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Pastor, retired Marine takes on the role of actor to deliver his message about God
Ken Bevel, a former Marine Corps officer, pastor and actor, shares his testimony Thursday evening to the congregation at Montgomery Memorial Baptist Church in Gainesville. Bevel co-starred in the 2011 film "Courageous." - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Ken Bevel may have starred in movies, but he doesn’t want you to look at him as a movie star.

Instead, he’d much rather be known as a man of Christ who uses his gifts to uplift his community and glorify God.

"The minute it becomes about me, God will take his hands off it," said Bevel, during a recent appearance at Montgomery Memorial Baptist Church in Gainesville.

Bevel, a former U.S. Marine Corps officer, has starred in several Sherwood Pictures movies. In the most recent film "Courageous," Bevel plays police officer Nathan Hayes.

"The movie talks about four police officers, bound to protect their community. You see them chasing down bad guys and doing all the things that police officers are supposed to do," Bevel said.

"The thing they don’t realize is that even though they’re giving 110 percent on the job, they’re being failures at home as fathers. A tragedy happens in one of their lives and it causes them to re-evaluate their positions as fathers."

The movies began in the early 2000s as a production company of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, where Bevel is currently a pastor.

Realizing the impact movies and music has on society, the church prayed for ways to interject more positive influences.

The answer was Sherwood Pictures.

The productions, including the work by the actors, are done on an almost entirely volunteer basis.

Using the talents of church members, the church first produced "Flywheel" in 2003, then "Facing Giants" in 2006. The group also put out the movie "Fireproof" in 2008, in which Bevel portrayed firefighter Michael Simmons, and finally "Courageous" in 2011.

"The title ‘Courageous’ comes out of Joshua 1:9, which talks about being a courageous man for your family," Bevel said.

That’s a message that he takes to heart.

"From prisons to corporate meetings, I go around talking to people about what it means to be a man in Christ or what it means to stand up courageously for your family," Bevel said.

"It speaks to me because I want to give my kids something I never had — a dad. People talk about material things, but I want to have a life that is pleasing to the Lord and be the man he’s called me to be for my family. That’s all about being intentional."

Even though he’s gotten more lucrative offers to be a part of larger secular productions, Bevel says he’s not interested.

"The gift that I have for acting, I know that God could easily take it away any day. God will make a way for me like he’s always done," Bevel said.

"I’m not compromising myself. I’m not compromising my family. I’m not compromising my integrity. I’m going to use the gift that God has given me to glorify his kingdom."

Just as Bevel plans to make a difference where he is, he wants other people to do the same.

He urges others to stop looking in the mirror thinking only of themselves and look on their neighbors with compassion.

Instead of complaining about what isn’t right, he says, people should be the change they would like to see.

"When you talk about meeting the needs of the community, God has given this community everything it needs to do ministry here in this city," Bevel said.

"The question is are we going to take what he’s given us and use it for his glory, or are we going to use it for ourselves?"

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