Sharing the extraordinary true story of one family's love and loss, and the triumphant struggle to move forward after tragedy, OBU will host a screening of the movie "Heaven's Rain" on Tuesday, Feb. 15, at 7 p.m. in Raley Chapel's Potter Auditorium. Movie tickets are free with a valid OBU ID, and community guest tickets are $5 each at the door.
The movie is being shown as part of OBU's annual "Focus Week," dedicated to helping members of the OBU community strengthen relationships. This year's Focus Week theme is "Building Strong Relationships through Faith, Hope, Love and Forgiveness."
Brooks Douglass and Leslie Douglass, the brother and sister whose life story is the basis for the film, will be present at the showing and participate in a panel discussion following the movie. The panel also will include Dr. Brian Camp, professor of family science; Dr. Louima Lilite, assistant professor of music; Dr. Scott Pace, Jewell and Joe L. Huitt assistant professor of applied ministry; and Dr. Nicole Warehime, assistant professor of sociology.
Based on true events, the story behind "Heaven's Rain" was the subject of a recent two-hour NBC "Dateline" special, and tells of Brooks Douglass, who, along with his sister, survived an unthinkable attack that claimed the lives of their missionary parents 30 years ago. The children -- then ages 12 and 16 -- captured the hearts of America, as they struggled to find justice and rebuild their lives. But after their story fell off the front pages, the drama continued in courtrooms, hospitals, the legislature and more. Time and again, forced to relive the incident in order to keep the killers in prison, the youngsters grew into adults with heavy baggage. Through courage and faith, they eventually found the road to forgiveness.
"I had the opportunity to visit with Brooks Douglas during the fall of 2010," said Dale Griffin, dean of spiritual life. "I was so moved by his story and his vision for how the movie can encourage people toward the transforming power of forgiveness.
"I was a freshman with Brooks Douglas in the Fall of 1980," Griffin said. "I remember seeing his smiling face and recognized him almost immediately when I saw him again at OBU in the fall of 2010. Little did I know that as a freshman Brooks had been through the trauma of losing his parents only months before, barely surviving himself. Nor did I know the pain and confusion he must have been feeling as he dealt with the trauma his sister had endured."
"Heaven's Rain" is written and produced by Douglass, who went on to become the youngest state senator in Oklahoma history and a champion of victims' rights.
"Ultimately, the message of forgiveness and being able to overcome, the fact that we all make choices every day, is a story I thought needed telling," he said.
Directed and co-written by Hollywood veteran Paul Brown, "Heaven's Rain" features Mike Vogel ("Cloverfield," "Miami Medical") as Brooks and Taryn Manning ("Hawaii Five-O") as Leslie. In his film debut, Douglass plays his father, Richard. The movie also stars Erin Chambers ("General Hospital"), along with Marilyn McIntyre, Megan Paul, Kelly Curran, Silas Weir Mitchell, Nicholas Braico and Taylor Pigeon.
The movie is rated R for some disturbing violent content.
"The film 'Heaven's Rain' is a well made film presenting the challenges faced by the family in carefully thought-through ways," Griffin said. "The film is not given to sensationalism. I asked Brooks, 'Why the R rating?' He said the rating came from a scene where the character portraying Leslie responds to an interviewer in the heart of the film. Her comments, although not graphic, depict the trauma she experienced in a well thought-through manner. For her comments, the film received the rating. I have seen the film and can understand why Brooks chose to keep the scene in the film."
While never shying from the hard facts, "Heaven's Rain" ultimately is a tribute to the love and faith of Brooks' parents. The Sunday before the tragedy, in fact, Richard Douglass preached on forgiveness. In a dramatization of that moment in the film, Brooks himself, playing his father, quotes the Book of Matthew: "He sends the rain on the just and the unjust," and William Shakespeare: "The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven."
"Heaven's Rain" has been described as a bold, Christian film which vividly brings to life the truth that God's grace triumphs over injustice, tragedy and loss.
"Brooks suggested a showing of the film on our campus for several reasons," Griffin said. "One, he attended OBU and the university is part of his own story. Brooks will be on the panel to share personally following the film. Second, Brooks' service as an Oklahoma state representative, and his life as a missionary kid and a preacher's kid, ties him to our state and convention. Third, the message of forgiveness is powerfully portrayed. And, I want to add, the film is well made without being gratuitous."
For more information about "Heaven's Rain," click here. Through the website, interested viewers can request the movie be shown in their community.