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Faith-based movie premieres at Elgin church

Posted: July 27 2021 at 12:42 PM
Author: By Amanda Marrazzo*


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Mark Stewart Iverson takes questions from the audience who came to see the premiere of his movie "For Prophet" at First UMC in Elgin on July 18. The movie was mainly filmed in Elgin and at the church in 2019. Photo credit: Gil Feliciano

In the newly released movie “For Prophet,” Damen Fisher is continually criticized, told he “sucks” at just about everything, and called an “idiot” by a relentless demon toting a video camera. 

The light of the scene softens as Fisher is greeted with a loving and cheerful “God morning, Prophet” from his personally assigned-from-God Archangel Raphael. 

The very much relatable Fisher experiences an array of human emotions. At the same time, his spirit is pulled between good and evil in his all-too-common human struggles to save his marriage, his business, and a homeless shelter at the fictional St. Raphael’s Crisis Center in Mt. Zion, Illinois.

The movie, written, directed, and produced by Mark Stewart Iverson and his company MSI Films, was screened publicly for the first time by about 250 audience members Sunday, July 18, at the First United Methodist Church in Elgin.

Iverson chose First UMC in Elgin for the premiere because he shot several movie scenes in various rooms of the church and at locations throughout the city during the summer of 2019.

The audience laughed at the quirky personality of the Archangel Raphael as she (or “they” as the angel says “they” are non-binary) blissfully appeared and reappeared – each time agitating the demon and making him disappear. Because Archangel Raphael only speaks the language of love, the audience chuckled as she fumbled her way through the human language, expressed her love for the smell of gas and oil, and the amazement of tears and laughter.

In the struggle to win Fisher’s faith and his surrender to “the Most High” the archangel questions why it is so easy for humans to believe the thoughts and feelings the demon spews but not the loving word of God. 

“God is love,” the archangel tells Fisher, repeatedly insisting, “Hear with your ears.”

As the movie unfolds, to the demon’s enjoyment, Fisher agonizes over all the bad things in life, including a corrupt city council trying to shut down the crisis center and the death of his father, a doctor who sought to cure cancer only to die from the disease himself. The demon tells Fisher God is not good and that he does not love him.

Throughout the movie, which includes original music scores, local actors, and beautiful shots of Elgin, the battle of good and evil continues engaging the audience with very true-to-life, faith-testing scenarios.

Ultimately, the audience sees God and Fisher win, and the demon and his camera drop to the ground in agony.

Iverson lives in Arizona with his wife but grew up in Hoffman Estates, Ill., and attended Our Saviour’s UMC in Schaumburg. He said he wanted to write a movie that is a good, character-driven movie first, that also carries a message of faith. He said God put the idea for this movie in his heart and led him to Elgin to film it.  

He wants to show people it is OK to laugh while also experiencing the message of faith and Spirit. He hopes to appeal to audiences that “love God and love laughter.”

Iverson, 34, is currently searching for a distributor for the film, which he hopes to see carve out a sub-genre for moviegoers. Sadly, at least one distributor told him they don’t put faith and comedy together.

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Crews film a scene with Archangel Raphael in an Elgin neighborhood. Photo credit: Jordan Amandes

The job of a Christian is to evangelize to all people, but especially to those who are not in the church, he said.

“First and foremost is to tell the stories in my heart and hope that brings people to Spirit,” he said.

Longtime church member and treasurer Duane Werth said the use of humor to share a story of faith is not a problem for him.

“We are built in God’s image,” Werth said. “God has a sense of humor. There is nothing wrong with having some fun.”

First UMC Pastor Felicia LaBoy said Iverson’s film teaches the church it must “evangelize to the world, not just other Christians.”

LaBoy said Iverson’s movie does everything right in that it shows Archangel Raphael never gives up on Fisher no matter how frustrated and angry he gets and how hard the demon pushes his influence over him. She noted how not one time did a pastor encounter Fisher on his journey. Iverson’s characters were regular people, including a drug addict who helped lead Fisher to faith. The movie shows “God will use anybody” to bring someone to Him, she said.

“How many people today are struggling with 'what am I doing?’” she said. “Especially, after the year we just had. It takes 33 touches to bring someone to Christ, and (referring to the movie) what a wonderful way to touch.” 

To learn more about the movie, visit forprophetfilm.com.

*Amanda Marrazzo is a freelance journalist who lives in the northwest suburb of Algonquin. She’s been a professional writer/reporter for 25-plus years with 17 of those years as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune. 

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