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  • Writer's pictureKen Silvers

Jesus Revolution

This week I continue with the theme of films based on true stories with "Jesus Revolution", now playing in theaters. The film begins in 1969 Southern California where we are introduced to pastor Chuck Smith (Kelsey Grammer) and his dying church. Pastor Chuck is having a difficult time reaching young people, which includes the living free generation of hippies. Pastor Chuck's daughter Janette (Ally Loanides) has also become a bit disillusioned with the church and feels her dad needs to work harder on reaching her age group. However matters are about to change for Janette after she picks up a colorful hitchhiker named Lonnie Frisbee (Jonathan Roumie of "The Chosen") when she is out driving one afternoon. Lonnie says he has come from San Francisco and is traveling around telling people about the life and ministry of Jesus. When Janette brings Lonnie home to meet Pastor Chuck, he is very skeptical at first, but eventually warms to the hippie who spreads the gospel of Jesus. Pastor Chuck brings Lonnie to his Calvary Chapel where the few members in attendance stare at him as if he has the plague. While Pastor Chuck is attempting to get his congregation to warm up to Lonnie, we meet high school student Greg Laurie (Joel Courtney), who after meeting free wheeling high school student Cathe (Anna Grace Barlow), leaves his Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps school to join her on a trip to a concert where Timothy Leary will be appearing to convince young people to take drugs for self discovery. We learn about Greg's background which includes him living with his divorced mom Charlene (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) in a trailer on the beach. Charlene is very troubled to the point Greg can't take it anymore, and becomes deeply involved with drugs and his new hippie friends. Meanwhile, the combined ministry of Pastor Chuck and Lonnie, at first rejected by the members of Calvary Chapel, has exploded in popularity due to the inspirational messages from Lonnie, and a Christian band now performing at the church. The budding popularity of the movement among hippies and young people in general sparked the Jesus revolution, and eventually reaches Cathe after her sister nearly dies from a drug overdose. Cathe begins attending Calvary Chapel, and eventually convinces Greg to as well, after he is nearly involved in a car accident. The almost accident leads Greg to a meeting in the street on a rainy night with Lonnie who tells the wayward teen that thanks to the love of God he doesn't have to run anymore. Greg is eventually baptised in the ocean by Lonnie, and begins a new life at a house where Lonnie and his wife have taken in many homeless hippies who are helping spread the gospel of Jesus. The movement led to hundreds of young people being baptised at the beaches of Southern California, and even led to a cover story in "Time" magazine in 1971. While all seemed to be running smoothly for Pastor Chuck and Lonnie, they eventually have a conflict leading to Lonnie leaving the local ministry. Despite Greg being heartbroken when the leaders of his new family prepare to leave, he discovers he is being led to the ministry. Even though his relationship with Cathe has become rocky, the two eventually reconcile, and are to be married. Pastor Chuck has purchased an old church building for Greg to start his ministry. This film is a wonderful look back at the Jesus movement which began in California in the late 1960's and spread all over the world. The actors are all perfectly cast, with Roumie being just as charismatic as he is in the role of Jesus on "The Chosen". "Jesus Revolution" is a perfect example of how Jesus loves everyone, so the next time you are sitting in your church pew and begin clutching your pearls if someone walks in who is different from you, just remember Jesus is love. Now playing in theaters. (Rated PG-13)



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