DeVon Franklin Talks Miracles From Heaven, Church Hurt & Why He Had To Check The Woman Who Came For Meagan
DeVon Franklin proved himself to be husband extraordinaire last month when he came to his wife, Meagan Good’s, defense. But during the day, he’s also an author, preacher, motivational speaker and film producer. With the box office smash, “Heaven Is For Real”, under his belt, Franklin is producing another faith-based film, “Miracles From Heaven.” This one is about the incredible, true story of a little girl being healed from an incurable illness through a strange accident. In our exclusive interview with Franklin, he talked about what drew him to this project, dealing with church hurt, the discussion about his wife’s attire and working while waiting on God.
How did you first come across the Beam story and what were your first impressions?
I came across the story about the Beam family right when the story was being sold to the book publisher. And when I read it, first of all, it moved me. It’s a very, very powerful story. When you have the “normal life,” everything is going well and then something happens. And that came in the form of their middle daughter getting sick. And you don’t know where it came from or why. And then the details of the pain and the challenges they faced, not only to make ends meet, but to figure out how to live a normal life while treating a sick kid.
And then the mom (Christy Beam, played by Jennifer Garner) being the champion for her daughter’s healing. All of these things really spoke to me and moved me personally. I’m the middle child of three boys, raised by a single mom. And so reading this story, in its very early stages, reminded me of the sacrifices my own mother made for me to do what I’m doing today. So, for all of those reasons I thought it was going to make for, hopefully, a good movie.
How did Queen Latifah become involved with the project?
I worked with Queen Latifah…my first studio job, back at MGM, about 12 years ago, one of the first movies I worked on was Beauty Shop. So, I’ve known her and her manager Shakim since then. And Shakim has been like a mentor and a friend. So when this opportunity came about, I just called him up and I said, ‘There’s a role. I don’t know if she’d ever want to do it but I think she’d be great.’ I think she really connected to not only the character, but the story. And the idea of being able to put something positive out there and be a part of a story that’s so family affirming, faith affirming and life affirming. I think those things really spoke to her.
Is Queen Latifah’s character based on a real person?
She sure is. There is a real Angela, except that she’s White. She is from Boston. From what Christy tells me, she smokes like a chain smoker and curses like a sailor but has a heart of gold. It was kind of funny because, given that character is based on a real person, we were a little trepidatious like, ‘Oh, are they going to be cool…’ So I remember calling Christy and I was like, ‘Heey, here’s the good news, we found somebody to play Angela.’ And she said, ‘Great.’ And I said ‘Here’s the other part of that good news, it’s Queen Latifah.’ And she was like, ‘Oh, that’s awesome!’ And she said, ‘Let me tell the real Angela.’ And so she called up the real Angela and told her and the real Angela said, ‘That’s amazing! Queen Latifah would be the perfect me!’ So it was really cool to be able to cast her and knowing that she really embodied the larger than life and heart of gold that the real Angela had.
In the movie, Christy leaves the church after people say some hurtful things to her. What really is the best way to handle people who say nasty things in church?
I think the best way to handle it is, first of all in love and understanding. The saying has been that ‘hurt people, hurt people.’ And the church is very much an emergency room. So, when you go to an emergency room, the idea that people are there and they are sick, doesn’t surprise you. And it also shouldn’t surprise us in the church. It is a place where the wounded come for refuge. And sometimes while they are healing, they can wound others. So I think it’s important to know that. And I think it’s also important to know ok, don’t allow the negativity of the church to keep you away from it. When I go to church, I’m there to get a word, I’m there to experience God, I’m there to worship. And I do my best to not allow other distractions, other people to stop me from doing that because that’s what I want to do and it’s valuable to my life.
And I think sometimes the reason why we get hurt so much in church is because it’s relative to what we expected to happen. And so many times people do view church as a safe place. And in some regards, it is. But there are also people there that have not yet matured in the Lord and do things that can be very detrimental, if you allow it, to your spiritual growth. So anytime I have ever gone through it myself or tried to help someone else, I try to get them to look at the bigger picture, that it’s about God. It’s about the practice of going to church because it helps you in your life. And don’t allow people to stop you from doing the things that you need to do to survive day to day. Which is having a community of people that you can find that can help you worship.
Because going to church, Hebrews 10:25, don’t forsake the assembling of yourselves because it’s important. It matters. It helps. I’ve been in Hollywood for a very long time and I still go to church because I enjoy it. It’s a really big part of my spiritual growth. [People saying mean things in the church is] definitely not an easy thing to deal with especially when you’re hurt. When you get hurt by someone you didn’t expect to get hurt by, that’s painful. I think that Christy’s response to it in the movie is very authentic. Because when you do get hurt, the first thing you say, ‘I’m not going to that hospital ever again.’ But I love the restoration that she experiences at the end of it. Because she was able to forgive, she was able to understand that maybe that person said what they said from a place that even they regret it, in hindsight. And because she had experienced God in such a miraculous way, that maybe one of the benefits of that was that she could offer forgiveness in a way that maybe she couldn’t have otherwise. So I love that in the real story, the real Chirsty was able to forgive and not to harbor any resentment or harbor any pain as it related to how that person in the church spoke to her.