book Faith in the Land of Make-Believe Author: Lee Stanley Arguably 99 percent of Hollywood projects are birthed from one motivation: money. That’s what makes Lee Stanley a radical exception to the rule, and why his book’s title is so fitting. Faith in the Land of Make-Believe is, surprisingly, not Stanley’s story chronicling Emmy wins and box office successes—a tale he’s qualified to tell. Instead, it’s the story of a man sincerely praying and asking God to do whatever He wants and then having the courage to obey such feelings. Gridiron Gang is Stanley’s most popular work, a No. 1 box-office smash starring Dwayne Johnson (The Rock) that Stanley produced. He’s also been nominated for 10 Emmy Awards, winning five, for his documentary series Desperate Passage, chronicling the journey of several violent juvenile prisoners aboard Stanley’s own sailboat. Both projects were birthed out of a prayer that God would use his creative gifts for the kingdom. Desperate Passage initially started with a call to fix a projector at a local juvenile facility. They called Stanley’s film company from the yellow pages and the inmate/tour guide who took him around ended up becoming the very reason he created the series. “He hated me on sight,” says Stanley with a laugh. “He wouldn’t talk to me, and just gave me short answers. He had tattoos all over. I asked him how old he was, and he said, ‘18 in a minute.’ I told him, ‘You could do anything you want to be.’ They called me to come in, so I extended my hand to thank him for the tour. He shook my hand like a fish. I said, ‘When you shake a man’s hand, hang on to it. And look me in the eye.’ I started walking and got about 15 feet away, when he called out and had tears in his eyes and said, ‘Sir? Will you come back and visit me?’ I said, ‘I don’t know.’ “I got the film, went out to my truck and sat there and cried,” he continues. “I had no idea why I cried, but I just cried and just said, ‘Lord, I’ll do whatever you want me to do.’ Nobody ever told these guys how to be a man, a father or a husband. They didn’t know how to make their lives work. I started volunteering one day a week and then it became seven days a week. I became a volunteer chaplain, and I had a passion that the world needed to see these kids.” It took a few years to gain the legal clearance to clear the offenders to leave, film them and take them out to sea, but Stanley’s prayers were answered all along the way. In the end, Desperate Passage became a hit, featured Michael Landon and won many Awards. Even the new book project was birthed in the same way, with Stanley praying that God would continue to use him for the kingdom of God in the next stage of his life. “About seven years ago, I went to my study and started crying out to God asking what he wanted me to do,” says Stanley. “I wanted this next act of my life to be more prosperous, more fulfilling and more pleasing to God and more impacting on the world. I just started writing. About 100 pages into it, I let my son, Shane, read it and he said, ‘Dad, that’s a book.’ I said, ‘I don’t write books. I write screenplays.’ Then I let my wife read it, and she came back into the studio with tears in her eyes. I asked, ‘What’s the matter?’ She said, ‘There’s a book here.’ That’s when I knew what was coming.” If anything, Faith in the Land of Make-Believe encourages the believer to follow in Stanley’s own steps—not toward a Hollywood success story but toward a sincere openness to whatever God wants. CCM 53