your wife and the strong marriage you have built. DS: It is amazing how much one person can influence or catapult an individual to be the man he needs to be or even to bring an enlightened movement in someone to be more than what he thought was enough. To have someone that is willing to formulate a team, because a family is a team, a couple has to work together to make everything in the house functional. Your whole house is your locker room and you obviously have a head coach and an assistant coach, in some cases you have two General Managers because it is definitely a partnership. For me, when I met Lacie, neither one of us were looking for a relationship; both of us were outside of our comfort zones. I had never dated anybody outside of my race and she was from a small town and had never dated outside of her race either. I’m from the inner city and she’s from a town with literally two stoplights. She had both her parents, they were both educators, and I was usually just with one of my parents. She was saving herself for marriage and I was, I use the word, “tainted” by life. I didn’t have a strong firm hand or masculine figure telling me how to treat a woman. I knew how to respect a woman because I had a little sister and a singleparent mother. But to know the influence sexual purity has, wasn’t truly affirmed to me, or firmly embedded in me and understood. I had re-dedicated myself [to the Lord] about six months before we met. We knew each other before then, but we hadn’t really tried to have a conversation and she was not into athletes. Her brother played basketball for University of Kansas and she worked in the athletic department as support staff. Lacie was a beautiful girl, but she wasn’t my type at the time, and I really wasn’t hers either. Facebook chat had just come out and I was online and she was online so I messaged her something like, “Hey, you said you wouldn’t mind hanging out sometime. But it has to be during the day. We can meet at the park or a pizza place. Not a date, just to hang out.” She said, “Sure. I’m moving out of my house.” I said, “ You need someone to help you move?” She said, “No but you can come over and help me clean.” Little did I know that she had no intention of having me help her clean. I get over to her house and it’s already totally clean. We had a great conversation for a couple of hours and we didn’t talk about sports or football. We continued to be friends for six or seven months and then we started dating. Going into our marriage we wanted to have a clean line of what we wanted and we studied together with a premarital book. The week before the draft, I called Lacie’s dad on a Sunday night and I said, “Mr. Reed I really want to ask your daughter’s hand in marriage…” The next day I decided to have a special dinner. My heart was pounding and I had already gotten a
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Stuckey speaking at FCA Camp
ring. I distracted Lacie with the draft and said, “The draft is coming up and I really want to start the week off celebrating and I know we both are free on Monday. I want to have a special dinner. I don’t know if we’ll have time to ourselves on the weekend with family. It will be a stressful weekend and I just want to make sure you know that I want you to celebrate this with me, because I have no idea what my future will hold.” And I just kept saying me, me, me, me. The Oread Hotel was just built right off the stadium near KU’s campus and they had just finished the terrace part of it. I found a way to talk to the manager and asked if there was any way I could rent it for the evening. It wasn’t open to the public yet, but they were going to open it the following weekend. Either way, a Monday night would be slow so I got a great price to have the terrace, a four-course meal and a waiter. There was one table on the terrace and it overlooked the stadium and the education building where Lacie spent most of her college career. So we go into the hotel and we are all dressed up and she’s walking toward the restaurant, because she’s been there before, and I stop at the elevators, and there is a sign that says, “Terrace Closed for Private Event.” She says, “What are you doing?” And I said, “We have to go up the elevator.” Then we go up to the fifth floor and there is this candlelit dinner in the middle of the terrace. She said, “Are you serious?!” And I said, “ Yes, it’s only the biggest week of MY life.” [Laughter] Again emphasizing me, me, me. We go through dinner and the ring is in my pocket and the whole time I kept emergency dialing the police. Because back then you didn’t have to dial a number, there was an actual emergency button. If you swipe the wrong way it makes the call so I must’ve accidentally called 911 like five to six times. I throw her off and make a joke during dinner and say, “Babe I’m going to be honest with you, if I could afford it and I wasn’t broke right now, this would be a perfect night to propose. We both know the situation so we’ll wait until next year, maybe after my first season in the NFL.” We have dinner and finish the meal and before dessert I say, “Now that the sun is going down let’s look at the view.” All the while, my roommate is hiding in the chef ’s kitchen by the window so we could record it. We get up and go look [at the sunset] and I go into my proposal and part of it I say, “you
know one thing; when I’m playing on the field it is with a purpose and it is beyond myself. mean the world to me and this week is not just about me, and I don’t want it to be, this is about our future together.” Then I step back and go down on one knee and propose. She was caught off guard so the few seconds felt like a long time as she looked at me and then said, “ Yes, yes, yes!” Then my roommate walked out from the chef ’s kitchen. It was pretty fun and crazy. RM: That was a big week for you… engaged and drafted to the NFL! DS: Yes and I think it set the tone for our marriage because no matter what I do in life, I want her to know she will always come first. God clearly tells us whatever we do unto our wives, we do unto Him. As a man, He gave Eve to Adam. And original man, Adam, failed to protect Eve and to love her because he was with her and witnessed her being lured and tempted by the devil. So as a man, it is my duty to make sure she is fully supported and fully in a position to spiritually blossom. She is above and beyond anything I could imagine. When you get married, your spouse should be someone who uplifts and makes your life easier, not more complicated. It’s all about seeking truth; not seeking pride. Most people get caught up in their marriage because they can’t release the pride and Lacie has been so selfless. I think it is amazing the woman that she is, and it makes it easy for me to be the man I am. risenmagazine.com 35
36 Risen Magazine
Goodsnitch How One Man’s Digital Platform is Changing the Face of Business with a Smile
Writer: Shelley Barski Photographer: Rob Springer
Interviewed exclusively for Risen Magazine hances are, you’ve posted a bad review about a company or service online at least once. If you were treated unjustly by a local retailer or waited too long for your food at a restaurant, it’s easy to become an evangelist for their demise and turn away fellow patrons. But when you receive great service, do you alternately jump online and post about it? A start-up called Goodsnitch™ is shifting this norm as the “antiYelp.” Just as negativity is contagious, positivity is too. Founded in 2012 in San Diego, California, Goodsnitch is contributing towards what has become the “Positivity Movement” and is making headway. With more than 100,000 people currently using the platform across the U.S., everyday heroes are being recognized and rewarded. The philosophy at Goodsnitch is to “celebrate publicly and fix privately.” All good feedback is shared with the Goodsnitch community while the constructive criticism is private and delivered to the business, allowing them to fix problems. Goodsnitch is different from sites like Yelp, Google Reviews and Angie’s List as it’s not about ratings. Instead of one group of consumers educating another, Goodsnitch focuses on facilitating a conversation between businesses and consumers. “At its core, Goodsnitch is a way in 30 seconds for someone to do something for another human being,” said Rob Pace, founder and CEO of Goodsnitch. “Our data shows that 93 percent of the time people will give a positive review if it’s really easy to do. Fifty percent of the time it will be a shout-out to a specific person by name.” For many years, Pace worked as a senior partner for the leading global investment firm, Goldman Sachs, on Wall Street. He left the corporate world in 2007 as a successful businessman and became a chairman for the Salvation Army, which inspired him to create a start-up that gives back to the community. On Wall Street, Pace would always ask his clients, “Do you have a great team and are you listening to your customers?” This was the basis for
Goodsnitch. “During my time at Goldman Sachs, I would mentor people and tell them to look for a career that was an intersection of their strength and passion,” explained Pace. “I worked with hundreds of business leaders in strategy. I have a passion for encouragement. I grew up in a tiny town in Oregon in a very depressed area with about a 50 percent unemployment rate. I saw the need for hope while growing up in this environment and that’s when I became passionate about making a difference.” Anyone can download the Goodsnitch app and start “snitching” right away. If you’ve had a great experience at any organization, anywhere, you can call someone out and recognize them. If you call them out by name, they are entered into the “Heromaker” daily drawing. “Positive people recognize other human beings. They have good attitudes, they are proactive and aren’t just responders,” said Pace. “Our goal is to encourage one million people on the front lines like teachers, bellhops, baristas and cashiers. My son, who is a busser right now, analyzes whether he had a good day or not by if a customer or co-worker was nice to him. I want everyone to feel that recognition. One positive word can fuel someone for months!” Business owners can get access to all of their feedback for free. Yoga 6 in Carlsbad, California, passes around the positive comments from Goodsnitch in their staff meetings. They do this to not only create an encouraging environment, but also to use it as an exercise in listening to what the customer values. Every day, Goodsnitch hosts a “Heromakers” drawing. Judges pick one everyday hero and the heromaker who gave them the shout-out, and the winners get to split $1,000. Pace has seen people’s lives changed because of this generous gift. “A hero isn’t just someone who rescues someone from a burning building. A hero can be someone who gets up every day and chooses to do a good job and to serve their friends and colleagues. And it’s not because they have to, but because they want to. It’s in their DNA.” risenmagazine.com 37
Our goal is to encour-
age one million people on the front lines like teachers, bellhops, baristas and cashiers. One example is Kailani, from Rubio’s restaurant in Encinitas, California, who was overwhelmed when she heard that she had won. When she got the call, she clocked out and broke down in tears. She was paying all her bills herself and couldn’t afford to go to the prom. All her friends were going and she was so excited to be given a five hundred dollar check, and she could afford to go. Another recent hero is Bobby from Oregon who worked for the Habitat for Humanity thrift store. He couldn’t afford to fly to see his dying aunt until he got the call that he had won five hundred dollars. “God really uses this platform to make miracles happen. It’s such a blessing to be a part of,” related Pace. Goodsnitch is for more than just retailers — any organization from churches, schools and towns are on the list, even local politicians are snitching. In the small town of Albany, Oregon, where the population is around 50,000, there are currently 3,000 positive comments, over 2,200 shout-outs and 787 heroes. Even the mayor of Albany, Sharon Konopa, uses it. She sifts through the heroes and congratulates a few on her Facebook page every day. Pace calls places like Albany, “positivity hot spots.” He believes that the more you focus on the positive, the more it will become second nature. It can completely transform the way you approach daily life. “A friend of mine, Tim Oitzman, the CEO of Greystone Advisors, noticed a difference in his life after he started looking for the positive,” Pace explained. As a business person constantly on the road, it is very easy to get stuck dwelling on the negative. Looking for the positive changed his whole demeanor. Now he’s looking for people’s nametags or for a name on a receipt when he’s out, so he can have a chance to “snitch” on them. It’s the cheapest therapy in the world. It changes you.” Pace’s platform not only provides positivity therapy, but also good business sense. One of the largest issues facing U.S. businesses today is the retention of talent. The war for talent is a $50 billion business and turnover can be over 20 percent of the cost of a business. More than ever, good employees are worth their weight in gold. Retaining a team is a top priority for CEOs and Goodsnitch is playing into this need. “It’s important to really understand what the customer is thinking,” added Pace. “There are a lot of places that don’t get the feedback they need. It’s not a coincidence as a strategist that I am working here. It’s truly a good mission, but it’s also very important. Doing ‘good’ in the world is impacting businesses more than ever before. Customers are getting smarter. You can’t fake it any more. A consumer’s perception is their reality. Therefore, better 38 Risen Magazine
your reality. We call that the ‘inside-out’ approach.” According to Goodsnitch’s express feedback results, if someone recommends a business or service to a friend and mentions someone who works there by name, the likelihood that the friend will try the service goes up by 10 percent. This is a huge piece of the pie as businesses are usually fighting for the one percent. “People often say how impersonal technology is, but this is a way we are using the power of technology for good,” Pace said. “I think businesses are just so busy in the old model. The light bulb hasn’t come on yet. I believe CEO should actually stand for Chief Encouragement Officer. Good leaders champion their people.” Many large corporations have turned on that light bulb and jumped on board with what Goodsnitch is doing. Their clientele includes the Miami Dolphins, San Antonio Spurs, San Diego Padres and Dallas Cowboys. “The Cowboys are on the board of the Salvation Army. They are actually a very generous team—not many people get to see that side of them. The Spurs are all about community. They have the same core values as Goodsnitch,” added Pace. Though Pace gets to watch and see communities help one another through this platform, he isn’t just an observer—he is also a daily snitcher. He knows that it’s a choice to get in either a positive or negative spiral, so he is always looking for opportunities to bless someone. His faith has played a big role in the development of this platform. Stepping out of the corporate world and into entrepreneurship has allowed Pace to make more impact with his skills and gifts—the intersection of his strength and passion. “I love the quote by St. Francis of Assisi: ‘Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words’” said Pace. “This app doesn’t say, ‘God Bless You!’ as you log out, but it’s allowing people to do good. To boil it down, this app is all about the greatest commandment: ‘Love Thy Neighbor’.”
For more information on becoming a Goodsnitch visit: www.goodsnitch.com.
David DeSanctis on set
Writer: Kelli Gillespie Photography: Tom LeGoff
laying the role of a person with Down syndrome would be a challenge for any seasoned actor. Combine that with an actor who actually has Down syndrome and the task could become overwhelming. And yet for David DeSanctis the undertaking was about so much more than just an acting job. DeSanctis received the school spirit award from his high school–Ballard High in Louisville, Kentucky–the same school that was used to film scenes in a feature film where he landed the leading role. His energy is contagious. So, it was no surprise when production rolled into town looking to cast the role for a local grocery store clerk with Down syndrome, named Produce, everybody in town said, “ You have to talk to David.” The movie, Where Hope Grows, is about a professional baseball player whose career is cut short. He’s an alcoholic trying to raise his daughter and failing miserably. An unexpected friendship develops between the grocery clerk and the former athlete and they embark on a journey full of hope and redemption. DeSanctis’ parents, Bill and Julie, related they had worked with David a little bit at home, taped him and sent in the video for consideration for the role. According to the director, “David just stood out; he’s not just memorizing lines, he’s acting.” DeSanctis earned the part and has great chemistry with his co-star Kristoffer Polaha, who is best known for his roles in television on popular shows like Mad Men, Life Unexpected and Ringer. This real life father of three said the biggest thing he learned from DeSanctis was, “not to treat him any differently than he treats anybody else.” Risen sat down with the duo to talk about managing expectations, the filming of Where Hope Grows, integrity, and parenting.
Interviewed for Risen Magazine in Los Angeles, California
Risen Magazine: How did you become involved with the project and what attracted you to it? Kristoffer Polaha: It’s funny, I was in my Malibu house and I was asking my manager and agent to send me scripts, because I did a pilot for a FOX show called Backstrom and we were in this long wait pattern to find out if it was going to get picked up, but in the interim I was sent all these weird like right on the nose, saccharine scripts. I had literally read like five scripts in a row that were kind of just stuff you had already seen. Then I got Chris’ [Dowling, writer/director] script and it was edgy. When I read it I thought it was a movie with a great message that can speak to a huge audience, not just a faith-based audience. It’s a movie about redemption and second chances.
I think the conversation that no one has had yet today is that we live in a world–doesn’t matter if you are Christian, Jewish, Muslim or Atheist–it doesn’t-matter what you are, we are human beings and we all share this story, this life, and we are on a steady march towards the grave. And the thing about media and movies and art is that it is a quick respite from that march. You take a minute to look at your life and sit in a dark room with strangers, or in your home, and you get to focus on other people for a minute and it gives you a chance to reflect. I think with movies, what you consume is what you are. If you keep putting stuff in that is aggressive, violent, or sexual, it wears off on you every once in a while. So to be part of something that is really well done and no matter where you come from in this life, you will take something risenmagazine.com 41
own life? KP: As an actor in Hollywood I think you need to be realistic about how you manage your expectations. We live in a city where one minute you are doing one thing and the next, because of a project, your life changes dramatically, or it doesn’t, so I think you have to go through it with a humble heart. away from this movie. RM: David, your character has so much integrity, even when telling the truth has consequences. In your own life, how important is it to be honest and how easy or difficult is that for you? David DeSanctis: I went through a phase when I was younger of trying to tell the truth and not lie and my older sister Sarah Marie DeSanctis, at first she believed in me one hundred percent, and then in middle school before she left to go off to college, I was living behind lies. So she didn’t believe me at all. And then I think I needed to learn to trust her again and put my trust in her for her to trust me and believe in me again. I needed to live behind the truth and not behind lies. RM: Kris, your character is an alcoholic former baseball player who never made it quite as far as he hoped. How do you manage expectations in your 42 Risen Magazine
RM: David, your character is so loving and he hugs everyone he meets. How have you seen someone’s demeanor change by getting a hug? DD: According to character Calvin Campbell, the first hug Produce gave him he thought, “Why is he giving me a hug?” Later he kind of half accepts the second hug. And then finally he goes in for a full-sized bear hug. I really cried in real life during the final hug scene and the reason I cried was because of what Calvin said to Katie [his on-screen daughter] outside of the hospital that was so moving to me. He loves her so much that he wanted to give everything to her. RM: Kris talk to me about the importance of being a parent rather than having your children take care of the parent. KP: I think probably ninety percent of society’s ills would be remedied if parents were actual parents and did their job. I saw a bumper sticker that read, A Good Man is A Good Father, and for me my number one priority is my family and everything else stacks up after that. I know there are a lot of
(l to r) David DeSanctis and Kristoffer Polaha
people where their first priority is making the legacy, building the career, or whatever it is, but all of that [will fade away]. RM: We see you and your on-screen daughter attempt to pray for the first time. What are you hoping was translated to the audiences about the power of prayer? KP: I hope that the movie is an honest portrayal of a guy’s journey into faith. And if you don’t know Jesus, how do you start that relationship? In my journey and in all of our journeys we meet people and say, “Do you believe in God?” And they will say, “ Yea I believe there is something out there.” But what is that? What is that relationship? And I think that is what that scene was addressing. You want to reach out and you want to hope that there is something that can help you in your life. And I love that when he was talking to his daughter he told her he didn’t know. Why would he know? It was so honest. Is God this genie in the sky that makes everything perfect? Obviously not, but He provides hope. RM: What lessons or themes in the film resonate most with you? KP: I think it’s a three-prong story really. There is one about addiction, there is one about a broken relationship between father and daughter and the third is about Down Syndrome and how we as a society treat people with Down Syndrome.
Photo: Rob Springer
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Writer: Gwen Mecklenburg Photos: The Silverwood Family
uccessful businessman John Silverwood and his wife, Jean, both experienced sailors, decided the time was right to give their four children a taste of thrilling life on the high seas. Their year and a half-long journey aboard their 55-foot catamaran took them halfway around the world. They experienced times of excitement and adventure, times of boredom and monotony. And then one night, alone in a remote stretch of the South Pacific, they experienced what they never thought possible. Risen sat down with this couple to talk about that frightful night and the spiritual conversion that carried them through it all.
Interviewed exclusively for Risen Magazine in San Diego, California
Risen Magazine: How and when did your passions for sailing originate? John: When I was 14 years old, I was invited to go sailing with a friend and his dad out on the Chesapeake Bay. I just loved everything about it. I sailed throughout my high school years. When I was a sophomore at Colgate, I left school and hitchhiked home to Philadelphia in February in a snow storm. My parents were pretty surprised to see me! I started a construction company and used the money to buy my first boat, which I sailed from Massachusetts down to the Caribbean and back. That took about a year and then I returned to Colgate the following January. After graduation, I built a trimaran kit-boat in my spare time and piloted it to the Bahamas. Soon I was getting jobs as a delivery captain. Later I moved to the Virgin Islands, working for a construction supply company there, and continued sailing. Jean: I had been living and working in New York City. I was so tired of the freezing cold weather that, rather spontaneously, I decided to move to St. Croix in the Virgin Islands, thinking it would be only for that one winter season. But then I got a job on a 55-foot charter boat and it was so gorgeous down there that I ended up staying for about two years. We traveled around the Caribbean during the wintertime and up to Newport, Rhode Island for the summers. That’s how I learned to sail the bigger boats. RM: So you met in the Virgin Islands? Jean: No, we actually met in New York, through a mutual friend who was also my sailing partner. By that time, I was living in New York again and John had moved to San Diego. It was a long-distance courtship. We were married in 1986 at a yacht club in Long Island; the same location from which we began our voyage years later. RM: Fast forward seventeen years to 2003. You were living in San Diego and John had a thriving construction business. Your four children, Ben, Amelia, Jack and Camille, were ages 14, 12, 7 and 3 respectively. How did the plan of sailing together for a year take shape? John: It had always been my dream to take an extended sailing trip with my family. When I saw the handwriting on the wall for the dramatic downturn
in the real estate industry, I decided to mothball my construction business. Jean: It was a good, clean cut because Ben had graduated from junior high school, Amelia had graduated from elementary school, and it was a transition year for their schooling. The other two were young enough to adapt. I arranged for the kids to continue their studies while we were away through a homeschool program, supervised via email by teachers back in San Diego. John: I knew that if we didn’t go then, it would never happen. Ben would get into the flow of high school, SAT’s, college prep, and we wouldn’t be able to go. Two years later, Amelia would be into the same thing. I remember saying to myself, “Even Bill Gates can’t buy back time to be with his kids.” RM: Was there a greater purpose to the trip besides just having fun together? John: Yes, it was to show our children God’s world in all its glory, a lasting exposure to the more eternal things in life. We wanted them to experience for themselves the contrast between the ephemeral nature of modern life and the everlasting things of the Creator and his creation. I knew I had to imprint that by allowing them to be involved in a setting with the elements. As I look back, the bulk of our fun was spent fishing, surfing, climbing mountains, or even just lying on the deck at night and gazing at the constellations— but always in connection with the elemental things. RM: Tell me about your boat, the Emerald Jane. John: It was a 55-foot catamaran with four separate bedrooms, which gave us plenty of room, and it carried a cloud of sail. The mast was 80 feet tall. So we could travel fairly swiftly and carry a lot of provisions. Back when Jean and I were still making plans, I had arranged to test-sail a catamaran around San Diego Bay. Afterwards, we got into the car and Jean looked at me and said, “OK, I’ll go on this trip. But it’s got to be on a catamaran.” That was because catamarans sail flat. Then you have nettings and lifelines all around the boat so the possibility of a child falling overboard is almost nil. Jean: We bought the Emerald Jane in Florida. John completely re-did it risenmagazine.com 45
Emerald Jane, a 55-foot catamaran, at the beginning of the Silverwoods two-year journey in the summer of 2003.
and subsequently sailed it up to New York. The kids and I flew to New York and met John there. That was in August of 2003. We planned to spend the summer moored in the Long Island Sound, making side trips around New England until October, then sail down to the Caribbean. It was a summerto-summer plan, see how it went. If it didn’t work, we’d sell the boat and go back home. RM: How did it morph into more? Jean: We met a family, the Van Zwam’s, who were also heading south to the Caribbean, as we were. They had two kids, approximately Ben’s and Amelia’s ages. We became very close. We got as far as Bermuda with them, then we split up until the following April when we met again in Grenada. That’s when they talked us into going through the Panama Canal and sailing as far as Tahiti. RM: What are some of your fondest memories of the trip? John: I’ll never forget when we arrived in Bermuda the day before Thanksgiving after a very rough ocean passage. Jean: To say it was rough is an extreme understatement! We were all incredibly seasick. Out of all the distances that we sailed, some 18,000 miles, that was our worst time. John: Immediately upon arrival, the kids recovered and demanded that we launch our dingy so they could snorkel in the clear waters. All the locals thought we were nuts because they wouldn’t swim in November. The resilience and enthusiasm of the kids were rekindled, just like that. Jean: Some of my favorite memories were when we were together with the Van Zwam’s in Grenada, then going through islands like Curacao and Aruba, and being in Panama. I loved Ecuador, where we explored Incan 46 Risen Magazine
ruins and hiked the Andes. We did a lot of things as two families and I really enjoyed that. RM: You continued sailing as far as Tahiti, and then you were kind of stuck because it was hurricane season. You had been sailing for about a year and a half. Then what? Jean: We left the boat moored in Tahiti, returned to San Diego, and put the kids in school for the January-to-June semester. We returned to Tahiti on Father’s Day and we were going to sail to Fiji and on to Australia, where we would do a little touring before returning return home in time to get the kids into school again for the fall. Ben wasn’t happy with that plan. He did not want to go back onto the boat. The night before we were supposed to catch our flight to Tahiti, he took our car and just disappeared. He didn’t even have his driver’s license yet. It was so unlike him. He didn’t show up until an hour before we were supposed to leave to go to the airport. He was nearly 16 at the time and it was very emotional for him. He didn’t want to leave San Diego and all his friends. RM: So the whole family returned to the Emerald Jean for the trip to Fiji and Australia. That next portion of your trip turned into the most horrific nightmare of your lives. What events led up to the shipwreck? Jean: We were in a rush to get going because we had friends flying in to Fiji to meet us. But it’s unwise to try to be on a time schedule when you’re on a boat. Our brand new auto-pilot wasn’t calibrating correctly and we left Raiatea anyway, despite some really strong winds. The boom and the mast were shaking like crazy and I think it shook something loose. A day and a half later, we’d gone about 300 miles and it was getting on toward evening. We were eating dinner out on the cockpit when suddenly the pin
Jack and Camille at the Panama Canal
Captain John Silverwood
that attaches the boom to the mast broke off. We let down the sails and were just floating. We tried unsuccessfully to get the huge boom back on the mast and decided to wait until the next morning because it was getting dark. We put dinner away and I went down to my stateroom. John came down, knowing I was worried. Even though we had a motor, there was no way we could get all the way to Fiji. RM: You were about to hit a coral reef and you had no idea it was there. What makes such reefs so dangerous? John: A coral reef is part of a coral wall that extends from the surface all the way to the bottom of the ocean. The water we were sailing on was more than a mile deep. We had a pretty strong wind, about 18 knots, coming from behind us. It was a dark night and the swells were running about 11 to 15 feet. Since the ocean is so deep there, its motion is unrestricted. From our perception sailing on the surface, it created a very gradual rising and falling, virtually imperceptible when you’re used to being at sea. However, when that same wave pattern hits the coral wall, it compresses. The result is that the waves get much higher and come more frequently.
Jean Silverwood, at the wheel joined by her children, (l to r) Amelia, Camille, Ben and Jack, for dinner on board the boat.
RM: When you hit the submerged reef, how quickly did you realize what had happened and how did you respond? Jean: We felt something first. Not like an abrupt stop but kind of like something had hit the boat. John: After the initial contact, the next wave picked up the boat and carried it further onto the coral reef, which stagger-steps up and up, closer to the surface for a distance of maybe a couple hundred yards. Within seconds, we did come to an abrupt stop and that’s when Ben, who was at the helm, yelled, “Reef!” It was about 7:00 p.m. Jean: I was in my bedroom and John had come down to talk to me about our schedule. The younger kids were also downstairs, watching a video. When we heard Ben’s shout, we came running up the stairs from the cabin, up to the cockpit. The initial gash happened at Amelia’s bedroom and water came shooting out into the kitchen and galley. RM: How many different methods of emergency communication was the Emerald Jean equipped with? Jean: We had a single side band radio, a VHF radio, a satellite phone, and an EPIRB, which stands for Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon. risenmagazine.com 47
It transmits a signal to a satellite, which then relays it back down to earth, and eventually it is picked up by the Coast Guard station in Alameda, California. John: I came down in the radio room and Jean handed me the mike to the SSB because it’s the most powerful radio on the boat. I tuned it to an emergency frequency and then I began to broadcast, “Mayday, mayday, mayday! This is the Emerald Jane. We have struck a reef and we are sinking. We need immediate assistance.” Then I gave our position. I did that over and over again. I picked up French voices, but they weren’t answering me. Meanwhile, Jean was calling out on the satellite phone and Ben was transmitting on the VHS radio. All three of us on three different phones… and none of them worked. The last thing, like the Hail Mary, was to activate the EPIRB, which I did. Last, because on the EPIRB you don’t get a real-time response, you don’t get to talk to someone and receive acknowledgement. All you get is a blinking light. Ben and I went up to the foredeck to inflate the life raft. Just as I pulled the tether, all the lights on the boat went out. The water level had flooded the battery banks, killing all power on the boat. No chance of radio contact after that. RM: Your only hope was the EPIRB message? John: Yes, and because satellite coverage is so poor in the South Pacific, the only part of the message that got through was the name of the boat. 48 Risen Magazine
Fortunately, that was enough to bring up the information we had filed with the FCC. It became the responsibility of the Coast Guard station in Alameda to figure out our position. Their initial search box was 2.1 million square miles! Next, the French authorities in Tahiti had to be contacted. At first, no one answered the phone. An hour later, someone answered. But they couldn’t begin their search until sunrise. RM: What they couldn’t have known was the extreme peril you were in, that every passing minute was precious. The ship was sinking, being literally smashed to bits by the waves that pummeled it against the coral reef. And then, something even more horrific happened. Jean: The mast came crashing down. It grazed Ben’s head and knocked John to the deck, with his left leg pinned underneath. A metal fitting called a spreader had chopped through his skin like a cleaver. His lower leg was dangling by a tendon. He went into shock and was losing blood rapidly, even though we applied a tourniquet. John: In addition to the excruciating pain and loss of blood, each time a wave washed over the deck, I was underwater and had to hold my breath until it receded again. Each wave shifted the mast and then dropped it down again, pulverizing my leg. This pattern continued for probably three and one-half hours. RM: Were you tempted to just give up? Where did you find the strength to hold onto hope?
John: I went into deep shock but I never lost consciousness. I was shivering violently, my teeth were chattering to the point where they literally cracked. I was trying to sort through a million thoughts. What began to occupy my consciousness was an acceptance of the certainty that I was dying. I decided to confess all my sins aloud as I was lying on the deck. Then Ben came over on his knees and apologized for his disrespectful words and selfish actions during the trip. It occurred to me that he also believed I was dying. I asked Ben to bring the younger kids over. I said to them, “If I go to sleep, I don’t want you to worry about me. I won’t hurt anymore, I won’t be cold, so don’t worry.” Then I went into my own thoughts, entering a really dark place of despair, like a black abyss and I was endlessly falling. I thought about having brought my wife and children out to this god-forsaken reef. I was going die and then one by one they were going to die after me. It was by my own hand that this was happening and there was nothing I could do to stop it. What finally brought me out of it was the awareness of Ben’s voice, and the other kids too, yelling, “Big one coming!” meaning the next big wave, so that everyone could grab hold of something attached to the deck and not be swept into the sea. The strength of the family bond and their faith sank deep inside me and it rallied my soul. A voice spoke to me and I gave word to the voice and that word was “No!” I wish it was something more eloquent, but I knew I was saying no to the devil, to evil. I was divinely inspired to hang on. I was praying the whole time, out loud and I could hear the prayers of my wife and children. Despair is a slap in the face of God. God did not forsake me! I had given up, but He still bore me up. RM: Do you think it was significant, the fact that you spoke those words aloud? John: Yes, God drove me to speak aloud all my prayers. It was difficult to do, because I was chattering and shivering so hard. I’ve been asked so many times why I’m still alive. I’ll tell you; it was by that chain of words that God bound me to life. In the wake of that, I became re-interested in saving my life. RM: You mentioned Ben’s voice as the one that primarily broke through your despair. How did Ben help hold everything together? John: Early on, Jean was very disoriented and for a while Ben was completely in control. He changed from a boy to a man, in a second. Some of those waves were just towering, like 20 or 25 feet. At one point Jean decided to go below deck to get the medical kit. Ben just picked her up, saying, “Mom, I can’t let you go down there.” A moment later, a wave broke over the top of the boat and it broke so hard that it exploded all of our oneinch thick, hurricane-proof windows. The concussive impact would have killed Jean if she had been below deck. So you’ve got this typical teenager and then all of a sudden, his backbone is made out of steel, he won’t yield, and he’s protecting the whole family. Was God’s hand in that? Absolutely! Jean: Ben put it really well when he got the Honor Medal for Boy Scouts: “I just went into autopilot.” RM: After you got past your initial shock, could the same thing be said of you, Jean, that you just went into autopilot? Jean: When you think about it, neither of us had the physical or mental strength to do what we did, to be a driving force, not giving up, to just keep going at it until it happens. One of the two hulls of our boat broke off and went back, like a pair of scissors. The life raft had blown off the deck and was wedged in the water between the two hulls. Everything was flying around in the surf, moving
The French Navy helicopter arrives on the reef to airlift the Silverwoods to Bora Bora.
constantly, yet I had to get into the water to pull it apart and release the life raft. It was crazy with all the sharp edges and heavy surf and I practically drowned trying. I had to stop and rest for a while, and then I went back at it a second time before I finally succeeded. There was definitely a supernatural force involved. Then too, when Ben and I were pushing and pulling on the mast to get it off John, we weren’t thinking, we were just doing it. If we had stopped to analyze the situation, we would have said, “There’s no way we can do this. It’s pointless to try.” RM: From an earthly perspective, the situation appeared hopeless. The boat was sinking and John was still trapped under the mast. You needed help but no one was coming to the rescue. How did you finally get free, John? John: Ben and Jean just kept trying. While Ben pushed the mast, Jean was on her back on the deck, trying to lift with her legs. A huge, black wave came and hit at precisely the right angle, allowing the mast to be lifted off me. That one wave was so critical that we later named our book Black Wave. Without that wave, it was certain death for me. I had lost seventy percent of my blood and my body was shutting down. Jean: As the tide went out, the size of the waves diminished and more of the coral reef was exposed. Ben spotted a place of refuge and urged us to get off the boat. We were able to get John into the life raft and float it from place to place as the surge allowed. We got to a small lagoon that was protected from the waves. RM: How long did the family have to wait there? Jean: At dawn, the French Navy sent a plane from Papeete, Tahiti. Of course we jumped and waved when we saw it, and Ben set off a flare. They signaled that they had seen us and flew off. But they kept coming and gorisenmagazine.com 49
John Silverwood surrounded by his family leaving Tahiti-Faa’a International Airport for transport back to Los Angeles. They are wearing traditional Polynesian shell leis given to them by the members of the French Navy, who saved their lives. (Photo: Van Z)
ing. That really confused us. We found out later that they had dropped a note in a bottle to the family that lived on the island of Manuae, eight miles away. The note said, “Follow us.” Hours later, seven Polynesian men arrived in a small motorboat. They were part of an extended family of 16, the sole residents of Manuae. None of them spoke English. They took us back to their island and made an urgent call on their radio to the rescue center in Papeete. They were extremely generous, offering us food, dry clothing, and even jewelry. Hours later, a helicopter came to transport us to Bora Bora, and from there a jet flew us to Tahiti. The French doctors and medical facilities there were very good. They operated on John to amputate his leg below the knee. It was about 5:30 p.m.—nearly 24 hours after the accident. The doctors later said John was literally within moments of dying; indeed, it was a miracle he was even alive. When John was finally being cared for in the hospital, I felt a huge sense of elation, like nothing I had ever felt before. I thought initially it was because I was alive. I didn’t realize until years later that what I experienced was being filled with the Holy Spirit. And it was like that for the two weeks we were in Tahiti… a constant high. The doctors kept trying to give me valium and anti-depressants, but I didn’t need anything. I was truly filled with joy and happiness. When we got back home to San Diego, John still needed hospitalization and in fact underwent another surgery to amputate his leg above the knee. I 50 Risen Magazine
had responsibility for all four kids, plus running back and forth to the hospital, and there was no time to pray, no time to really just sit and talk to God. So that feeling slowly went away. It was even more overwhelming when at last John got out of the hospital and I had to take care of him too. Finally he got well enough to take care of himself and to some extent the kids too, and I knew I needed some way to be by myself and process everything. I learned meditation, but I changed it into a Christian meditation. Since then, I meditate every day, twice a day, for about 15 minutes. That has kept me grounded and has given me time to be with God. It gives me a lot of peace. RM: One could almost explain away your elation as pure relief that the burden of life or death wasn’t all on you. But when you had been on the boat, and everything really was on your [and Ben’s] shoulders, you also felt the Holy Spirit. Tell me about that. Jean: When John was pinned under the mast, I walked past my kids to the bow of the boat. I kept looking in the water, preparing to die. I was talking to God and justifying dying. Suddenly a voice told me not to give up. I began having a conversation with God. I said, “If you do get us out of this mess, I’m going to make it count, make my life worthwhile. When the kids are grown and off on their own, John and I are going to have a ministry on a boat.” Isn’t that weird? I said that, and all of a sudden things started to change. I had a peace I had never known before and the despair was gone. I knew with complete clarity what I had to do. I turned around and walked back to Ben, who
Dept: Miracle was leaning over John. With blood dripping down his head, Ben looked at me and said, “Mom, I was really, really scared but now I have this overwhelming sense of peace like I do at Christmas.” I knew exactly what he meant because I felt the same way. It happened to both of us at the same time, we had just been in different places on the boat. The atmosphere had shifted. RM: It’s so easy to be overwhelmed by a spirit of fear after a traumatic event such as this. Were you afraid to sail after the accident? Jean: John has always gotten subscriptions to sailing magazines and he loves to read sailing books. While he was recuperating from the accident, he wasn’t reading and I got kind of worried. I told our sailing friends, the Van Zwam’s, and they invited John to join them. Like me, they were worried about John “getting back on the horse.” John: My first trip was to fly to New Zealand and sail out of Auckland with the Van Zwam’s. That was in August of 2007, so two years after the shipwreck. It was an eight-day sail up to the Bay of Islands, in north New Zealand, and then to New Caledonia. I’ve been sailing ever since. RM: And the kids? Do they still enjoy the water? John: Yes, all of them. In fact, Amelia is currently working as a chef on a mega-yacht berthed Puerto Vallarta, in route to Alaska and back this summer. Jack attends college in northern California and loves surfing the big waves. RM: After the accident in 2005, the media got a hold of your dramatic story of survival. The San Diego newspaper ran a lengthy account and you were featured in Reader’s Digest’s “Drama in Real Life.” Random House published your book, Black Wave, and there were several TV documentaries as well as interviews and appearances. All that lasted several years and then everything seemingly quieted down. What has happened since then, and why do you think it is being rekindled now? Jean: There were some hard times for us as a family. For John, dealing with the prosthetic leg has been a constant battle. It’s not as easy as people think. It takes a lot of concentration and physical stamina even to walk and if your weight varies at all you have to get it re-fitted. Each time a significant alteration is made, he has to go through more physical rehab. After the accident, the whole family was diagnosed with PTSD. John
had the worst case and that affected Jack too because of their close relationship. The close bond unraveled and Jack started rebelling. It took a lot of Bible study to realize it was the enemy causing the trouble and I began to fully seek God’s help again. I stopped blaming John. John saw what I was doing and followed suit. He began to forgive himself. Then things just completely changed. We were disappointed that the book didn’t go to paperback and we didn’t get the movie that was “supposed” to happen but it wasn’t the right time for a number of reasons. When we were writing the book, we were coached to appeal to mass audiences, and the supernatural aspects had to be watered down. That has changed now. I think God had a hand in the delay so that things would be the way He wanted. Interestingly, we have just started working with screenwriters and a producer for a feature film. RM: Tell me about the new sailing outreach you’re starting, GodSwell. Jean: God keeps throwing people in front of us and they all want to go sailing with John. John loves to be out on the water, sailing and just talking to people. It is what makes him truly happy. Sailing on the ocean or in the bay is the perfect place to experience God’s peace. John: Our backgrounds enable us to take this in so many different directions. I was a crew member and volunteer with Challenged America. I coached people with disabilities and saw how the whole charitable operation worked. Jean is a volunteer at UCSD Moores Cancer Center and we see opportunities to take cancer patients out for a day of sailing. We are involved with several different churches and ministries. We’re looking into doing Christian weddings and funerals on board. There are lots of open doors, but in order to grow it as a ministry, we need donations and help from volunteers. RM: Do you have a boat now? John: Yes, a 38-foot cutter named Espiritu Santo, which is Spanish for Holy Spirit. We’ll be using the boat in our ministry. RM: What advice do you have for someone facing a seemingly impossible situation? Jean: Pray hard, and pray until it happens!
John and Jean Silverwood, along with their daughter Amelia, founded the nonprofit GodSwell in April of this year. The mission is to provide a therapeutic environment for teens and adults who are physically disabled, battling cancer, suffering from PTSD, or other challenges that they feel can be eased by the serenity of sailing. They serve by organizing inclusive sailing events and by providing Christian-based mentorship, education and recreational opportunities. They are excited to show others who are experiencing trials, the tremendous healing, hope, and peace that can come from sailing. Amelia Silverwood
To learn more about GodSwell go to: www.jsilverwood.com
GodSwell is really the fulfillment of the promise Jean made to God in the midst of ship-wreck as recounted in the Silverwood’s book Black Wave: “I told God that if he would let us survive this night, I would make it mean something worthwhile. And then, somehow, I felt calmer than I have ever felt. Unreasonably so. Irra-
tionally so. I looked over the scene of our wrecked life and I smiled – a crazy smile for sure – and I looked through the dark at the mad beauty of it.” In addition to the trauma from the accident, Jean also lost both of her parents to cancer but was able to find joy in volunteering regularly at UC San Diego’s Moores Cancer Center. She has a special place in her heart for those suffering from illness and is eager to reveal the peace and clarity that sailing offers to patients as well as their caregivers. And even though John was left disabled, he refuses to let his disability get in the way of doing what he loves. Through sailing, John encourages others to rise above tragic circumstances and find God’s messages of hope, mercy and deliverance. And Amelia was eager to join GodSwell and assist her parents in fulfilling the mission.
ONE DETERMINED DAD… meet
Pastor Lee Jong-rak Writer: Mei Ling Nazar Photography: David Kim
lmost every night, an alarm rings in the home of Lee Jong-rak and his wife. It signals that a baby has been dropped off in a drop box installed in the outer wall of their home to provide a safe place for babies that would otherwise be left to die on the streets. As a pastor of the Jusarang Community Church in Seoul, South Korea, he knows all to well how much perfection is heralded. Since the drop box offers a place for leaving the babies anonymously, many of the babies that Pastor Lee and his wife receive are physically or mentally handicapped. Since 2009, more than 630 babies have been saved and many have been adopted. Now, through the documentary film based on his life, The Drop Box, Pastor Lee hopes it will bring light to the 150 million orphans worldwide that are waiting to be adopted. In the United States alone, there are 100,000 children waiting for a family to call their own. With the help of a translator, Risen sat down with Pastor Lee for an exclusive interview to learn more about how he started his orphanage and the children he now calls his own.
Interviewed exclusively for Risen Magazine in San Diego, California
Risen Magazine: When you were growing up, did you ever think that you would be running an orphanage? Pastor Lee: I never imagined that I would be running an orphanage. My grandfather was a great lover of his neighbors. He always fed people that were hungry, so I grew up watching him take care of others. I think that might have had an impact on me. RM: When your son was born with a handicap, you blamed God. What thoughts ran through your head? PL: We had a C-section and the doctor pulled out the baby and showed me that the baby had a huge lump on his face. The first thought that came across my mind was, “God why did you give me such an unhealthy baby?” But God didn’t waste time to convict me. In about 30 seconds, He convicted me. “Didn’t I tell you to rejoice and be thankful all the time and in all things? Don’t you know that I am the God who works through all things?” I was really convicted and I repented right then and there. We were separated right away from our baby because they had to do surgery. I couldn’t share the news with my wife right away. I told her about a week later. My wife although she cried, she took it well. RM: If I get misty-eyed during the interview, I apologize. I have a fourmonth old son and these stories touch my heart. PL: My son’s disability wasn’t as severe to begin with, but about the fourth month, the infection came. As soon as he was transported to the hospital, he
couldn’t breathe. There was a lack of oxygen supply and that is when some of the damage took place. The doctors prepared us for the worst. They did everything to get him alive again but they couldn’t. I remember praying and crying out to God, “If you are going to take my son away like this, why did you give him to me? Please remember how I was obedient to You. Please remember how I followed You. Please remember your servant.” God listened to the prayers and my son’s heart started beating again. He is still alive today. But God never healed him. The lack of oxygen caused him to lose his brain functions. He is completely paralyzed and is unable to do anything on his own except blink his eyes. I thought to myself, “He looks like he is alive, but he is just as good as dead.” It was such a hard place to raise disabled children in Korea. The support is better in the United States. Also, at that time, it was so much harder. You had to give up your own career and life. But through my experience, God made me pray. He made me listen to His word. God drew me closer to Him through my son. Through the suffering, I was able to confess to God how much I loved Him. I prayed that I would become a good father and that I could take care of my son. All I could do was surrender to God. I realized that nothing is under my control. That’s when I realized it is up to God and that is when I surrendered my life and my son’s life. I could hear Him speak to me, “Trust me with your life. Do not worry about anything.” I went to a prayer mountain and just prayed. The pain turned into thanksgiving and I could live a life that glorified God. RM: Your son spent the first 14 years of his life in the hospital. During this risenmagazine.com 53
time, you would visit the rooms of other patients. What made you decide to do this? PL: My son had to stay at the hospital for a long time. While he was there, I began to pray for other patients and other children. I went through different wards and a lot of good things happened. People asked me for prayer. I would tell them that they needed to believe in Jesus first. So people began to accept Christ. The number grew little by little. At one point, there were 70 people in one hospital room praying. The hospital people freaked out and said, “What are you doing here?” I said, “I never invited them. They just came on their own.” They ended up providing us with a place to pray; people started repenting right there in the hospital lobby. One man, who used to be an evangelist, was now running a bar, repented and started speaking in tongues. There was a boy that had brain cancer that only had a few weeks to live. I went to the prayer mountain to pray for my own son, but God kept convicting me to pray for the boy. I ended up praying for the boy instead. I came back and his mom said that her son was healed and was being discharged. His family and I worshiped together. There was another girl who was blind and the doctors had given up on her. The grandfather asked me to pray for her. I asked him, “Do you believe in Jesus?” He said, “I used to believe and when I was young I was going to go to seminary.” I told him, “I think God is calling you back through your granddaughter.” I said, “Call all the family members.” They all came after several days. Eight people came total. Each and every one of them came to Christ. We started praying earnestly and fifteen days later she could see! That is when I received my calling to share the Gospel. RM: You met a woman who asked you to take her paralyzed granddaughter. You came up with a bargain that if you agreed to take her in, she would con54 Risen Magazine
At one point, I was raising thirteen babies under three months. I wasn’t sleeping at all! vert to Christianity. How did you decide that you were going to take her in and what made you think to come up with the bargain? PL: She came up to me at the hospital and said, “I’ve seen you at the hospital taking care of your son. My granddaughter has the same symptoms.” She shared, “I don’t have too many days left, but there is no else to take care of my granddaughter. Everyone in my family has disabilities.” She said, “Please take care of my granddaughter after I die and I will believe in Jesus.” That was the condition that she proposed. I couldn’t believe what she was asking. I was already overwhelmed by taking care of my own son. I couldn’t think of taking care of anyone else. I didn’t think it was right for her to ask me and put conditions. But she said she would believe in Jesus. I could not say no to her because of that. So I very reluctantly shared the Gospel with her. I wasn’t rejoicing. But it was God’s plan to save her and God’s plan to save her granddaughter through this. The next year, the grandmother passed away. I hadn’t told my wife about the deal. So I prayed, “We are already struggling so much with our son. Is this really Your will God? If so, comfort my wife and deal with her heart so she can welcome this girl too.” When I shared with my wife, she responded, “If that is what God wants then that is what we should do.” I was so relieved. When the girl came, I still remember how my wife held her and prayed for her. That’s how our ministry began. She was the first one we adopted. Then children who had been abandoned by their parents started coming to us. There was a couple that was going to get a divorce because they had a disabled child. I said, “Do not get a divorce; give the child to me.” I tried to convince them to keep their child for about six months through counseling. They weren’t able to, so I ended up taking the baby. Some of our children are adopte d. Some we are fostering. We started the baby box after a girl came in
the middle of the night in a fishing box. She was freezing. I was fearful that we wouldn’t get to the babies in time. In Korea, it gets very cold at night. So we decided that we needed to do something to protect the babies from the cold and stray cats. RM: When people brought their children to you, did you ever have any hesitations or second thoughts? PL: There is really no time or room for second thoughts. We have to go rescue the babies right away. I think of them as my children that God has prepared and given to me. It is something my wife and I have agreed to. RM: There has been some pushback from the government with your orphanage. How have you and your wife responded to this? PL: We have no means or reason to fight against them. We just go to God. God has been protecting us. God’s shield is impenetrable. They criticize us and in a way persecute us. But nothing we do changes because of that. We are to rescue and protect lives. That cannot be stopped no matter what. No matter what kind of pressure or criticisms we may face, we have to focus on the babies that are dying. I have to serve these babies night and day. At one point, I was raising thirteen babies under three months. I wasn’t sleeping at all! Volunteers come during the day and I was able to rest. So far 630 babies have gone through the baby box. We see about 25 babies per month since 2012. RM: What do you hope to accomplish by your story being told through the movie? PL: My ultimate goal through this movie is that the baby box would be closed, meaning that it would no longer be needed because children would not be abandoned. The unborn need to be protected. The mothers need to be taken care of. That kind of world and society is what I dream of. risenmagazine.com 55
Redirected Director: Brian Ivie
Writer: Mei Ling Nazar Photography: David Kim
hen Brian Ivie first read about Pastor Lee Jong-rak’s story in the Los Angeles Times, he immediately thought it would be his ticket into a big film festival. As a young director just finishing film school, Ivie gathered some friends and flew to Seoul, Korea,to make a documentary about the work the pastor was doing. What started out as a tenminute short film soon became a full-length feature. Just as the direction of the film changed, God used the experience to change the director’s heart. Ivie sat down with Risen and shared how he went from making a movie to realizing how he needed a relationship with Christ after witnessing firsthand the way Pastor Lee and his wife loved children.
Interviewed exclusively for Risen Magazine in San Diego, California
Risen Magazine: How did you first hear about Pastor Lee? Brian Ivie: I read his story in the LA Times on June 20, 2011. The article was about a pastor who had built a mailbox for unwanted babies. More specifically, it was a depository for the disabled babies. So it was like a bin for the most disposable kids. I was eating my breakfast and I just kept rereading the article. But I felt like it really applied to me even though I wasn’t Korean and I didn’t have any Korean friends to my knowledge. I had no idea that this man would change my life forever. But I did know that it compelled me. The courage displayed was that of the classics where it wasn’t a one time heroic effort, but an ongoing courage. I decided to email him. I heard back a 56 Risen Magazine
month later. He replied back, “Dear Brian, I don’t know what it means to make a documentary film, but you can come live with me for a month.” That would become the second most important decision of my life. RM: What was it in the article that resonated with you? Had you been adopted? BI: I had no reason to connect with this story. I was compelled by the story of love. I had seen love depicted in films, but I had never seen a love like this before. It was gritty and messy. I wanted to know what motivated him to do it. I realized too that if I didn’t do something about this everyone would forget this story.
It was ironic that I got saved while making a movie because movies were my god. RM: Pastor Lee invited you to come live with him. How did that transpire into a movie? BI: It started out as a short film. Maybe five to ten minutes long. It became an eighty-minute feature. We didn’t think that we would raise very much money. We also didn’t want to spend that much time on it. We just saw it as a way to get to a big film festival. I wanted to help these kids, but I wanted to also become famous. It was a cocktail of motivations. I would come to understand later what those motivations really were. I later saw how dark those motivations were of using people to get something that I wanted. We started out with a Kickstarter campaign to raise $5,000 and get some cameras. We would fly out over our Christmas break as we were still in college. We ended up raising $65,000. Another person connected us with a woman who gave us a red camera to use. We flew to Seoul, Korea, to start filming about a man who built a mailbox for abandoned babies. RM: You became a Christian while you were filming. What was that process like? BI: I thought I was a Christian because I was good. In America, it is easy to think that you are a Christian because it is decorative. It was ironic that I got saved while making a movie because movies were my god. They were everything to me. It was what I worshipped. I was very wary of born-again evangelical Christians. But then I met some Christians that were different including my college roommate, Will. He showed me that Christians were people that aren’t afraid to be known. When I got to Korea, I met a man
that wasn’t afraid to be known. He had a past. He was drunk for most of his twenties and chased skirts. I could relate to that. I was interacting with a reality that was more real than any of the dreams I had ever had for my life. Before I went on the trip, I bought a cross necklace because I wanted to be Christian director. I wanted to be that guy that others could trust. At some point, the cross can’t just be something that you buy at a store; it is what bought you. What changed my life was after seeing these disabled and broken children being dropped off, was that I was broken too, and that I had just as much going on inside of me. What the church never told me was that who you are inside, is who you are. I heard a sermon about how Jesus Christ took my place and died for my sins. I didn’t think I had any sin. I had been addicted to pornography for years. I hit my knees for the first time. I experienced the Father’s love. I saw it through Pastor Lee who took all these kids into his home. RM: What do you hope this movie accomplishes? BI: I would hope that people see what God’s love is really like and what the Gospel is. Film has the ability to reach people that might never go to church. I hope that we can show that people matter to God and that they are significant. I think when people see how this man gives everything for these kids they will see how they matter too. Focus on the Family and Kindred Image have started the Global Orphan Fund and use the movie as a platform to help children that are forgotten and discarded in Korea and children in America in foster care that are forgotten. We want to help kids in our own backyard as well as overseas. We can put an end to these things. Stories are rare, but suffering is not. risenmagazine.com 57
58 Risen Magazine
THE AGE OF ADALINE Blake Lively Writer: Kelli Gillespie Photor: Courtesy of Lionsgate
You know Blake Lively from films like The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and Green Lantern where she met her now husband Ryan Reynolds. She spent five years on television as Serena Van der Woodson on CW’s hit show Gossip Girl. Lively and her hubby welcomed their first child, a baby girl named James, into their family this past December and the new mom not only looked stunning, but was full of energy to talk about her latest role as the title character in The Age of Adaline.
Interviewed at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills at Los Angeles, California
Risen Magazine: You had a baby girl in December, so reflecting on a theme in the film where your character doesn’t age but everyone around her does including seeing her daughter from birth all the way through her twilight years… what are your thoughts on needing to have a future in order to love a certain way?
Blake Lively: It’s the idea that immortality is very appealing until you realize what makes life so special is the people you get to live it with. It seems hoakie, but imagine if you eliminated everyone in your life and you got to live decade through decade, century through century – you wouldn’t want that. It’s about the experience and it’s about the people you love, so it really shows you that time and love are directly related to each other.
RM: What are your personal thoughts on aging?
BL: I feel like people worry about mortality, but aging is something society puts on you. It’s more of an aesthetic thing and something that other people are worried about like, “Oh you are looking older.” But I don’t think people sit at home and think, “I’m going to age slightly.” When you are worried that your hand is looking older or you have a crease in your eye, it is because it’s innately and instinctively related to mortality. To me, if you take away any of that superficial element then it is sad to not age.
RM: What were the challenges to playing Adaline?
BL: The approach to this character was a very unique one because I almost felt like I had to play so many different women in one. Any normal woman from the time they are young until the time they mature into adulthood, they become a different person. Also depending on what time you come of age, your manners are different especially being born in 1908 and in the 1920s; women were very much ladies. So I had to take that, but then also adapt it to modern times because Adaline had to evolve.
RM: Wardrobe actually plays quite a large role since Adaline’s life spans so many decades. Talk to the importance of selecting outfits.
RM: The characters talk about how it is easy to have success and fame, but the hard part is making a difference. How are you choosing to make a difference in your real life?
BL: Wardrobe is a very important feature because it’s selfexpression; how you dress every day is how you express yourself. Also for a woman it’s that much more important because of women’s rights and a woman’s place has changed very much from 1908 to now. So you really get to see that social shift in the hemlines and the shapes.
BL: I feel like there are many different levels – your idea as just a human, or a parent, you want to make a difference in your child’s life or your family’s life. But then I’m lucky to be given a platform when I get to sit here and speak and reach more people. So there are people that we [as celebrities] can reach and lives we can help with the voice we’re given. So in my company Preserve, we give a portion of our proceeds back to Covenant House, which is providing beds and clothes and food to homeless kids in the U.S. We also help them start their own programs like a savings account and they let them live there for more than just 30 days; they can stay up to a year-and-a-half, and they really teach them to be independent. It is so important to give people the education and skills to take care of themselves. It is just a small thing, but it makes it really rewarding.
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Writer: Kelli Gillespie Photography: Taylor Abeel
s a wife and mother of four, Stacie Barba does her best work in the wee hours of the morning. Juggling school schedules and activities between photo shoots and business meetings has been her norm for the past decade. This entrepreneur has done what it takes to balance family while building businesses. From fashion to tech, weddings, and now jewelry, Barba wants to encourage women and help them feel strong, bold and beautiful. In New York she styled top celebrities from Mariah Carey to Ron Howard and his family. She spent some time in Italy and returned to the States to start a bridal business. Named Coordinator of the Year, two years in a row for TheKnot.com, Barba has also been featured in numerous magazines, and was involved in planning a wedding for the CW show “Hitched or Ditched.” With her latest venture into jewelry, Risen sat down with this creative lady to learn more about Mina & Company.
Interviewed exclusively for Risen Magazine in La Jolla, California
Risen Magazine: You graduated with a fashion degree and moved to New York City. What was life like for you during that season? Stacie Barba: I started in fashion in Sacramento [California] at Nordstrom. When my manager moved to New York, I moved as well because they needed help in management. I had such a great experience. I got to meet a lot of really cool people. My friend worked for John F. Kennedy Jr., as his assistant at George magazine and her mom was Editor of People magazine, so I got to meet JFK Jr. before he passed. And some of my clients at the time included Kathy Lee Griffith, Mariah Carey and Ron Howard. It was a fun period in my life, but I got homesick after a year and wanted to move. It was a really hard decision but I did leave. RM: What did you do once you moved back to California? SB: Well, I actually worked in tech at MCI before it became WorldCom. I worked in their technical support center and totally had to train my brain since it was so different from fashion. However, it helped me become more confident because after I had worked there for a few years I quit and I moved to Italy for three months. My mom is Italian and I’ve always loved the Italian culture so I went with my best friend, who is Italian, and was a model with Elle Macpherson and Cindy Crawford. I lived with her family and kept it as home base and went from Northern Italy to Venice. I went to Rome and Florence was actually my favorite place to be. There was so much art and a lot of creative inspiration. I was around 23 years old and took a train that detaches and gets placed on a boat to Sicily. I went to the city of Palermo where the food is amazing and the people were so kind.
When I got home I got a job at AT&T doing technical project managing because I couldn’t find anything in fashion. All the jobs required me to move to Los Angeles or New York and I wasn’t ready for that. I worked as a switch engineer for about seven years and I was the only girl out of 45 men. In the world of telecom you have to prove yourself and be tough. Along with telecom, my same Italian friend, was Vice President of a modeling agency in Sacramento and she put on fashion shows and asked me to help put together a bridal fashion show. RM: Did that give you your first taste of the bridal world before you launched your own wedding company? SB: I’ve always loved weddings and I used to draw wedding dresses in the fifth grade. We would drive to South Lake Tahoe growing up and on trips I would draw wedding dresses. I love the creativity of weddings. I moved to San Diego and lived in Coronado and still worked for AT&T for about five years. I got married in 2002 and we had our first son, Austin, and I was at a point where my more traditional husband didn’t want me to work, but I like to work, so I thought if I did something where I had my own hours it might be all right. I had planned my own wedding and I was already a project manager and I had a fashion degree so I thought all the skills lent themselves perfectly to the wedding business so I started my own company which I grew from 2002 to 2014. At my peak I was Coordinator of the Year, two years in a row, for TheKnot.com and I did a wedding show for the CW Network called “Hitched or Ditched.” Basically I was the event planner and had to pull off a wedding in seven days for a bride and groom I had never met and then they decided if risenmagazine.com 61
they were going to get married or break up. The couple I planned for did end up getting married. The producer was actually the producer for The Bachelor and wanted me to do more episodes, but I had three kids at the time and I just couldn’t make it work. My joy is to encourage others and see them happy. RM: What went into the decision to sell the wedding company last year and start your jewelry business, Mina & Company? SB: I’ve always loved jewelry and in the past four to five years the wedding business has been changing dynamically. I was having a really hard time adjusting once Instagram and Facebook really started getting big. I knew in order for me to adapt to the time I had to get into social media. Having already been at the top of my game, I tend to be a little private and I had a couple of photos lifted from [my] website where people had copied my design. It was hard for me to understand that it is actually a great compliment to have someone copy my work instead of feeling protective about my creations and ideas. It was good for me to learn that it’s okay for someone to think something is cool and use it because in actuality that is how the world moves and how the fashion industry sets trends and so forth. When I found out I was pregnant with my fourth child it was getting harder and harder to find a good balance of home, work, and my family. I 62 Risen Magazine
was missing soccer games and my husband wanted me home a little more so I sold the wedding business last year as my priorities shifted. Mina & Company came about when I was watching Pregnant in Heels [Bravo’s docudrama] and there was a Hawaiian girl named Mina and I thought it was a cool name. And when I create a company name I’m very strategic. I thought the name was different and I love Tiffany & Co. and so I thought the two together would be memorable. I wanted to create a brand like Kate Spade or Ralph Lauren; something that doesn’t go out of style. I want Mina & Company to be trendy and classic hitting every aspect of a woman from mom, to sister, to wife, to friend. After I decided on this, my husband, who is Mexican, says, “Do you know what Mina means?” I said, “No, I just think it’s a cool name.” He says, “It means goldmine in Spanish.” I said, “Well that’s a good thing!” RM: Talk to me about how your company works. Do you design the pieces or are you gathering accessories together and then helping find the best fit for your customer? SB: Some of the pieces I design and as we grow I will design more. The other pieces I buy and I try to find things that not everybody has and that fit with the brand. I will buy some staple pieces, like hoop earrings, but for the most part I pick memorable items. Eventually I will have collection pieces too. I have a wide range of prices because I didn’t want to go too narrow with prices too high, or too low, where the quality is cheap. Because I came
from Nordstrom, quality and customer service are key. I want my clients to come back and have a personal experience. The way I have created the business is that when you go on the website there is a questionnaire to curate your style. And however you answer the questions a stylist looks them over and will create a custom box for you based on your style and it gets sent right to your doorstep. So if you are a VIP then you will get a box sent to you each month with new items that are curated to your style and those items are not available on the website; they are more exclusive. And if you don’t want to be a monthly subscriber, you can always shop directly on the website and pick out any of those items individually. RM: How has faith played a role in your journey through fashion, tech, weddings and jewelry? SB: It’s been huge. I grew up in church my whole life. When I was living in New York I wasn’t really living for the Lord, but God loves you no matter what. As I grew older, my faith grew and the one thing I said was, “I am marrying a man who loves God.” My husband is a Christian and it is so important when it comes to marriage and family. I have learned so much, and especially in the past two years, I’ve really learned to trust the Lord. I have changed business plans a couple of times but overall I said, “Lord I put this business in your hands with YOU first.” Now, I can see the direction it is going and there are so many doors opening. To me, jewelry is the item that finishes your whole outfit; it’s the icing on the cake. It makes someone feel like she is the present God made her to be. I want women to feel beautiful and if I can show them how to do it, then I will. risenmagazine.com 63
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