On-Screen Inspiration

by Dan Rupple

Black Panther

One of 2018’s biggest-box office hits was the Marvel film Black Panther. This superhero fantasy film tells the story of T’Challa, heir to the hidden, but advanced kingdom of Wakanda. T’Challa must step forward to lead his people into a new future and must confront a challenger from his country’s past. Reluctant to be passive when division threatens his people, he makes a declaration:

“Wakanda will no longer watch from the shadows. We cannot. We must not. We will work to be an example of how we, as brothers and sisters on this earth, should treat each other. Now, more than ever, the illusions of division threaten our very existence. We all know the truth: more connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another, as if we were one single tribe.”

As Christians we are implored to be peacemakers, seek unity, and reflect the character of the God who reconciles mankind to Himself.

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Eph. 4:1-3)

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other as the Lord has forgiven you; so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.“(Col. 3:12-14)

Off-Camera with Austin Peck and Terri Conn Peck

Terri Conn Peck is an Emmy-nominated actress, QVC producer, and host. Catch Terri in Rich Christiano’s latest film, Play the Flute, in theaters this fall. Austin Peck is an established actor with over 1,500 hours of network television to his credit (Days of Our Lives, As the World Turns, One Life to Live), as well as a writer and producer. 

DAN: How did the two of you meet and were you both Christians when you met?

AUSTIN: We originally met at a charity function in New York.

 TERRI: Austin was a believer. I had grown up in the Episcopal Church, but it was meeting Austin and being introduced to the Spirit-filled church that took my spiritual journey straight to a relationship with the one true God. I had questions . . . LOTS of questions. It was Austin who answered those questions in a way I could understand and apply to what was going on in my life.

DAN: Why acting? What drew you to this career path?

AUSTIN: I grew up in L.A., my mother was an actress, and my stepfather a talent agent.  I wasn’t exactly sure what my future held. I didn’t focus much on school and thought I was just going to enter into the military. But one day I was approached on the street by talent agents and asked if I’d be into acting/modeling. I was like, “Duh, yeah, ok . . . ” I just thought as an actor I can be anything. I can be in the military, be a pilot, be a lawyer, be anything.

TERRI: I grew up as an only child and military brat, so I was alone a lot. I had a very active imagination and loved writing and acting out my own stories—usually playing all the roles! I had a burning desire to make an audience feel and think and maybe even change, in the same way films and television did that for me.

DAN: Jesus said, “You are the light of the world,” calling Christians to be present in every community and industry. What role do you think actors in general, and specifically you as believers, play in the broader culture?

AUSTIN: I think actors can play a very powerful role. What actors do can touch the heart, reveal humanity, and shine light on truth. Actors’ sensibilities can be used for good and evil. Good in the sense of showing and revealing truth to help people move toward the light. Encouraging people to seek righteousness rather than darkness. Unfortunately, in today’s world we get the latter the majority of the time.

DAN: As you mentioned, Terri, you both have had roles in daytime serials (“soaps”). The storylines are often filled with conniving, cheating, scheming, etc. As Christian believers, how do you approach a role or scene where your character’s values are contrary to your own?

TERRI: Soaps, and even sit-coms, used to be morality plays. The bad guy got caught in the end and good prevailed. The audience learned something about “what not to do” by watching what can happen when you let evil take over. It seems, though, that it isn’t the case anymore.  Evil is explained away and often glorified, and I cannot participate in that.

DAN: I appreciate you both so much. How can the Mastermedia community pray for you and your family?

AUSTIN: That I would be who God wants me to be.

TERRI: Thank you, Dan, for providing this ministry to all of us!  We are so honored and grateful to be a small part of it! I would like to ask for protection for Austin, me, and our family. My manager, Michael Van Dyke, said that to go into the enemy’s territory with the intention of glorifying God is putting a big target on yourself for the enemy. We must be in constant prayer for the Lord’s protection. So I ask for prayers of protection for the Peck family and for all of us who are boldly declaring Jesus in Hollywood.

Impacting the Age of Unbelief

“God put you and I here (and now) for a reason. This is a great time to be a Christian. Not an easy time—but an exciting one.

“I know it doesn’t look that way. When I think about our cultural moment, I can’t help but see parallels with Christopher Nolan’s sinister Batman universe—a society plagued by fear, a society where the line between good and evil has faded, a society marked by skepticism and cynicism, a society with very little hope.

“It’s what the cultural commentator Mark Sayers calls a ‘non-place’—a culture with no sense of true and meaningful morals, relationships, or identity. But God’s people are called to live by faith, not by sight. And our faith tells us that none of this is an accident. Our God is greater than us, and our God is greater than any cultural norm or pressure. Our God has this.”

These compelling words from Matt Chandler, lead pastor of teaching at the Village Church and President of Acts 29 Network, offer hope in a confusing age and challenge us to embrace the profound spiritual truths he expresses here:

“When we learn to look up more than we look within or look around—so that we put our hope and trust in God—we’re unleashed to be bold in and for Him. We move beyond seeking to convert the culture, condemn the culture, or consume the culture. We walk with courage—with a deep, optimistic confidence—for we know how this story ends and we know why we are in this story.

“As His people, we get to show our great God to this dark world in how we live and what we say. That’s exciting. And God put you—yes, you—here to do just that. It’s no mistake that we’ve entered the age of unbelief—it’s all part of God’s plan.

“He gave today’s church, in this age of unbelief, you and me. That’s our calling. That’s our privilege. That’s our responsibility.”

What an inspiring and liberating realization! As Christians—and as media professionals who deeply impact the culture—it is a privilege, a gift from God, and a solemn responsibility to live in the age of unbelief.

Excerpts from Hope for Such a Time as This by Matt Chandler, Relevant Magazine, July/August 2018