In the second installment of Adam McManus' interview with Kevin Downes for Faith of Our Fathers (out July 1), he continues his conversation with Kevin Downes and looks at other major players in the film. [You can check out Part I here.]
Stephen Baldwin portrays Mansfield, the tough, atheistic sergeant who supervises Eddie and Steven in Vietnam. In fact, he even belittles Steven’s Christian faith and orders him to stop preparing the other men for death by quoting Bible verses.
Twenty-five years later, Mansfield happens to be the officer on duty when Wayne holds up a gas station and John belatedly tries to intervene. Mansfield isn’t the same man who was hostile to the Gospel. Once he understands that he’s looking into the eyes of the adult sons of his former army buddies, he shares unapologetically about how God has changed his life.
“I never thought too much about God. I wanted what I wanted out of this life and pretty much got it on my own,” Mansfield says. “But I’ve learned that, at some point, each and every man figures out that there is a void deep down in their soul. There’s nothing in this world that can fill it. About ten years ago, I hit that point. My wife passed away and that deep void came. And I questioned God.”
“Everything in my life seemed like sand. And then the words of your Dad, John, came roarin’ back to me. I remember him saying, ‘It’s the foolish man who builds his castle on the sand and the wise man who builds it on the rock. I’ll never forget that. See, I’d heard about Jesus, but I didn’t know Him. It wasn’t until I began to understand all that that my life changed. Thank God!”
Downes developed a relationship with Stephen Baldwin during the filming of the movie Six, and knew he was an obvious choice for that role. “I recognized just how passionate he is about the Gospel. It was a role that meant a lot to him. I can’t wait to just hear him talk about it.”
Others added to the levels of deep meaning within the film. One bright, yet abbreviated, spot is the presence of Grammy and Dove Award-winning Christian singer, author, and actress Rebecca St. James, who plays an Australian hitchhiker traveling with her up-to-no-good cousin.
Another singer added depth to the story through his music. “Woke Up in America,” by contemporary Christian music artist Matt Maher, speaks to the core of the film. Interestingly, Maher, who has written and produced seven solo albums to date, is both Canadian and Catholic. Plus, this songwriter and worship leader, who now lives in Tempe, Arizona, performed Lord, I Need You before a crowd of nearly four million, including Pope Francis, for World Youth Day 2013 in Rio, Brazil.
Maher’s contribution to the soundtrack speaks to the very challenge of the film itself:
I woke up in America
For the love of God
I woke up in America
For something bigger than myself
More than fireworks and fanfare
More than the star spangled banner
You’re so beautiful America.
Faith of Our Fathers wants us to consider why we’re here and what God wants from our lives. It’s what Eddie and Stephen wrestle with, and we should, too.
Stay tuned for the third and final installment. Find out more at FaithofOurFathers.com. To go back and read Part I, click here.