I never intended to do a documentary. It wasn’t even on the radar. I never thought my story merited that kind of publicity. It’s a good story. I’d even characterize it as a miracle story. As such, I am eternally grateful for God’s work in it and through it. My personal transformation led to a 40-year run in pastoral ministry. A black sheep turned pastor; it doesn’t get more dramatic than that. That said, it never occurred to me to share the story more broadly, until I met the good people at David’s Harp Foundation.
When I heard about this group out of southern California, I felt drawn to work with them. They are passionate about helping homeless and formerly incarcerated youth get off the streets and out of gangs by giving them a set of skills (with personal accountability) to build a more productive and self-sustaining life. They are mentored by accomplished professionals in the areas of video, audio, and multimedia editing. Once I met the leaders, I knew I had to find an excuse to work with them. We brainstormed possibilities and within weeks I went to San Diego to shoot a short film. Eight students worked on this unplanned documentary and a 23-year-old man, just off parole, served as the lead.
What made this experience so serendipitous was not just that it gave me a chance to support the work of a great foundation, in addition, by hearing and filming my story these young people were given fresh hope about their own. Instead of seeing their black sheep status as a negative, they could see their life in a more redemptive way. They were able to embrace the prospect of becoming black sheep messengers themselves – rebels for good! They have their own message. In fact, they are the message. Their experiences and pains have made them strong. Their willingness to bear the burden of personal change makes them unheralded heroes. I honor them! That is what makes me so excited about sharing this piece. I get to brag on God’s merciful work in me, and at the same time, their amazing stories are amplified as well!
Piet Van Waarde
Black Sheep Messenger