President of the Christian Bookseller's Association (CBA), Curtis Riskey was having prayer months ago in his daily journey to follow Christ. During his prayer time, the Lord spoke to his heart about an industry we have served for over forty two years, the motion picture industry. As the leader of the industry at CBA, he reflected, read his Bible and then after a bit had the courage to call me about films, their promotion, the state of the market and more.
One of the greatest honors I have ever received was the first time I received a call from Bill Anderson, the president of CBA, but at the time, it was 1990 and the industry needed counsel in growth. Matt Seward and I worked as partners to invest in CBA by assembling a growth strategy, conducted research and guided CBA. Decades later, what an honor to hear from Curtis because he is a hard working visionary who asked for help in a new way, as it relates specifically to film. The industry has gone through so many challenges with the bankruptcy of Family Bookstores and a shrinking number of outlets. Retailing is changing, and we needed to merge film, technology and research together.
From this conversation, our firm ended up working as a Senior Advisor to the CBA and we were even more honored to bring the 2016 Paramount MGM movie, BEN HUR to the CBA UNITE conference in 2016. Joe Battaglia helped us connect with Mark Burnett and Roma Downey to bring this amazing film to the faith based audiences of Christian retailing. Foreign and Domestic the film has made almost 96 million dollars. Like an amazing tapestry of good people working together to help CBA, we thanked God for this, but our story was only beginning.
In his prayer time recently, Curtis truly felt led to call and ask about a special appointment he wanted me to consider. His idea birthed in creating a new position for the first time in history, to become the FILM COMMISSIONER for CBA in 2017. This would be a forum where we could build a valuable faith and film database, create an even more powerful network of many groups and promote films of faith helping film companies, Christian retailers and secular exhibitors come together in unity. The transformation of Christian Businesses as a network sounded exciting to me and this has been Curtis's vision for so long. There was only one answer, "Yes, I would be honored".
What an amazing challenge this is to serve a community of faith based professionals and I am personally humbled to know this would not have happened, without many people we love praying and Curtis giving me opportunity. Graciously, we have been preparing for this important beginning and today, we had our first SKYPE call with the CBA managers, President Curtis Riskey, VP Marketing Eric Grim and VP Chuck Steinart to brainstorm, plan and discuss solutions and ways we can do a better job helping others in our retailing, film, box office and overall community.
I would personally be remiss if I did not personally thank James Randolph Smith, who first introduced me to CBA and John Styll the former founder of CCM Magazine. Back in the late eighties and early nineties, these wonderful men believed in us and honored us by giving our firm an opportunity to serve them. We are grateful for their leadership and without great leaders like Randy, John and people like Roland Lundy, Jerry Parks and the list goes on and on, we would not have served the people in music, publishing and film.
Please remember to pray for us, to lift up all the future dealings as we move forward in making a lasting difference in the lives of the film industry, its leaders and across the board. Pray God uses us to serve others, to help bring an industry together in every way possible.
When we get in on what God is doing, great things happen. All of us have opportunities, but what we do with our time, our talent and resources should be about giving back. Helping CBA as a Film Commissioner in many ways is like being an ambassador to the trade organization who serves this great market. We need each other, and as we continue to make motion pictures and follow His leading on our lives, we will do everything short of sin to help CBA be successful! (By the way, my church LIFECHURCH always says that too!)
Let's begin to work together and make a difference for Him.
Kevin McAfee is a filmmaker who writes for the purpose of inspiring others to make a difference in the world through faith in God and using the visual language of film. His blog shares the hopes of impacting culture, because his heart is in media missions and the church.