How an unplanned film changed lives

How an unplanned film changed lives

Written on 01/06/2021
Joel Gordon

God uses artists as advocates

Written by Joel Gordon

Since my teenage years, I’ve dreamed about creating or acting in a film that would not only be compelling artistically but would help change lives in tangible ways.

Many artists I’ve spoken to lately have echoed this desire to spark meaningful change through their films, visual art, or writing. In part, this desire led me to a career as an actor and a documentary filmmaker.

But the most impactful project I’ve been blessed to participate in wasn’t one of the CBC primetime documentaries I produced or the Hollywood film I acted in.

The project that stands out was a Spirit-led short video with no budget that helped to save the life of a friend.

I didn’t plan to make a life-changing film. The EFC had recently purchased some new equipment, as the creative director, I needed to test it out. Instead of filming some random test footage, I decided to produce a short video that could tell a story.

As I was thinking about colourful indoor locations I could access, I remembered a local flower shop that my friend, Claudia manages. She agreed to let me film in her store.

She told me she had just found out her kidneys were failing and she needed dialysis as soon as possible. Even with this devastating news, her voice over the phone carried a sense of peace I believe only God could give her.

I wanted to capture her compelling, yet simple story about peace in crisis with the beautiful backdrop of her flower shop.

We didn’t know then that God had other incredible plans for this short film.

We planned to film on a slow night in the shop. On camera, Claudia revealed more troubling details about her condition. 

Normally, once kidneys reach 15 per cent function, a person needs to start dialysis. However, Claudia’s kidneys had dropped to only seven per cent function. She was in critical need of a kidney transplant, but in Canada, the wait time for a transplant can be four to six years.

Her situation weighed on me deeply, and I began praying for her. I shared the finished video with her and gave her my blessing to use it however she wished. 

Claudia posted the video on her Facebook profile and it was shared around the world. Many people were prompted to support Claudia; some even get tested to see if they were a live donor match. 

Claudia started dialysis and a few months passed. Valerie, Claudia’s missionary friend in Japan saw the video and shared it on her timeline. Valerie’s sister, Julia who is a nurse in Toronto, saw her sister’s post from Japan and decided to get tested. She was a match!

For Claudia, the often-lengthy process of finding a donor took less than six months. What a gift from God. What a sacrificial and loving gift from one disciple of Christ to another.

I’m reminded of John 13:35, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples if you have love one for another.” Sacrificial acts of love speak volumes to a world that is plagued by selfishness, greed, and isolation.

Four years later, Claudia is healthy. Her body accepted the donated kidney. Julia, her kidney donor, is also doing well.

Claudia and I have shared this story together several times in different forums and recently participated in an online seminar with the University Health Network’s Centre for Living Organ Donation.

When we abide in Christ and allow God’s Spirit to lead us, God can multiply our small gifts in remarkable ways.

He can transform everyday or mundane moments of life, like testing film equipment, into something that can change lives. Through these situations, we have opportunities to bear witness to God’s goodness and share about His loving, healing, and powerful work.

This is a story of God’s gift of peace to Claudia. It’s a story of a video He used to make a divine connection. It’s also a story of a godly young woman, a living organ donor, who allowed her convictions and beliefs to be transformed into life-saving action. 

Will you let God use your story and your creative gifts? How can we come together as gospel-driven writers, performing artists, and digital content creators to proclaim and live out the gospel in these challenging times?

Will we find new ways of sharing stories to save lives and become active stewards of God’s creation?

Pray with me that God will use a collective of creative artists in Canada to mentor the next generation of creatives and extend life-giving change.