Following God into the Deep: Calvary Chapel Elder Dives into the Film Industry
Story by Katie Bass
Photos courtesy of Stuart Migdon
How in the world do we do this? We have no experience. We’ve never done this before.
The cast and crew of Voiceless film the opening scene with a rain-making machine. The pro-life movie was filmed in the Kensington section of downtown Philadelphia, PA, an area known for poverty and crime—but also for Christian ministry. The award-winning film depicts the story of a young war veteran who decides to risk everything to take a stand against the abortion clinic across the street from his new job at a local church.
In 2012, Stuart Migdon and his good friend Pat Necerato had been asking God what He would have them do to best impact the culture for Christ. They had narrowed the options down to starting a homeschooling network or making a film. The first would be easier since they were already involved in that important movement.
Yet they intentionally chose to dive, head-first, into a field they knew nothing about—making a movie.
Stuart, an elder at Calvary Chapel Old Bridge (CCOB), NJ, recalled, “We came to the conclusion that that was exactly where God wanted us to be. If we couldn’t do it, He could do it and use us to do it.”
Calvary Chapel Old Bridge, NJ, elder Stuart Migdon and his friend Pat Necerato released Voiceless in 2016. The four-year process began in 2012 after the men felt God call them to make the movie to best impact the culture for Jesus Christ. Neither had any prior experience in movie making.
Four years later, their first feature film, Voiceless, was completed and in theaters (voicelessthemovie.com). The Northeast Film Festival award-winning movie tells the story of a young war veteran who decides to risk everything to take a stand against the abortion clinic just across the street from his new job at a local church.
And He [God] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Lead actor Rusty Joiner films a scene with Joe Hennigan, the movie’s director of photography. After the movie’s release, Stuart received many reports of women who gained the courage to speak of their past abortions, finally set free of the shame. Many churches and ministries contacted him about starting pro-life ministries in their fellowships.
For the Glory of God
Believing that God would receive the most glory by choosing the harder option, the next question was about the film’s subject. Stuart remembered, “We wanted to make a movie that would really glorify God and impact the culture for Christ. That was our goal. We … just kept coming back to abortion. We knew it would be one of the most difficult … and controversial topics [for] a movie. It would face opposition not only from Christians but also from non-Christians—how we do it, why we do it, and if we do it.” He continued, “We thought, Perfect! Because that’s where God is going to show up. In those difficulties, in those problems, that’s where God will shine through and show us that He can make this happen.”
They immediately started the long and arduous journey of making a feature film—from scratch and with no prior experience. Pat became the writer and director while Stuart was the producer, as well as executive producer and even an actor in the film. Two years later, the funding had come through, and it was time to begin filming. Another two years later, in 2016, Voiceless was completed.
Stuart (center), in a lighter moment, talks with Assistant Director Brandon Amelotte and other crew members. During filming, Stuart was led to ask CC Old Bridge Senior Pastor Lloyd Pulley if he could help start a pro-life ministry at the church. He wondered at the time how he could make a film in which the main character had to count the cost to help the unborn, while he was a part of a church that didn’t have its own pro-life ministry. The church now has a vibrant, compassionate pro-life ministry.
A Movie’s Impact
Stories from viewers affected by the film still make their way to Stuart’s desk to this day, he recounted. He joyfully recalled story after story of women who told him that upon hearing the story of one of the main characters in the film, they, for the first time, had the courage to speak of their past abortions. By bringing the past into the light, they were finally set free. Countless churches and ministries contacted him after viewing the film to say that they were now going to start pro-life ministries in their fellowships, or that it inspired them to keep moving forward in this ministry. One man felt compelled to ask for Stuart’s permission to show Voiceless in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, the very steps where so many abortion decisions have been passed down. Stories flooded in afterwards from those who watched the film that day.
But the impact of the film went much further—in his own life and the ministry of CCOB—than anyone expected.
Rusty Joiner talks with another actor, Jeremiah DeMoss, as they prepare for a scene.
Stuart has had a heart for the unborn since he came to know the Lord, but while on set, he became acutely aware of a dilemma: How could he make a film in which the main character had to count the cost to help the unborn, while he was a part of a church that didn’t have its own pro-life ministry?
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so. Proverbs 3:27
Stuart brought the issue before Lloyd Pulley, senior pastor of CC Old Bridge. He recounted the conversation. “Pastor Lloyd has all the faith and confidence in those the Lord raises up, and I knew he was going to say, ‘Go for it.’” But before sending Stuart out to begin the ministry, Lloyd warned him to be careful, cautioning that he didn’t want it to be marked by hateful speech, protests, etc. Stuart replied, “Lloyd, don’t worry. We’re going to start a pro-life ministry that glorifies God.”
Stuart listens to sound with Aaron Miller, the film’s sound coordinator.
Now, seven years later, CCOB’s pro-life ministry has grown and is an example for many Calvary Chapel ministries. It includes the multifaceted Bridge Women’s Center, which helps women receive free pregnancy testing and ultrasounds. It also provides programs to assist the mom: a medical insurance program, housing, counseling, jobs, educational assistance, and practical classes.
CCOB purchased their mobile medical unit, Hannah, which provides free pregnancy testing and ultrasounds to abortion-minded women. Running since 2020 and staffed by trained professionals, Hannah’s results have been stunning—207 babies have been saved and their parents often receive Jesus as their Savior. In addition, CCOB is in the process of purchasing another mobile medical unit. For more information, go to bridgewomenscenter.com. Find more stories about this Calvary Chapel ministry here.
Faithfulness in Difficulty
The impact of making Voiceless on his own life is perhaps the strongest. “The best story that I can tell is that I was faithful to carry forth what God put on my heart, even though [this] was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done in my life. … This is one of the most difficult professions to take on. I took one step at a time, every single day, faced the issues, difficulties, and challenges and said, ‘God can do this.’”
Stuart applied Luke 12:48b to his own story: For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more. “You know what, God has put this on my heart; He’s given me the resources and abilities to do this, and He requires it of me.”
As the film is still circulating (currently on Amazon Prime, Pure Flix, and other streaming services), God continues to bring healing, all while inspiring more and more to stand up and speak out on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves. Open your mouth for the speechless, in the cause of all who are appointed to die (Proverbs 31:8).
Stuart (left) talks with Rusty on location before filming a scene.
In the meantime, Stuart continues to create media, including a docuseries on racial tensions facing the U.S. “It will be 10% educational but 90% solution-driven,” Stuart shared. “A solution that is not divisive, not anti-traditional family … but a godly solution rather than one that is anti-God and anti-America.” He hopes to have the first episode released by the end of May 2022.
The fight scene in Voiceless, an important part of the film.
He is also currently working on his next feature film. Although the topic is still abortion, this film will differ dramatically from Voiceless. It will follow a true crime story from inside the abortion industry that has not been previously told. While Voiceless was geared more toward the church, this next film will be geared towards the general secular audience. Stuart explained his vision: “… We believe by making it a mainstream-type movie, we will really get into the hearts and minds of people who are pro-abortion or pro-choice without even really understanding why.”
Currently, the new film is still in the funding stage. “The hardest part of making a film is getting funding,” Stuart said. Yet he continues to pray and move forward waiting on God’s perfect timing. Those who feel led to donate or invest to help make this possible can visit Stuart’s website at rawayentertainment.com or email him directly at email@example.com.
The director of photography films an actress portraying a reporter after the fight scene.
All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.
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