We chatted to Reverend Michael Spurlock, about the upcoming film All Saints, based upon part of his time as Vicar of All Saints Episcopal Church in Smyrna, Tennessee. We chatted about how he became a Christian and what lead him to lead a Church, as well as his thoughts about the film.
How did you become a Christian?
Over a long period of time. My family is Christian, but it never “took” with me until I was grown. I went through long seasons of fear, doubt, questioning, rejection, tepid acceptance. But then I was converted to Jesus Christ by attending a bible study on the parables of Jesus, but more importantly, somewhere in the middle of reading the gospel of John on my own. I was awakened to a truth that this man I was reading about was who I had been searching for my whole life.
What made you decide to lead a Church?
That was not a decision I made all on my own, and that was not even my first consideration. Having met the living Christ, in time I had a desire to give him as much of my life as was humanly possible for me to do, and for me that meant serving him within my church. That’s what lead me to seminary, then ordination, then being assigned to lead All Saints, my first parish in Tennessee.
How did you feel when you knew you were positioned at All Saints to close it down?
The decision to sell the church came very soon after my arrival at All Saints because we couldn’t see any alternative. The church was sparsely attended, heavily indebted, and we didn’t feel it could grow fast enough to outpace the inevitable financial predicament it was facing. It was not an easy decision to come to, but did seem to be the only way forward.
How did meeting the Karen change your life?
It changed my life in more ways than I can possibly tell. However, one way it changed my life was that it made me a funny kind of foreign missionary. I was the pastor of a small church in semi-rural Tennessee, but foreign mission to a people who came to us from the other side of the world came right into our own sanctuary. It has opened my eyes to the fact that countless people from all nations are in our midst at all times. That’s an awesome and largely untapped mission field all around us.
And how was your faith challenged and deepened?
God told me to start a farm on our church’s property. I feared people would think I was crazy or desperate to not have to sell the church for my own personal reasons. It was intimidating to me to tell those in authority over me that I had a revelation from God and we ought to consider changing our plans for the church. My faith in God deepened because once he spoke, I witnessed him clear the way to making his purposes possible. Every time I feared a negative reaction or saw a dearth of resources, God provided encouragement through other people, and provided for us materially, often in miraculous ways.
How does it feel to see this story on the big screen?
It’s exciting to see how the story of the Karen and their dangerous plight in their own country, and their remarkable journey in ours continues to reach a larger and larger audience. This is a story worth every effort to tell, and I am grateful to the people who have devoted the past seven years and considerable financial resources to telling it.
What advice can you give to people who are wondering if they are following God’s will?
Discernment is critical. Scripture tells us to test the spirits because not everyone is from God. When I am faced with that dilemma, I often pray that God give me a right judgment in things. And then I trust in another thing that Jesus said, good fruit doesn’t come off an evil tree.
What one thing do you hope the audience will take away?
It’s sad to say, but it seems that the broader culture, and even Christian culture, only ever wonders about God’s presence in the world when bad things happen. We ask, “Where is God? Why didn’t he do something?” My experiences at All Saints, and in so many other aspects of my life, have shown me that God is alive and well and at work in his world all the time, thought the good and the bad. Once eyes get open to that truth and living reality, you can never close them to God’s presence again, at least not convincingly.
All Saints will be released in US theatres on August 25th 2017 – Click here to read more about the film.