Jesus Revolution | My Testimony


Less than ten seconds in my mother's mother's home taught you how much she loved God. Crosses, Bible verses -- the walls were testimony to her lifelong walk with faith. When she could no longer leave her home to attend the weekly church service, the vicar would come and deliver the sermon to her. You might hear this and think: "another child subject to blind faith from a young age", but that was not the case. The service was solely for my nan and great aunt. The children (me and my older sister and brother) would play upstairs until the vicar left, and while my nan and great aunt would speak of their faith, it was never something I felt I had to carry with me in my own life.

Of course, when you see something in your youth, you do carry it with you for life. I always believed God was real, but, I never knew what that meant. If I was asked about my religion, I would say I was Catholic because my family were Irish, and the two felt synonymous. So to say I have always had some form of religion would be accurate, but to say I have always had faith would be a complete lie. 

Yesterday morning, I saw Jesus Revolution. I'd scrolled past it multiple times in the AMC app over the last couple of weeks, thinking: "I'll get to it". I'd seen the non-existent conversation around it online, one or two tweets from friends, but nothing singing its praises. Not that I expected to. Putting "Jesus" in a film's title is revolutionary in itself, let alone its added addendum of literal Revolution. My husband was the one who got me out of the house to see it. We sat alongside two other couples inside the screen, and as soon as the film rolled, I had the film pegged. The warm aesthetic, the "Christian" font (don't ask, if you know, you know). It was going to be one of those films. But, as it went on, I slowly stopped scrutinising everything I expected a non-believer to call manipulative, and I sunk into tears. 

I cry in movies all the time. I do it so often that I always say that if a film does not make me cry, it is not doing its job. I'm easy to get. But these were not the tears that any and every film win from me. No, these were "Jesus tears". Stay with me, please. If you've stepped inside a church or been overwhelmed by the fever of Jesus Music, then you'll know those tears. The ones that feel like you weren't even aware of it until the tears were on your face and the overwhelming peace has overcome you. The type of cry that affirms that you'll be okay, even if you don't believe it in your own mind. Some higher power knows, even if you do not. 

To divert momentarily from the film, my walk with faith began when I was 20 years old. I had just left home to go to film school and was living alone in Wembley, West London. The season of life that led to this moment was filled with depression, anxiety, and inexplainable panic that overwhelmed me so much some days that I struggled to be around others or leave my room even to eat. To feel somewhat back on track in life was affirming. I cannot remember precisely how I came back to faith. It's blurry. I had been leaning into it for a while before I felt it. I remember watching a YouTuber called Kristin Johns share her testimony. She spoke about her journey with coming to faith, and it involved anxiety, something still plaguing my day-to-day despite a fresh new beginning at film school. I had never imagined a life to be possible where it wouldn't impact me in some way, and so I began to accept that while most days may feel bright, many of those would be clouded with anxiety. 

I have never shared my testimony with anyone because it is not miraculous and also because it sounds:

1. Ridiculous

2. Unbelievably dismissive of an issue that so many people struggle with

If you've ever walked a day with anxiety, you know nothing is more infuriating than someone looking at you with the belief that a simple prayer can take all your struggle away; but for me, it did. Just like Kristin Johns shared in her video, I prayed, and the next day and for many days (and years) beyond that, I lived anxiety free. I told you, it sounds ridiculous. But that is my coming-to-Jesus story. My coming-to-testimony is simply a coming-to-testimony. I did not become the perfect Christian (does such a thing even exist?) overnight. I believed. I felt it. I could say with plenty of certainties that Jesus and God are real, but I didn't walk in faith every day.

See, like Chuck Smith in Jesus Revolution, knowing God was not exactly knowing God. I came to Jesus once again during the pandemic. I've never gone to a weekly service in a church, but I was at online church every Sunday throughout 2020 and most of 2021. It was transformative. It doesn't work for everyone, but it did for me. It healed so much inside of me that'd been broken for years. It allowed me to love myself and also others with no conditions. 

Then I moved to New York. 

It feels unfair to speak ill of an experience filled with so many joyful moments and one that, externally, looks like a dream come true, but give me the grace for a moment or two. I didn't know how much peace was inside me until I left London. I ached every day throughout 2020 for something more, but deep down, I had an unshakeable inner peace. I didn't realise that, though, until it was all taken from me. New York City is a gift. It's a beautiful city. It is filled with so much beauty that I could write tens of books on everything I love about it and everything it means to me, but it is not always kind. I know this because of how little anger I had in my life until I moved here. That is not a comment on the city. It is a comment on me. It is a comment on life. It's a comment on how much hate floods the world daily and how much that can flood us if we are not careful.

For me, what I love most about faith and about my experience of online church is the complete lack of judgement. I know this is the antithesis of many people's experience, so I feel grateful that I found somewhere that felt like its methods of preaching were for everyone. The service always began with "Welcome Home" and ended with the affirmation that you could "come as you are" and that Jesus passed no judgement no matter who you were or what you had experienced in life. They also didn't feel like empty sentiments. They felt like real commitments that the congregation were making daily. I saw that reflected in the core of Jesus Revolution, and it reminded me of the church I had drifted from since moving across an ocean and away from my roots. The message at the film's core is that there is no room for hate in faith, and while it feels like so many of the world's ills stem from religion built on a foundation of fear, Jesus Revolution rebukes those methods subtly. 

I was surprised to see it hit a 99% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, and it is climbing at the box office, reaping $30 million so far. I cannot hide how much I love that a film titled Jesus Revolution is having so much commercial success. No one in the story is perfect. They are not guidebooks for living or idols to aspire to. They all have flaws. They all deal with sin, but they are all afforded grace. Films are always at their best when they lean into the fact that we can be flawed but loved. 

So, seeing Jesus Revolution felt like another coming-to-Jesus moment for me. Anxiety and depression had slowly crept up on me until they overwhelmed me in August 2022, when I threw faith out the window. I decided no God would allow me to be in so much emotional pain and that, if He was real, I didn't want to serve him anyway for how wrong he had done me. I'd been avoiding faith ever since. I slowly managed to deem myself worthy of pursuing life again, but this time it was with estranged faith. I had fractured the relationship. Somehow "come as you are" felt true for everyone but me. It's been a lonely ride. Depression and anxiety came for me again just weeks ago. I spent a week in bed. I didn't speak to anyone. I had thoughts I hadn't thought since 2015. It was worse than August, something I didn't believe possible. Every day felt impossible. Every breath felt impossible. 

But here I am. Writing this piece. Cured? No. But finally leaning into faith again thanks to the unabashed, unshakeable Jesus Revolution that Jon Erwin and Brent McCorkle poured into their film. 

Easter is my favourite holiday. It's about new life. It's about everything we want to be as humans; graceful, compassionate, and kind. Even when Jesus was being executed, he looked to God and said, "'Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing" - Luke 23:24. Whether you believe in God or not, I know everyone wants to possess that level of grace that even in moments of persecution we can speak love over the people that hurt us. We are just four weeks away from the foundation of what so many churches preach; "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." - John 3:16 

I didn't realise until now that this piece was approaching 1700 words, so I'll stop here, but all of this to say: thank you for Jesus Revolution. Thank you for bringing me back to the pursuit of inner peace. I hope it brings others back, too. I hope others know they are not alone. 

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