Answering God’s faith-building call
By Patrick Wood
Called to Hollywood? It wasn’t that I had a difficult time believing Dr. Stratton had, in fact, received such a command from the Lord. His ability to hear from God—an area I hoped to grow in myself as a young grad student—is what drew me to pursue a mentoring relationship with him in the first place. But why then? He was already over 40 years old at the time and had a family to think about. Not to mention that he was well reputed in his community as a man of integrity, wisdom, and knowledge in his work as an accomplished academic and spiritual leader. For years he’d been serving in Christian higher education as a university administrator, professor, and conference speaker.
So naturally, the news that he would be leaving this small Minnesota community for Los Angeles made for a surprise.
Gary, as he preferred to be called, was sipping an iced mocha while telling me about this strange westward call. Some years ago, during a time of prayer, he had sensed God’s own desire to impact the mainstream media and film industry with His light and love. At first, this seemed merely to be a burden of prayer—a responsibility that could of course be assumed anywhere. But as the experienced intercessor and his wife Sue spent more time listening to God, they were the first to be surprised. They were being prepared to impact Hollywood beyond the simplicity of praying from a distance.
What they heard that day went something like this: At a time the Lord would specify, Gary and Sue would be instructed to relocate from the snowy outskirts of Minneapolis to “the Hills” of Los Angeles for the express purpose of training “two-handed warriors”, as he called them—those who’d become salt and light in the mainstream media and arts. On the one hand, these individuals would become proficient in fostering faith and transforming lives for God’s kingdom. And with the other, they’d demonstrate excellence in acting, screenwriting, or various other aspects of film production—also to God’s glory. But while the Lord, the Invisible One, spoke to the Strattons, so did their visible circumstances.
How on earth would a Midwestern baby boomer, with a family of six and zero connections or credentials in this notoriously competitive industry, transition from a safe academic career? Gary didn’t pretend to know. Only God could forge a path through a sea like that. So until further notice, his work in the university, speaking engagements, and the demands of family life would have to be enough.
On that mysterious note, we finished our coffee and went our separate ways…