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Art Imitates Shari Rigby's Life in OCTOBER BABY
Art Imitates Shari Rigby's Life in OCTOBER BABY

Art Imitates Shari Rigby's Life in OCTOBER BABY

by Angela Walker - Contributing Writer

In 2008, Shari Rigby worked with Jon and Andrew Erwin on the Casting Crowns' video "Slow Fade" for the movie FIREPROOF. They had a mutual friend who made the connection, and predicted that Shari would be working with the brothers in the future. 

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She Looks Like You

She Is Me

Shari's Own Journey

Journey of Forgiveness

1 Out of 3

By Their Testimony

When the script for Jon and Andy's first feature film was complete, Jon called Shari and told her, "There's this part in the movie and we'd love to offer it to you. We really want you to read it first and tell us what you think. If you like it, it's yours."

She Looks Like You

"I said, 'That's great.' At that point, I didn't know what the storyline or the story was. He emailed me the script and when I got it, I printed the whole thing out. There was a picture of Rachel Hendrix [who plays Hannah, the lead character] on the cover, and when my husband saw it, he said, 'You know, that girl really looks like you.'

"We kind of laughed over it for a minute and then I sat down to read it. Then I realized I was reading something that paralleled my life 20-something years ago. I dove in reading it, and was just blown away."

The first thing Shari read was that before going on her journey, Hannah was working in a law firm. "Twenty years ago, I was a paralegal in a very prominent law firm in Arizona. And at that time in my life, I had gone through having an abortion. When I was reading it, I just knew it was ordained by God.

"As the film goes on, I have to explain to my husband what I've done, and the same thing happened with me and my husband. About six or seven years into our marriage, I was faced with having to go to him and tell him that I had had an abortion. It was so amazing to me."

She Is Me

Shari called Jon Erwin, crying and asking him how he knew. "I think I freaked him out as a young moviemaker. He was really blown away that they had offered that particular part to me. They offered it because we had worked together and because Rachel and I look so much alike. They had no idea I had a whole testimony about being that character myself.

"When Jon and Andy set out to make this film, I don't think they ever for a moment thought they would be addressing the post-abortive man and woman in this journey. I think God had something He wanted to address in this film. After this movie started being shown and after learning of my testimony, I think that's when they realized there's more to this message than the journey of surviving abortion and being adopted.

"For me, I was coming into it from a place where I needed to be very focused on this character. My screen time was very small, and I had to figure out how to take this woman on this journey in a very few scenes. God opened up this ocean for me. He showed me, 'this is the way it's going to look now' while I was preparing for the part. Then He met me on set, and now He's working on the other side of it, on the end of the journey."

Shari's Own Journey

What the Lord did for Shari was meet her at the well. "I was Hagar at the well [the mother of Ishmael]. I went in and sat with the script, thinking, 'How am I going to do this?' God started flooding and overwhelming me with this beautiful picture of a healing process that He was starting in that moment.

"He showed me this little girl I had aborted. It was a beautiful vision I will never forget as long as I live. I was so overwhelmed in this moment of being with Him and this little girl. That was the beginning. Then when I met Rachel as Hannah, God gave me this beautiful glimpse of what my little girl might have looked like if she had grown up. The next moment was when she leaves the note saying 'I forgive you.'

"As believers, we see that over and over again in the Bible, but to have it written out by this young woman, was completely different. What everyone sees onscreen at that moment is that God showed up for me. In that moment, it was just Him and me. It was the most amazing transformation ever. It's been such a healing process. He showed me, 'You're forgiven. It's done.'"

Journey of Forgiveness

Shari was a teenage mom at 17, and the second time she got pregnant, she got an abortion and felt like a failure. But at the age of 25, she re-dedicated her life to Christ and knew His forgiveness. "I knew that I was forgiven, but I hadn't really dealt with it in a way that let those emotions come up. 

"Even after the film and what I went through with the Lord, and surrendering the secret, has given me a whole new level of understanding what we need to walk through in order to deal with things as human beings and become whole. I'm hoping and praying that pastors will have more awareness as this film comes out. I know they do great studies on forgiveness, and I'm so thankful there are many wonderful churches that teach grace. But I don't know that they necessarily speak directly to women and men that need to emotionally understand and connect with what they did with an abortion in their past. They need to know how to move through that and forgive themselves."

But that requires an admission that there are women in our churches [and men who have supported them] who have had abortions. "There's a young woman I knew from years ago that called me up and was so excited about the film. She was excited about the opportunity to do the study [that goes with the film] in her church. She called me about a week later and told me her pastor had turned her down because no one in her church had had an abortion. She attends a very large church with thousands of members.

1 Out of 3

"The statistics that Planned Parenthood and other agencies put out say that 1 of every 3 women who profess to be Christians have had abortions. If you think about that in a congregation you're sitting in, most of them have had not only one, but two or three abortions."

That's a stunning statistic. "To me, one of the shocking statistics is that I'm one of 55 million women who have had abortions. That's huge. And that's only numbers they've been recording since abortion was legalized."

2013 is the 40th year of the Roe v. Wade decision, and Shari believes there are big things ahead for next year. "40 is a significant number in the Bible, and I believe there's something God is doing regarding that. It's shocking to me what I'm learning about abortion because of my involvement in this film.

"We're finding out that it's a generational sin. Women who are going through the Bible study are surrendering their secrets and going to their mothers to tell them they had an abortion 20 years ago. And their mothers are shocking them and telling them, 'So did I. I've had one too.' What I'm hearing so often is that the women and men are going through this healing but are terrified to speak with their children about it."

By Their Testimony

But it's at the point of telling their children that they experience fear and hesitation. "Revelation 12:11 says we overcome by our testimony, and by not telling our children, that's when the sin is perpetuated. We encourage men and women to tell their children, 'This was wrong, I did do this, and I've been forgiven for it.'

"I hope people will go home and talk with their kids. I hope they know they can, and need to, make a difference. My youngest boy is 12 and we've talked about it. One of the great things about the film is that I can talk with him about it, and he can also see how honorably Jason Burke treats Hannah in the movie."

OCTOBER BABY opens nationwide on March 23. Check your local listings for theater and time information.


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