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One Simple Question: What Would Jesus Do?
WWJD: A Christian Drama Film
The movie opens with the Maxwell family getting on the road for their family vacation. Unfortunately, they figure in a car accident where the Pastor’s pregnant wife and his young son die in the collision. Only PASTOR HENRY MAXWELL survives.
Three years later, the town of Raymond, California is in a financial crisis with its people mired in hopelessness. Their church is no help because the Pastor himself has lost his spirit. His personal loss has shaken his faith in God.
Only a few people attend church on Sundays. The church building is on foreclosure, and more people are being evicted from their homes.
A candidate for mayor, Alex York promises that once voted to office he will bring back their jobs, their homes, and the prosperity that they once enjoyed. He promises to open businesses and create jobs. He promises opportunity for a new life. He encourages the people to put their trust in him and he will not let them down.
A DRIFTER comes to town to find some honest work. He needs a place to sleep and he is directed to the old church but Pastor Maxwell refuses to help him because his church does not do the “shelter” anymore. The Drifter asks for odd jobs in the church in exchange for a place to sleep but again Pastor Maxwell has refused.
“Things are really tough in this town right now. People just aren’t coming to church.”
“I thought that’s when people need the Lord the most, when times are tough.”
Pastor Maxwell wishes the Drifter luck and hope he finds work. He says he’s sorry.
VIRGINIA PAIGE is a real estate owner who, with her business partner, has been evicting people from their homes due to unpaid rent. She makes a land deal with Alex York to tear down the church in order to build a hotel casino. It is his way of bringing in jobs and money into the town of Raymond. Since gambling is illegal in their town, there are some laws that are going to be presented to the Raymond City Council making gambling legal and when Alex York is mayor, those laws are going to pass.
The Drifter comes to Virginia Paige for work but she refuses and threatens to call the police if he does not leave. He leaves and goes on his way. As he passes by a cafe, he hears someone singing a Christian song. He enters and sits down to listen but is asked to leave because the seat is for paying customers only. He offers to work for a meal but he is refused.
The Christian singer, MAX WALKER, is offered a recording contract by record producers but he has to sing only the songs that can become commercially successful. He agrees because he and his mother are soon to be evicted from their home. They need the money.
The Raymond Daily News is owned by DIANA NORMAN whose business practices are a bit questionable. The Drifter also asks her for a job but she refuses to hire a stranger with no experience in printing.
Pastor Maxwell receives a letter from the bank informing him that the church is foreclosed and they have ten days to leave the premises.
The Drifter lines up at the Kitchen Soup organized by Alex York but it is more of a photo op than an altruistic act. The Drifter does not accept the bowl of food that York hands him. He tells him that there are more important things in life than food and money.
York hires a man to drive the Drifter out of town. The burly man who has been arrested for robbery and assault takes the money and promises to handle York’s problem.
As the Drifter walks around, he finds Max Walker trying to practice a new song. The Drifter plays a tune on Max’s guitar and Max sings his new song to the tune. The chorus of the song says, “What Would Jesus Do?” The Drifter encourages Max to keep singing his songs and not to change.
The Drifter is confronted by the man hired by Alex York. He orders him to leave but the Drifter says that he is not ready to leave. After they exchanged words, the man leaves the Drifter alone.
“I feel your pain, Brother.”
“You feel my pain? You don’t know me!”
“I’ve been where you are… I’ve walked where you walk.”
What Would Jesus Do?
That Sunday, the Drifter passes by the church when he hears Max Walker singing inside. He sits weakly near the church door. After the song, Pastor Maxwell announces to the few people present that it is Max’s last Sunday with them because he is moving forward with his recording career. Pastor then proceeds to tell them that the bank has sold the church to a group of investors and they have to move out soon. He tells them that it is going to be his last sermon, that after the church is demolished, a new church is going to be constructed in a new location but when the new church is built, he is not coming back as their pastor.
Present in church that day are Max Walker and his mother, Diana Norman, Virginia Paige and her mother, one businessman supporter of Alex York’s bid to build a casino, and a few others.
As they bowed their heads in prayer, the Drifter enters the church and starts to talk, interrupting their prayer.
“You know I’ve been wondering…. if I die in the next few days which in every likelihood that I might… I would like the satisfaction of knowing that I said my say in a place like this.
“I’ve been in town for a few days to try to find a job and all that time, I’ve not heard a single word of comfort or sympathy except from your minister who said that he was sorry for me and hoped that I would find a job somewhere.
“I understand that you could not go out of your way and have jobs for other people but what puzzles me is what does it mean to follow Jesus….. you sit in a church and talk about following Jesus, you even sing songs ….. are you really following his examples?
“Would He have considered destruction of the church so that a casino could be built?
“Would He take bribes from corrupt officials and run graphic tabloid photographs in His newspaper?
“Would He use His God-given talent in such a way as to lead young people astray?
“Would He throw others out on the street just so He could make a buck?
“Would He abandon His congregation and His community at the most crucial time because of His own personal issues?
“What would the world be like today if everybody try to act as Jesus did? So what really is the lesson here?
“When you find yourself struggling with life’s difficult decisions, ask yourself one simple question, ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ ”
The Drifter collapses on the floor. The man is very sick. Pastor keeps him in his place where a doctor checks on him from time to time. Pastor is still as lost as ever.
“Heavenly Father, bring the light into my life and show me what I must do to serve you.”
Living Like Jesus
The people who are present in church that Sunday have been affected by what has taken place and by what they have heard from the man. Diana Norman describes an overwhelming emptiness, a sadness that she can’t shake off. Pastor tells her that he is not the one who can help her.
“Have you lost your faith, Pastor?”
“Let’s just say I’ve been tested beyond my capacity to endure.”
“The Lord does not challenge us with more than we can handle.”
Diana Norman changes her business practices, refusing to print unethical subject matters and unsavory photographs in her newspaper.
“You are not Jesus.”
“I’m not trying to be Him. I’m trying to live like Him.”
Virginia Paige is not sure anymore about the land deal she has with Alex York. She starts to have second thoughts about tearing the church down and building a casino on its location.
Max Walker has changed his mind about signing the contract for his record deal because of the songs that he is not comfortable with.
“I know in my heart that this is what Jesus would do.”
“Jesus? Are you insane young man?”
“If I have to live in the streets to stand up to what I believe in, then so be it.”
One morning, Diana, Max, and Virginia come to see Pastor Henry. They feel that the Drifter has been sent to give them a message. They have asked themselves what Jesus would do, and the answer they have found is “to save the church.”
The three persuade Pastor Henry Maxwell to lead them because he is still their pastor, their minister. After a brief prayer, Pastor Henry agrees. It is not an easy task but they face each decision by asking themselves one simple question, “What Would Jesus Do?”
They mobilize themselves and their resources to save the church from destruction and they have successfully stopped the demolition.
Then they have decided that in order to save the town of Raymond, someone must run for mayor against Alex York. Virginia is selected to run, and she wins by a landslide.
As the town comes alive with hope and prosperity, the Drifter gets up and hitchhikes out of town. He is no longer needed in there.
What Would Jesus Do is a Christian drama film released in 2010 directed by Thomas Makowski. The film stars John Schneider as the Drifter, Maxine Bahns as Virginia (in the real estate business), Adam Gregory as Max Walker (sings Christian songs), Jim Gleason as Pastor Henry Maxwell, Joni Bovill as Diana Norman (publisher of the town newspaper).