‘Overcomer’ challenges the audience

“What do you allow to define you?”

An orphaned teenager struggles to find her place in the world, making bad choices while seeking to fill the void generated by the instability of her circumstances. A grandmother finds herself raising a hurting grandchild. A successful high school coach’s confidence is shaken when his job is at stake. A dying man finds peace after a lifetime of wasted opportunities.

“Overcomer” — the latest motion picture by the Kendrick brothers — promises to hit a chord with anyone entering the theater with an open heart. The theme could not be more current. At a time when society seeks to redefine our significance, values and morals, “Overcomer” presents a challenging question that rings beyond the church walls: “What do you allow to define you?”

After the massive success of the 2015 No. 1 box-office hit “War Room,” the Kendrick brothers surprise us again with a storyline that entertains, inspires and unapologetically preaches the central message of the Gospel: We are, above all and before anything else, children of the living God.

Alex Kendrick summarizes it best: “We want to remind people that the creator gets to define its creation. There is no better place to define our identity than in the one who created us. (…) So why would I trust my identity in changing things, over a God who created me and loves me? That’s what we want people to walk out of the theater thinking about.”

On Aug. 22, the eve of the movie’s release in 1,800 screens nationwide, I interviewed Alex and Stephen Kendrick, co-writers of the movie’s storyline. Alex also plays the role of coach John Harrison, whose life changes overnight when his high school basketball team’s state championship dreams are crushed when the largest manufacturing plant in town shuts down, forcing hundreds of students to move away. Coach Harrison is forced to coach cross-country – a sport he does not like or know much about. The coach is haunted by fear and insecurity about his future while realizing he placed his identity and worth in his career.

I believe his story will resonate with many men watching the movie.

“If you ask most men who they are,” said Alex, “they will tell you what they do first. In other words, most men put the foundation of who they are as their occupation (…), but God says: ‘You find yourself in me first.’ You see, your job can change, your feelings can change, finances can change (…) But if my foundation is anchored in Jesus Christ — and he does not change — my foundation does not change.”

I also had the privilege of interviewing renowned Bible teacher and New York bestselling author Priscilla Shirer during the red carpet premiere of the movie. Shirer, whose acting debut in “War Room” rendered the accolades of many industry veterans, plays high school principal, Olivia Brooks. Olivia is a woman on a mission to help her students accomplish more than academic excellence, investing in the emotional and spiritual well-being of her students.

Shirer is well-known in Christian circles. Her Bible studies and bestselling books have reached thousands of women across the globe. When asked about the significance of the movie in today’s environment, she told me of her experience meeting women in later years of their lives, who realize that they have not followed their passion or God-given purpose. They often recognize that they made choices and decisions to please or impress someone; or based on the desire to be accepted and loved.

“Folks have chosen whole career paths (…) because they are trying to gain what (they do not realize) they already have. You are already accepted. You are already significant. You are already chosen,” says Priscilla, her voice filled with emotion.

Her words present a challenge in a society riveted by success and stardom. Indeed, with the ample influence of social media, we must be careful not to allow our friends’ apparent success to fuel the comparison monster, which thrives on feelings of inadequacy and insufficiency.

Shirer concluded with a powerful statement: “Once you believe that you are who God says you are, you start making decisions from a whole different place. And that literally can change the whole course of your life.”

You can watch both interviews on my blog, www.soaringwithHim.com. Find out more about “Overcomer” and locate a theater near you at www.overcomermovie.com.

Patricia Holbrook is a columnist, author, blogger, and international speaker. Visit her website, www.soaringwithHim.com. For speaking engagements and comments, email pholbrook@soaringwithHim.com