A new documentary explores the role of faith and hope in overcoming life’s storms through the eyes of survivors of the devastating tornadoes in Moore, Okla., and Joplin, Mo.
“Where Was God? Stories of Hope After the Storm,” will premiere May 16 at the Moore Warren Theater in Moore. Showings will be available throughout the country via the documentary’s website at wherewasgod.com. Additional information on show times will be released at a later date.
“Our goal with this film is to showcase faith, hope and the ability to overcome after life’s storms – whether they be literal or figurative,” said Steven Earp, the film’s executive producer and lead pastor at Elevate Church in Oklahoma City.
“We want to remind people that God is always near, no matter what. There is not a single thing that we could ever go through that our heavenly Father does not understand, and there is not a single dark place that He has not already walked. We are so thankful to our cast for sharing their stories of courage, faith, change and hope to inspire others, and we hope that message resonates with those who see the film.”
Sam Porter, state director for Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief, makes an appearance in the documentary “Where Was God? Stories of Hope After the Storm.”
The documentary, directed, produced, edited and filmed in Oklahoma, follows the stories of survivors, parents, children, first responders and volunteers who share the devastating and miraculous events that changed their lives forever.
The Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, fellow churches and various faith-based groups and companies partnered with “Where Was God?” filmmakers in the making of the documentary.
“In May of 2013, Oklahoma was devastated by a series of massive tornadoes, which resulted in the loss of life,” Anthony Jordan, the Oklahoma convention’s executive director-treasurer, said. “We did not lose hope amid this tragedy, and God showed Himself faithful. The stories contained within this documentary, which the BGCO is helping fund and promote, show how God is always at work and how the gospel of Jesus Christ is ultimately the only safe shelter.”
Sam Porter, state director for Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief, makes an appearance in the film. He is featured giving his perspective of what happened last year in the aftermath of the Moore tornado.
“It is a gripping story,” said Porter after seeing a private screening of the documentary. “One of the cool things about the movie is it helps [viewers] see the Fatherhood of God, which makes it a great movie for men and men’s ministries. It is a movie that churches can recommend, take people to see. Individuals who have experienced loss in their lives will be impacted. I believe [the movie] can lead people to the Lord.”
Karen Marinelli, first grade teacher at Plaza Towers Elementary School, shares her experience protecting three little boys in her classroom. Marinelli’s tailbone was shattered as she used her body to protect her students.
“I literally just squeezed my eyes shut as tight as I could, and I buried myself on top of those kids,” Marinelli said. “The wall fell down and it was just so crushing of a feeling. I immediately thought we’re gone, we’re going to die. I just kept praying, please keep us safe – please help me to breathe. I continuously prayed that we would make it through and that the weight of the wall wouldn’t come down anymore.”
Kayla Carmona, a 15-year-old survivor of the 2011 tornado in Joplin, Mo., traveled to Moore with her mother to volunteer and minister to those impacted by the storm and has since moved to Moore to stay close to the connections she and her family made. Carmona lost her father and younger sister in the Joplin tornado. Her father held up the wall of the church where they took shelter to help others escape from the rubble.
“My dad was holding the building as much as he could with the strength he had,” Carmona said. “When he heard that everybody had gone out of the building, he took his last breath. But he didn’t forget to tell us that he loved us. To know that my dad would be proud of me is a great relief. It’s something that helps me to move forward. Whenever I help others, I feel like that’s something he would have done, and if that’s something he would have done, he must be proud.”
“Where Was God?” is a Behold Motion Pictures film in association with Elevate Faith Productions. The film was produced by Brian Cates and Chris Forbes and directed by Travis Palmer.
The film trailer can be viewed wherewasgod.com. Individuals who would like to host a screening of the film in their area can visit the website to request a showing.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – This story first ran March 31 in the Baptist Messenger, the newspaper of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.)