EDINBURGH, IN — Melissa Coles got a call in the late summer of 2019. When the person called back, she hung up again.
“On the third call, Kirk Cameron and the Kendrick brothers all the producers answered the phone,” she said, Alex, Shannon, producer of Christian films like “Fireproof,” “Warroom.” , referring to Stephen Kendrick. “Courageous.”
Coles was familiar with the 2018 YouTube documentary. She was one of her subjects.
“It’s three strong stories rolled into one,” Coles said. The story of her son, whom she offered to adopt. And the story of the couple who adopted him.
Cameron told Coles that he “fell in love” watching the documentary. He spoke to the Kendrick brothers about the documentary and asked them what they thought of him making it into a movie.
“They said, ‘We don’t just like it, we love it and want to be a part of it,'” Coles said, according to the Indianapolis Archdiocese’s newspaper. told Criterion.
Three years after that call, their vision became a reality. The movie “Life Mark” will be screened in select theaters nationwide from September 9th to 16th. A novel of the same name will be released in August.
Coles calls “Lifemark” “a meaningful, faith-based film that restores the beauty of adoption.” There’s laughter, there’s crying, there’s drama, there’s four-wheel drive and skydiving, I’m an adrenaline junkie,” she admitted.
But Coles, who was born and raised in Columbus, Indiana, was initially hesitant to say “yes” to the film, as in her moment in 1993 when something told her to get up from the abortion table. Unlike “yes”.
Coles was 18 when she had an unplanned pregnancy. As revealed in “I Lived on Parker Avenue”, she and her boyfriend knew they didn’t have the means to raise a child. .
Soon, Coles was sitting at a table in an Indianapolis abortion facility, with a doctor sitting in front of her. As he was selecting tools to initiate an abortion, something extraordinary happened: She heard a voice.
“It said, ‘Get up, get up.’ It’s never too late,” she recalls. “I said, ‘I can’t do this,’ and literally flew out the door.”
Through a private adoption agency, she chose a couple from Louisiana, Susan and Jimmy Scotton to raise their son, whom they named David.
This documentary chronicles the emotions of the Coles, David and Scottons family when they first met in 2013. It was the first time in her life that Coles had held her son.
She does not deny the pain of giving up a child for adoption.
Even after 10 years of keeping in touch with her son, she said, “It’s still hard.”
“I knew I was doing the right thing for David, but it was David, not me, but I will always miss him. This void will always exist,” she said. rice field.
But she thinks about her son’s life. He is 29 years old, a law graduate, newlywed and working as an attorney in Louisiana.
Coles eventually had another child, Courtney. She loves her daughter with all her heart and loves being her mother.
Despite that joy, Coles said she was “angry and bitter with God. My life has been a struggle. Why did I have to let my son go? Didn’t you give me what I needed to keep me?”
Then she met her now husband of 16 years, Sean Coles.
“On the first day he called me about where I was standing with the Lord,” said Coles, a nondenominational Christian. “I realized that I wasn’t living for God. I didn’t.”
He helped her learn to trust God. Sean was also the one who encouraged his wife to say yes to the “Lifemark” movie.
“There were many reasons not to do it,” she said. “I didn’t want people to see my weakest point. I didn’t want people to take advantage of me.
“Then my husband said, ‘What if it only helps one person? ‘ So we agreed to do it.”
Coles said working with Cameron and Kendricks was “really great.” “They allowed me to participate, read the script, and make changes and suggestions.”
They asked for her opinion on casting and sent her paperwork for young Melissa and the woman who applied to play the “current” Melissa. Marissa Hampton and Dawn Long were cast as her then and now, respectively.
Coles and her husband were invited to spend a week on set in a Georgia studio so that she could provide support while the emotional “Melissa” scenes were being shot.
“As I approached the studio building, I felt the Holy Spirit thumping heavily,” recalls Coles. “It’s even more impressive when you’re inside. When we were with them, we could see the Holy Spirit at work.”
She said there were obstacles in the making of the film as well. The pandemic has caused delays, and producers have had trouble finding a company to distribute the film, “because Kirk Cameron and Kendricks don’t support abortion.
However, the same life-preserving values permeate the project, resulting in the saving of a fetus before the release of Lifemark.
Coles said a pregnant woman on her way to an abortion center stopped and saw a large group of people gathered near the studio.
“The actor Raphael[Ruggero]who plays David was giving a talk,” she explained. “She was invited to be an extra in the movie. She decided not to have her abortion.”
That story alone fulfilled Coles’ conviction that if the film helped “just one person,” it would be worth the time and sacrifice.
Still, she wants more.
“I hope this film helps people understand the beauty of adoption and how important it is,” Coles said, adding that he’s faced with unplanned pregnancies and forced abortions. I hope it helps people who are in need know that they have a lot of options.
She said she knows the documentary has “saved at least 11 babies from abortions.” “If the documentary did that, how much more will the film do?”
Coles is also looking forward to films that “expand the platform” for her pro-life endeavors. In addition to speaking nationally in support of her adoption, Coles has worked with women with unplanned pregnancies, finished writing one of her unpublished books, and said she “put her feet on her acting.” I’m writing another book and screenplay while stepping in.
She also wants to start a non-profit organization that will fund the education of both female and male students who choose life for their unplanned pregnancies.
“I still feel the emptiness of losing David,” she said. When I see people helping others, my healing increases.”
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Hoefer is a staff writer for The Criterion, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.