Christian actor and filmmaker Kevin Downes urged Kings County residents Thursday to find their purpose in life and realize it to its full potential.
“I believe that God puts each and every one of us here for a specific purpose and reason,” Downes said. “Certainly, back in 1994, God showed me what my purpose was, and that was to make films that glorify Him and glorify His name to people around the world.”
Hundreds of residents gathered at the Hanford Civic Auditorium for the Kings Prayer Force’s 16th annual observance of the National Day of Prayer.
Downes, who was born in Hanford and raised in Visalia, has worked on more than a dozen Christian films including “Faith of Our Fathers,” “Courageous,” “The Moment After” and “Mercy Streets.”
One of his first films, Downes said, was born out of a goal to make films with his friend and co-producer David White that would glorify God. The duo knew little about how to write, produce or distribute a movie.
“We got together and we said, ‘We should write a script, but first we should pray that God will actually give us the wisdom to write a script,’” Downes said. “And we did that every single day.”
The finished product was “The Moment After,” which was completed for just $80,000. Downes said he realized the power of the film’s message after the dialogue inspired a crew member to change his life. Since its completion in 1998, it has been shown in more than 70 countries, he said.
Downes said he and White later dreamed that major Hollywood film studios would someday make and distribute Christian films.
“It was a bit of a pipe dream back in the ’90s,” Downes said. “Yet, today you see Christian films dominating the box office.”
His most recent film, “Woodlawn,” tells the story of an Alabama high school football team in 1973 that is inspired by Christian teachings amid lingering racial tensions. Downes said the movie cost $13 million to produce and another $12 million to market, making it one of the most expensive independent Christian films since Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ.”
Downes said former Kings County Sheriff Chris Jordan asked him prior to his speech Thursday why he decided to work in the entertainment industry.
“I think God has a sense of humor,” Downes said. “Why would a quiet kid from a sleepy farm community, who was terrified of audiences and literally made up stories to get out of going to high school dances, want to all of a sudden be called into a ministry that reaches worldwide — to talk in front of crowds and preach the gospel to nations all over the world?
“That can only be through God.”
Thursday’s ceremony also included prayers for government and military; media and businesses; and education, churches and families.