For many victims of last year’s deadly tornadoes in central Oklahoma, the storms created an existential crisis, where people questioned their beliefs and wondered just what to make of all the destruction in their midst.
One group has decided to try to tackle life’s big questions through the lens of several storm survivors.
Chris Forbes calls himself a “faith-based film producer.” After the deadly tornado struck Moore last May – the second EF-5 storm in less than 15 years – he knew there was a story to tell.
“That idea started to germinate and really percolated with me and another producer named Brian Cates,” Forbes said.
“He liked the idea and felt like this was an opportunity not just to do a news story or a documentary, but a spiritual disaster relief opportunity.”
So Forbes contacted Steven Earp, the pastor at Elevate Church in Moore, and got him on board.
“A common question people ask is, ‘Why did this happen? Why did this person lose his or her life and this person was spared?’” Earp said.
“We wouldn't want to be so arrogant as to say we're going to answer the question ‘why?’ But I think what we can do is reflect on the question, ‘Where was God in the process of this?’"
And with that, the film “Where was God? Stories of Hope After the Storm” was born.
Now usually in filmmaking, finding money for the project is the difficult part. But in this case, Elevate Church provided the funds, leaving Forbes and his team with another obstacle.
“The challenge was to try to identify what stories to tell. We wanted to tell the real story. Not everybody was ready to tell their story, and we wanted to respect that, and we didn’t want to approach people that were experiencing too much pain or shock,” he said.
It took a couple of months before they were able to decide whom to include in the film. Ultimately, they chose four main families.
“When we started filming, it was really grueling to be honest,” Micah Moody said.
Her family was one of those chosen. She has three kids, and they lived right across from Plaza Towers Elementary when the tornado came through, taking the lives of seven students. Moody and her husband lost their house, but their family remained intact.
Re-living that day in front of a camera is something Moody won’t soon forget.
“It was almost like going to a counseling session because you're just divulging so much of your inward, personal turmoil in the hopes that God will use it for someone else's life,” Moody said.
Following the storm, she says she and her husband turned to religion to handle their inner turmoil and begin the healing process.
“I don't want fear to drive my life. I don't want it to become my identity. Our identity is in Christ. We have our family; we have our faith. This is a story to tell,” she said.
For Steven Earp, Elevate Church’s pastor, Micah Moody’s story is just one reason the film will resonate with people.
“When someone is watching the film and they are going through some life storm, they're going through bankruptcy, divorce or mourning the loss of a relationship, I believe that when they hear the stories of people who lost everything and who still say, ‘When there's no hope, you can still find hope,’ I believe people will walk out encouraged,” Earp said.
He says that even though the Moore tornado is the backdrop for the story, the documentary has become something so much bigger than people making it through a severe weather event.