In order to frame much of what you will read on this blog, I thought it might be helpful to share the story of my journey over the past six years. (For your sake, this will be the Reader’s Digest version). I do have a story before the past six years, but I’ll save that for a later post.
For six years I have been working with a creative media production company in downtown Siloam Springs, Arkansas called Gray Communications.
About two years after I started as an intern, I was given the opportunity to help develop and launch a new line of DVD resources known as Freedom Begins Here. The project began as a training curriculum for counselors to help people with sexual addictions. I have absolutely no counseling education or experience, nor do I have any desire to get any (I have enough student loan debt as it is). What I do have is a passion to change culture through media. Plus, it’s always interesting the reaction I get from people who ask what I do. I usually respond with, “I make videos about pornography.” I’m sure some of them regret asking.
Admittedly, training counselors on sexual addiction at first may not seem earth shattering, but the recent outflow of this project has the potential to impact literally millions of people.
What we found through our work on this project is a deeply embedded social issue that the church is largely ignoring. For instance, in a recent survey, 50% of Christian men and 20% of Christian women indicated they feel addicted to pornography. Another study by Christianity Today found that 7 out of 10 lay leaders in the church look at pornography once a week and 4 out of 10 pastors do the same. How is that possible?
The issue is two fold. First, pornography is now a part of everyday life. It is “normal” at least in mainstream culture (which a lot Christians emulate). We don’t have to seek it out, it comes to us. If we want it, we can find absolutely any kind of porn in limitless quantities in absolute secrecy without paying a dime for it. Combine that with the second issue, that Christians have done a horrible job educating and equipping ourselves and our children about sex and presto we have one of the largest crises of our time.
Alright, back to the story. We released the counseling curriculum and quickly realized that training counselors was only a small part of addressing this epidemic.
So, we partnered with Dr. Gary Smalley and Ted Cunningham to offer individuals, couples, families, churches and small groups a series of DVD Toolkits to face the crisis of pornography and sexual sin.
We made that decision about two years ago. We thought that because pornography was such a huge issue, and because we had a “name,” people would quickly embrace a relevant solution to overcoming it. Boy were we wrong.
The past two years have been the most challenging years of my life. We’re trying to launch a product that almost everyone needs but almost no one wants. We might as well be trying to get people excited enough to talk about a cure for a venerial disease. You don’t hear a lot of people walking around saying, “Hey, I was addicted to pornography but this product helped me.” It’s a very private yet widespread issue.
But despite all of the setbacks and challenges we’ve experienced some incredible breakthroughs and accomplishments.
People told us that self-publishing DVDs was next to impossible. They said if we wanted to get our products into retail we would have to sign with a publisher which means if we make it big, the publisher looks like a genius and reaps huge rewards. If it flops, they ship thousands of unsold pieces of product back to us and we all go home. Turns out, we couldn’t get a publisher to even notice us anyway and distributors viewed us as an anomaly.
So we are going it alone.
We built a team of seasoned professionals from retail, banking, and production to get Freedom Begins Here off the ground. Every person who joined the team made extreme sacrifices in salary and job security. They came because of the vision that we all share; to change culture through media.
The crazy thing is that our plan is beginning to work. After four years of clawing for traction, we are seeing the fruit of our labor. We are still far from profitability, but we now see a path to success where before it looked more like a jungle.
You know, life can be very mysterious.
If someone told me six years ago that I would help create a DVD series on the topic of pornography, I probably would have dismissed them immediately. The funny thing is, someone DID tell me that. But it wasn’t six years ago, it was more like twelve. I was at a high school basketball game. Sitting next to me was a woman I had never met before. Somehow we started chatting and she asked me what I wanted to do with my life. At the time, I was just becoming interested in digital media. The Internet was still in its infancy, but it was far enough along for people to realize that online pornography was becoming a problem. This woman, whom I’d never met before in my life, suggested I use my interest in digital media to help alleviate this problem. Honestly, I didn’t even remember our conversation until about a year ago when I was well into the Freedom Begins Here project. That memory sat dormant somewhere in the neurons of my brain for all that time. Remembering it was first of all an absolute miracle (if you know me, you know how bad my memory is) and it kind of validate things for me.
That should get you up to speed for now. I’m sure I will post more about this journey later.