By Jacob Sahms
Optometrist David Evans has been helping people renew (and find) their vision for decades, since graduating from Southern College of Optometry and founding a practice in Memphis in 1994. But Evans had been making homemade films since he was a child, and his storytelling tendencies continued to be displayed at Passion Play at Calvary Church where he directed each Easter’s passion play. Moved first by The Passion of the Christ’s depiction of the Biblical story on screen, and enforced by the success of a church in making a film like Fireproof, Evans wrote and directed The Grace Card in 2010 with Louis Gossett Jr. Refusing to stop there, Evans released Indivisible, a story of love, marriage, and service, that is available now on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD.
For more than twenty years, Evans would write an original story for the church passion play, with scenes from Jesus’ passion story like the Last Supper and the Crucifixion interspersed. Originally depicted by a cast and crew of forty, the work grew to include hundreds of church members, planting the seeds for what a movie set might look like. One year, Evans wrote a story about a chaplain and a chaplain’s assistant, thinking about stories his brother had shared from his twenty-five years in the Air Force. When he saw the story of Chaplain Darrin and Heather Turner in the news, he reached out to them about sharing their story to reach a wider audience.
“We knew about the high divorce rate for military families and the impact of deployment on the family,” explained Evans, “but we rarely consider how it impacts the chaplain.”
In Indivisible, Justin Bruening and Sarah Drew play the Turners, a newlywed couple who find themselves physically separated by Darrin’s assignment to the Middle East. While they have faithfully cared for the soldiers and their spouses while Stateside, their marriage undergoes extreme testing because of Darrin’s assignment, where he finds himself under fire, literally. When he returns home, he brings back the baggage of war with him, and his faith is tested.
This is the kind of story that Evans wants to tell because he believes it will honor and glorify God, and potentially impact the lives of those who see it. Those are principles he has seen come true through providing eye care to thousands of people out of Evans’ eye practice. “In our eye practice, it’s about making their life better, giving them better vision- like removing a cataract,” he shared. “Making a difference in someone’s life through stories that God has put on our hearts are the same as the person teaching Vacation Bible School or leading a small group. I do it because I feel like we can make such a difference by bring people into God’s kingdom.”
Now that the film has already been released in theaters and been on the home media market for a few days, Evans has concrete evidence that the film has made a difference. Right now, he’s helping edit a social media video that had been sent by three grateful fans, who never thought they would see Indivisible in the first place! But when the theater showed the wrong film in their theater, they ended up seeing Indivisible by … accident. “One of the three men who had never accepted Christ went out afterward and filmed the story. He realized in his own life that some things weren’t right. Now he has a relationship with Christ and has been baptized,” said Evans.
The team has also received stories from spouses who took their husbands or wives to the film, who reported the differences in marriage and faith that the film had introduced. Evans believes that is because of the number of characters weaved into the Turners’ real-life story, that reflect a variety of relational issues that most everyone can relate to from their own experience. But Evans’ film encourages the audience to put God in the center of their relationships, to put on the armor of God with which they can defend themselves and their families.
All of this Evans explains directly, yet humbly. He knows that his film is the result of God’s vision and movement, and that he didn’t experience success on his own. Citing the support of his family, the teamwork of his eye care practice, and the prayers of his church, Evans says that his “heavy burden has been made light.”
Now, these years of work are laid out as evidence in Indivisible, for all to see, and to examine for themselves. The writer and director of the film just hopes that it will give audiences a clearer vision for the lives that God is calling them to live as they learn how to love.