Steps of Faith: Following God in the Face of Criticism

Faith Houston (Chrystee Pharris) knows that God is calling her to move away from her friends, family, and job to volunteer at a hippotherapy farm where children find healing through working with horses. The problems are abundant: Houston is terrible with children as evident in the opening scene, she doesn’t like animals, and she’s possibly the only one who believes God is calling her in Steps of Faith.

The film nurtures the dissonance between Houston and her family, setting up the way that most folks in her circle can’t believe that someone who irregularly goes to church would hear God. [Thankfully, there’s a kind, older pastor who seems like everyone’s favorite grandpa who gives her a few words of wisdom and sets herself up with a pastoral authority in the Texas area she’s moving to as she leaves her home.] Houston’s sister may be the only one who comes to believe that Faith has heard something she should follow, and seems impressed by her conviction. It’s a stark reminder that even religious folks tend to be critical of others who ‘hear’ differently than they do!

Houston shows up in Texas, announces that God told her to move there, and immediately finds herself on the outside looking in. Steps of Faith Farm owner Bell Wilcoxs (Gail Cronauer) says she’s not hiring, and Houston doesn’t even know the first thing about hippotherapy. That connection her pastor initially proposed? He’s Pastor Michael Olson (Christian Heep), a white guy Houston didn’t expect, and he’s the first person not to treat Houston like she’s crazy. 

While Houston is trying to break into Steps of Faith to fulfill what she heard God call her to, she finds herself acclimating to life at Olson’s church, putting her gifts to work. She’s making friends with Charles Malik Whitfield’s Marshall Lee, a Steps of Faith employee, figuring out that she may have finally met her life partner. It’s just one more fish-out-of-water moment in the film, that draws on Houston’s need to follow God, get away from the distractions, and discover who she really is. 

Along the way, Houston’s trajectory follows some normal ups and downs, with a reasonably typical story arc: pursuit of the goal, initial struggle, then success, abject failure, and finally, resolution. While the film is itself pretty straightforward, it’s solid in the Christian market to see a mostly African American cast to tell a story that stirs and inspires. It’s a parable about how God calls you, how you listen, and how you respond to the challenges that arise when you follow.

Sometimes, it’s about baby steps of faith.