The Sound of Hope: The Story of Possum Trot (2024)

Movie Info

Movie Info

Director
Joshua Weigel
Run Time
2 hours and 15 minutes
Rating
PG-13

VP Content Ratings

Violence
1/10
Language
0/10
Sex & Nudity
8/10
Star Rating
★★★★4.5 out of 5

Relevant Quotes

I was a father to the needy, and I championed the cause of the stranger.

Job 29:16
Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world,  for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me…

Matthew 25:34-35
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

James 1:27
Bishop W.C. and First Lady Donna Martin comfort their foster child Terri. (c) Angel Studios

Director/co-writer (with his wife Rebekah) Joshua Weigel tells a story that we’d say is too Pollyannish, but for the fact that it is based on a true story. It is a heart-warming story of a community of people opening their hearts to dozens of abused children, so broken that no one wanted to take them in. One more testimonial to the healing power of love that refuses to give up on a person.

The “too good to be true” story begins in 1996 in the tiny settlement of Possum Trot, once a logging town located in east Texas. Bishop W.C. and First Lady Donna Martin (Demetrius Grose and Nika King) minister with the people of the small Bennett Chapel church. A Black congregation, it consists of blue-collar people who have a saying, “you knew you were rich if your roof didn’t leak.” When death takes her mother, Donna feels the urge to adopt a child, but her husband resists, obviously not wanting such a drastic change in their home life.

“Adoption? You want to adopt kids? Like, human ones?” is his reaction when Donna raises the question. However, she persists and soon has him convinced. Working with child social worker Susan Ramsey (Elizabeth Mitchell) they welcome the abused Terri (Diaana Babnicova) into their home. Following their example, other families also open their hearts and their homes to children, the process greatly egged on by the Bishop’s lobbying Susan and her superior to send them more children, those nobody else wants. when the Martins tell the social worker they have 22 local families wanting to taking adoption classes, they ask if she would be willing to host the classes at the church. Susan replies, “Are you kidding? We’ll get baptized for 22 families!”

The scenes of the first children going to church with their foster parent and being welcomed by the worshipers is heartwarming, the people coming up to a child and hugging him or her while calling themselves your “Aunt” or Uncle.” Most of these children have been abused, so the film does not sugar coat the process of the children adapting to a new family. One little boy screams when his foster mother turns on the bathtub spigot, and in a flashback we see how the boy had been abused in a bathtub with scalding hot water. The Martins also have difficulty with Teri, but Donna refuses to give up on her, saying, “We can look away, but the Father of us all, He uses one-way streets, because we are not meant to turn back, no matter what.”

All in all, 22 church families managed to adopt 77 children, with the film ending triumphantly when the Bishop calls for another child and is told that all the available children have been taken. This true story has been reported nationally–Oprah, Good Morning America, 48 Hours, and others. I especially enjoyed it because in my first parish, in North Dakota, my wife and I agreed to be “temporary” foster parents  for teenagers who had to be immediately removed from their families. Most of our wards were with us for just a few days, but one stayed with us for a year, our care for him enabling him to stay in and graduate from high school. (It became very rewarding when he moved away, married, and the couple took in numerous children themselves! However, unlike with the Martins, our example did not lead other members of our church to follow suite.)

If you are looking for an inspirational film, this is the one for you, with something in it for the whole family—though adults should be prepared to answer their children’s questions and explain how not every parent is capable of loving their child. (Children should be at least middle school age before being exposed to it.) The producers, Angel Studios, also made the excellent films reviewed in these pages, Sight and Cabrini,  also films that tell a good story rather than preach to the audience. If this new film sounds like Sound of Freedom,  that is because that film, released last year is also one of theirs. It was rightly controversial because the script sensationalized the “true story” by adding a Rambo-like climax in which the real-life hero never participated in. Judging by their new film, which is filled with scenes of ordinary but compassionate church people opening their hearts and arms to abused children, they have learned not to jazz up the facts.

For more information on foster care click onto the article “America’s Kid’s Belong

This review will be in the June issue of VP along with a set of questions for reflection and/or discussion. If you have found reviews on this site helpful, please consider purchasing a subscription or individual issue in The Store.

 

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