Enjoy an engaging evening with effervescent storyteller and author Jennifer Wilder Morgan as she takes the stage with animated characters and scenery from her highly-anticipated book, Come to the Garden. Fathom Events and Eakin Films are bringing "Come to the Garden - On Stage!" to select U.S. cinemas for one night on Tuesday, May 3 at 7:00 p.m. local time.
This exclusive event includes a post-event discussion with special guest and New York Times best-selling author of The Shack, Wm Paul Young.Tickets for "Come to the Garden - On Stage!" can be purchased online by visiting www.FathomEvents.com or at participating theater box offices. Fans throughout the U.S. will be able to enjoy the event in more than 400 movie theaters through Fathom's Digital Broadcast Network. For a complete list of theater locations visit the Fathom Events website (theaters and participants are subject to change).
Q: Jennifer, thanks for availing your time for this interview. For our readers who may not be familiar, briefly tell us what "Come to the Garden - On Stage!" is about?
Jennifer: Thank you for inviting me! Come to the Garden On Stage! is a unique storytelling film event. Using groundbreaking projection technology-fusing live action with animation during a filmed stage show-I recreate the wondrous garden where I finally opened my heart and mind to the possibility of experiencing encounters with the Divine. With the help of a humorous and wise guardian angel named Margaret, I take the audience on a journey to discover the reality of God's healing presence in our world and in our lives. Heaven is closer than you think!
Q: I believe Kathie Lee Gifford, Chonda Pierce, Louis Gossett, Jr. are all involved in this event. Can you briefly outline for us their roles and involvements?
Jennifer: Although this is a one-woman show, I am not entirely alone on the stage. As we began planning this project, God faithfully opened doors, providing the assistance of some very special and talented people who wanted to help me share my message by lending their voiceover performances to the show. Oscar winner Louis Gossett, Jr. is the stirring voice of God, Emmy winner and Today Show host Kathie Lee Gifford lends her lovely voice to song and scripture quotations-which are from her narration of the audiobook version of my book-and faith comedienne Chonda Pierce voices an endearing angel Margaret. Through their own personal experiences, each of these precious people understand the truth about how God shines His healing light of grace into the midst of life's trials and struggles, and were very gracious in their willingness to help me share this message with our broken and hurting world.
Q: Tyler Smith who is the son of CCM artist Michael W. Smith is also involved in providing the music. We had just published an interview with Tyler. How did you get to work with him? And what do you appreciate about his approach to the music portion of this event?
Jennifer: Tyler Michael Smith is an exceptionally talented musician and composer, and I am thrilled to have had the chance to work with him. He was introduced to us by our film's director, Ken Carpenter, also from Nashville. In my initial discussion with Tyler about the musical score, I told him I envisioned music that was soul-stirring and elegant. Boy, did he deliver! I was moved to tears as I previewed the finished film because it was evident that Tyler's heart was completely engaged in the project. His music ebbs and flows beautifully with the storyline's events and dialogue. His music mirrors the emotions that flowed from my heart.
Q: I believe this event is based on your book "Come to the Garden." What inspired you to write this book? How has this book helped you personally in your own spiritual journey?
Jennifer: Yes, Come to the Garden On Stage! is an adaptation of my best-selling novel, Come to the Garden, which is inspired by true events. It began with a personal calling to write about how God has been speaking His love and comfort to me throughout my life-a calling I initially didn't want to accept, because to do that, I would have to share things that I had previously kept very private.
But I believe that God had been guiding the inspiration for this book from my earliest days. When I was a little girl, my daddy, a physician, would take me to visit his patients with him on Sunday afternoons after church. I saw how his compassion and willingness to listen to and spend time with his patients brought a bright spark of hope into the sickroom. Many years later, as I visited patients as a lay minister in a Houston hospital, I recognized that same spark of hope as I offered a safe, nonjudgmental atmosphere of compassion, listening and acceptance. Patients let down their defenses and began sharing deeply personal and powerful stories with me about how they had encountered God in their lives-bringing them comfort, encouragement and hope. I realized that I was not the only one who had been having powerful encounters with God ... yet I had been afraid to share them. Seeing the hope and healing that occurs between people who share their stories encouraged me to finally overcome my fears and pay attention to this intriguing calling to share my own personal stories in the form of a book.
Writing this book was a completely organic experience. I had no expectations about writing. I had never contemplated writing a book until the calling to do so was laid on my heart. But I finally said "yes," and in a very short period of time the book got written, published and is now a Fathom cinema event. Goodness! I have learned a profound lesson on this journey-so many of us feel completely unqualified or unworthy of the calling that God places on our hearts. But if we are obedient and put our faith and trust in the One who calls us, well ... that is when miracles can happen.
Q: Why did you choose to use this "garden" motif which is central to the book?
Jennifer: The very title of the book and cinema event, "Come to the Garden" is an invitation to come into the deeply intimate and loving presence of our Creator-the relationship we had with Him in Eden, the original garden. I believe God loves gardens, as they are referred to frequently in scripture. They are places of beauty, quiet and solitude, where we can experience His presence and hear His voice. Our gardens can be physical gardens, a favorite prayer chair, or a journal and a cup of coffee at a local coffee shop ... any place that our hearts can connect to the One who loves us more than we could ever imagine. As for me, my backyard garden is the place I go to sit and talk with God each day, and so it became the setting for my story.
Q: What are some of the lessons or ideas you want people to reflect upon after watching this event?
Jennifer: I would like for people to come away from this cinema event knowing that no matter what they go through in life they will never be alone-that they are loved beyond their own understanding. And that to experience God, we need to remember the kind of faith we had as children, when we were full of expectation, belief and wonder. Also, as we receive love, comfort, healing and encouragement from heaven, we are meant to share it with others. As stated in the film: "What we receive must flow out of us. Someone out there needs to hear your story, so that they too can receive what you have received. This is how hope is spread in the world. It is what we were designed to do."
Q: This event will be shown across some 400 cinemas on May 3. Where can our readers find out the venues and more info about it?
You can also download the free Come to the Garden app, which has a special Come to the Garden Cinema Show page.