Skip to comments.‘I Can Only Imagine:’ Pastor’s son stars in Christian film
Posted on 03/15/2018 9:01:05 PM PDT by fungoking
In 2008, John Michael Finley a student at the prestigious performing arts school at Roosevelt University came home to Lebanon after his spring semester only to hear bad news.
His father told him that Roosevelt University was simply too expensive, and hed need to finish his college education elsewhere. This news didnt necessarily bode well for his aspirations as an actor, yet Finley took it in stride.
But only a few weeks later, he and his family were shaken by tragedy. On May 31, 2008, Finleys 21-year-old brother, Army Specialist James M. Finley, was killed in Jalalabad City, Afghanistan, in the line of duty.
Now, 10 years after his brothers death, Finleys acting career looks bright. The 29-year-old has already performed on Broadway. And on March 16, he makes his professional acting debut on film as the lead role in I Can Only Imagine, released by Erwin Brothers Entertainment the Christian filmmakers who produced Woodlawn (2015) and Moms Night Out (2014). Also starring such notables as Dennis Quaid (Frequency, The Rookie, The Parent Trap) and Priscilla Shirer (War Room), this film is based on the life story of Mercy Me lead singer Bart Millard, who wrote the award-winning Christian song, I Can Only Imagine, after the death of his father to cancer.
Finleys own mother, Betsy, died last February as the movies filming was coming to a close, and producers gave his family permission to debut Finleys performance of the song, I Can Only Imagine, during her funeral service.
His father, Wayne, who serves as pastor of administration at Heritage Baptist Church here, said church members and Lebanon residents are eager for the movies release date.
Its exciting, Wayne said. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to believe thats him. Its kind of surreal that hes playing that role. But Wayne also believes that Gods hand, working amid tragedy, opened the way for his son to perform in this movie.
In May 2008, he recalled, I told John when he came home from Roosevelt that there was just no way that we could keep him there. But then, two weeks later, James was killed in Afghanistan. He didnt have a wife or kids. So we received his life insurance benefits. So, basically, that enabled us to keep John at Roosevelt to finish his degree there in theater.
Had tragedy not hit his family, Finley may never have finished at Roosevelt, performed on Broadway, or even auditioned for I Can Only Imagine, Wayne said. Its a debt of gratitude that Finley himself has noted on theater playbills: For my brother, SPC James Matthew Finley. Without him, I would not be here.
The star, J. Michael Finley (John) grew up in my town, I coached him in summer baseball and Jr High football, and his family still lives here.
I also remember his older brother James, who was killed by an IED in Afghanistan. The family used his brother's life insurance to pay for John's college.
For all the junk put out by Hollywood, this movie is worth going to see.
Im praying that everyones lives are affected who see this film and that all involved in making it, are blessed.
We all know that the lives of believers arent without strife or tragedy, as in James life but those who are lost may come to know Jesus Christ by watching the lives of believers as they live and continue to believe because of our Savior.
I think back to my years in the military, and the many servicemen killed in traffic accidents.
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