“The Jesus Revolution” by William Klein

I was invited to an event last Sunday by my friend, “The Chosen” star, Jonathan Roumie. Roumie is starring in “The Jesus Movement” with Kelsey Grammar that is in theaters on November 18th.

Reverend Greg Laurie, a producer of the film, hosted his “Southern California Harvest Event” in San Diego’s Petco Park and at Anaheim’s Angels Stadium, on Saturday and Sunday nights respectively, to get the word out. Laurie, a pastor at the Harvest Christian Fellowship, was part of the Jesus Movement of the 70s along with Chuck Smith and Lonnie Frisbee.

The Jesus Movement was started by Lonnie Frisbee in the 60s. Frisbee had an interesting biography. He came from a troubled home life. Raised in a single parent household, his mother met some sketchy characters and often brought them home. He was exposed to a seedy side of life your average suburban kids didn’t face. He was sexually molested by an older cousin and this affected him greatly. He would self-medicate as a form of escape to deal with the psychological pain and suffering. He also struggled with his homosexuality.

One day, in the desert of Palm Springs, he had a born-again experience that inspired him to become an evangelist. He was told in the vision that he would become a great spiritual leader and bring people closer to God.

Chuck Smith was an evangelical preacher of a fledgling congregation dwindling in numbers in Southern California. He was judgmental of hippies until he met Frisbee. 

In a scene from the movie, we see Frisbee and Smith meet in Chuck Smith’s kitchen. Frisbee’s revelation inspired the conservative Christian to take another look and examine his own judgements about youth. Frisbee’s and Smith’s relationship blossomed and the movement flourished as a result of their commitment to the Gospels. The movement garnered recognition from “Time Magazine” with Lonnie Frisbee gracing its cover in the early 70s.

Greg Laurie interviewed Roumie and Director Jon Erwin. Both men spoke about how powerful it was to be a part of the project and how Frisbee’s life will inspire others to see how God can work through the fractured nature of people. Both men identified how the Holy Spirit was moving on the set.

When an intention to help people change their consciousness for the better is out there, it is bound to be reflected in the art. Roumie instinctively knows that the work of an actor is to be an instrument of the Holy Spirit. His dedication to his craft and being true to his character in a scene is admirable. Frisbee spoke with a high-pitched voice, and Roumie worked tirelessly on this aspect of his character to capture the essence of his character. 

Laurie was complimentary of Roumie’s portrayal and craftsmanship in bringing this larger-than-life character to the screen. A character like Frisbee proves that God chooses the least likely characters to fulfill the mission of Jesus’s message. The New Testament documents this with the errant ways of the disciples, but the message resonates today when we see how strange couplings of characters like Frisbee and Smith can inspire a movement when the message is built on bringing good news to the poor.

In his sermon, Laurie quoted scripture saying, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14, NIV).

At the event Laurie called for a new Jesus Movement. Laurie drew parallels between the 60s and 70s and today. Laurie recognizes that secular society has compromised our values in such a way that we need to call forth that which is best in us – the Godly nature of society’s being. 

Our divisiveness, our selfishness, our inability to reach out to one another is causing a great chasm in our society. Looking the other way at racism, ageism, classism and tough-minded resistance to being open to others will be the death of us. This will not sustain us as a country. It will be our undoing if we don’t address and identify with others in compassion and uncover the power of scripture to teach us the way of love.

I haven’t seen the film yet, but if it delivers it can go a long way in opening hearts to change.

More importantly, Roumie’s understanding of the power of Church and ecumenical devotion to others will continue to bring a “Jesus Movement” to fruition through his work on “The Chosen.” He and the crew of this film’s dedication to reaching out through dialogue and helping us recognize commonality in discernment of scripture can bridge a divide that is badly needed.

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