Little Boy Introduces Jakob Salvati In First Starring Role

A film released nationwide in April depicts the story of a little boy’s faith during World War II. Little Boy stars Jakob Salvati, his debut in a leading role. Jakob agreed to an interview with the War Cry about his own faith, his film career and the thrilling story about a boy who prays fervently for his dad to return home from a Nazi prison camp.

WC: I’m told you’ve had no acting lessons. So how did you break into Hollywood?
JS:
Mom is an acting coach and has worked for some of the major television networks. I have a little brother, Josh, who is autistic, and the two most powerful parts of his brain are for photographic memory and [music] pitch. He plays piano because of his autism.

Anyway, since he has photographic memory, mom would take my brother to many auditions because a talent like that is a great advantage when doing the scenes. Sometimes mom would take me along too, and sometimes the production company would audition me. About 1,000 boys auditioned for this part, and they gave it to me after I auditioned nine times. They said “This is the kid!”

WC: This is your first starring role, but not your first movie project. What other movie credits do you have?
JS:
I was in Crescendo and Escape From Tomorrow.

WC: Tell me about your Christian faith.
JS:
My family is Christian, and my dad is an ordained minister who serves our church in Norco, California as the worship leader. In fact, our name, Salvati, means “salvation” in Italian. I accepted the Lord as my Savior because of my family’s example to me, and because of all the people at our church that seem like family to me. I was just ready to make that decision to live for Jesus.

WC: Tell me about Norco.
JS:
It’s a great place to live. Did you know that there are more horses than people living there? It is the largest horse-per-capita city in the world.

WC: What would you do if you won an Oscar?
JS:
I don’t want to sound prideful, but I would like that very much!

WC: Do you think you could be the next teen-idol?
JS:
I don’t know about that [Jacob smiles], but I will tell you that there’s a girl I like—but I won’t tell you her name because that might scare her off if everybody read about her.

Jakob SalvatiWC: Were you ever nervous or scared during the filming?
JS:
Only on the first day. The crew members were all yelling at each other and I started to cry. The director made a deal with me to get them to stop fighting. He promised me that for every scene I filmed, I’d get a toy! So I asked, “Well, what about my brother?” And he said, “Okay, Josh too!”

WC: Is Josh in the movie too?
JS:
Yep! He was my stunt-double for most of the movie, and it is Josh you see on the movie poster of the little boy looking out to sea.

WC: So after that first day of shooting, did everything else go pretty much okay?
JS:
Yes, after a while they started calling me “Little Leo” (DiCaprio). So that was pretty cool.

WC: What does it feel like to look up at that big screen and see yourself there?
JS:
I know that this is a blessing from God, because not many kids get to do this.

WC: I understand this role came at just the right time for your family financially.
JS:
Yes, the economy was bad, and what I made on this film enabled us to make house payments. That’s another reason why I know this came from God.
Some movie companies offered me a lot of money to make some of the films they want to put out, but because of my family’s Christian values, we’ve turned them down.

WC: Tell me about Little Boy.
JS:
This is a movie with depth. And it’s beautifully shot in the same studio where they shot Titanic [Baja Film Studios].

Anyway, this eight year-old kid wants to get his dad back from the war. It was hard for his dad to go because they were super–close. When the bus came to pick his dad up, that was a very sad scene. He tried everything he could to get his dad back.

WC: Will there be a sequel to Little Boy? Say, a Little Boy 2?
JS:
I don’t think so, as far as Little Boy is concerned. But I do know that there will be many more Christian films coming, because that’s what Hollywood is finally beginning to realize. This movie company (Metanoia Films) was founded on the basis of producing films of Christian content and quality, designed to specifically honor God—not man or the (movie) industry. These are the kind of movies we need.

WC: Do the problems of the world scare you?
JS:
I believe my faith in the Lord will last forever. Things that I see happening do scare me sometimes, but the Lord has promised to take care of us. Some things we can control, and some things we can’t. We just have to have faith in Him.

WC: What kind of movie would you like to star in again someday?
JS:
I’d like to do a movie that tells the world who God really is. Not what people think He is like, but who He really is!

WC: Is there anything about Little Boy that you’d like our readers to know—like a certain plotline?
JS:
Yes—listen for the line, “Do the list.” That figures prominently in the story and if they go to see this movie, that line will make a lot of sense!

Down to His Last ‘At Bat’

For Michael Jamison, an addiction gone out-of-control felt like a baseball player at bat, with the count 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth inning. The next pitch could quite possibly be his last chance at recovery, and life.

“My family had been praying for me for years to be saved, and to find a way out of my addiction,” Michael says. “But my life was out of control.”

Michael struck out at two rehabilitation programs before, and now he found himself at the Bethesda Mission, begging for help for perhaps one last time. Bethesda was unable to help with Michael’s particular situation, but someone at that mission knew about a program that could.

“The mission director called The Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) in Harrisburg, PA, and fortunately they had a spot for me,” Michael says, with a look of relief still on his face. “Confusion, pain, emotional suffering was an everyday thing for me,” he explains. “So I asked the Lord to save me, and to deliver me from the life I had been living.”

Perhaps this was Michael’s answer to his desperate prayer.

“I have no doubt at all in my mind that God opened that door to The Salvation Army for me,” Michael says. “I would probably not be here, much less becoming a child of God and the joy and release that brings!”

Michael JamisonAs his faith in Jesus deepened, Michael felt a complete conversion took place in his life. His victory over addictions within reach, he could now look forward to living the life God intends for him, and for which his family had been praying.

“God helped me in a way I did not deserve, and He’s still helping me and blessing me!”

Michael has made the decision to turn himself completely over to the Lord. Today, he urges others to become born-again and become released from the many burdens that ensnare them.

After successfully graduating from the program at the Harrisburg ARC, Michael found a church home at the Lancaster Citadel Corps. He has become something of a fixture at the corps, making many friends and participating in a number of corps activities on Sunday and throughout the week.

He is always ready to share his witness, and to help direct others to the same deliverance in Jesus that he has found.

“What I want to do now is to serve God by helping the lost, the sick, the tired—people that have no hope, like I was,” he says.

Michael’s message to others finding themselves with “the game of life on the line” is simple: “Ask the Lord to rescue you, and to come into your heart and life. He’ll never leave you. Just believe in Christ’s saving power. Have complete faith in Him. And never stop praying; nor trying to find His will for your life!”

General Cox Joins the Call for the Commitment to End Extreme Poverty

THE Salvation Army’s international leader, General André Cox, has joined more than 30 leaders from major world religions and heads of global faith-based organisations to launch a clarion call to action to end extreme poverty by 2030 – a goal shared by the World Bank Group. From The Salvation Army International Headquarters:

The joint statement, Ending Extreme Poverty: A Moral and Spiritual Imperative, notes that remarkable recent progress has been made in reducing extreme poverty. Over 25 years the world has gone from nearly two billion people living in extreme poverty to fewer than one billion. Now, the statement explains, for the first time in human history there exists both the capacity and moral responsibility to ensure that no one has to live in extreme poverty’s grip.

‘We have ample evidence from the World Bank Group and others showing that we can now end extreme poverty within 15 years,’ the Moral Imperative statement notes. ‘In 2015, our governments will be deciding upon a new global sustainable development agenda that has the potential to build on our shared values to finish the urgent task of ending extreme poverty.

‘We in the faith community embrace this moral imperative because we share the belief that the moral test of our society is how the weakest and most vulnerable are faring. Our sacred texts also call us to combat injustice and uplift the poorest in our midst.’

The Moral Imperative statement seeks to generate the necessary social and political will by inspiring greater commitments from others to join in this cause, tapping into many of the shared convictions and beliefs that unify the world’s major religions around the call and responsibility to combat poverty.

Endorsers are committed to galvanizing greater commitment and action from within the faith community globally and across every sector to end extreme poverty. For The Salvation Army, this is an opportunity to join forces with people of faith from around the world as it continues a battle against poverty that has been a vital aspect of its mission throughout its 150-year history. International leader General André Cox adds: ‘The Salvation Army will continue to engage with policy makers and will seek to work in strategic partnerships with like-minded people in order to make this dream a reality. Much of what we do now and many of our development programs around the world are actively supporting these ideals and goals.’

The announcement from global faith leaders arose from the World Bank’s ‘Faith Based and Religious Leaders Round Table’ held on 18 February – the first high-level meeting between World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim and faith leaders. Commissioner Charles Swansbury, International Secretary for Program Resources at International Headquarters, London, UK, represented The Salvation Army.

In a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington in advance of the World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim spoke about almost a billion people who live in what is classed as ‘extreme poverty’ – surviving on less than US$1.25 a day. ‘Few of us,’ he said, ‘can even imagine what this must be like. Let’s remember what poverty is. Poverty is 2.5 billion people not having access to financial accounts. Poverty is 1.4 billion people without access to electricity. Poverty is also putting your children to bed without food. And poverty is not going to school because everyone in the family needs to earn a few cents each day.’

Responding to the launch of the moral imperative, he added: ‘Faith leaders and the World Bank Group share a common goal – to realize a world free of extreme poverty in just 15 years. The moral imperative can help drive the movement to end poverty by 2030 by inspiring large communities to act now and to advocate for governments to do the same. These commitments from religious leaders come at just the right time – their actions can help hundreds of millions of people lift themselves out of poverty.’

The statement closes by framing the imperative in stark terms: ‘Poverty’s imprisonment of more than a billion men, women and children must end. Now is the time to boldly act to free the next generation from extreme poverty’s grip.’

To view the General’s complete statement visit: http://www.salvationarmy.org/thegeneral/endingextremepoverty

Characters of the Easter Story

Although Jesus is the central figure of the Easter story, He was surrounded by a myriad of personalities who contributed to the fulfillment of God’s plan of salvation for mankind. Every character had his or her unique impact, good or bad, on the events surrounding the first Easter morning. In this special War Cry section, noted writers introduce us to the characters whose names are synonymous with the Easter story.

Major Ed Forster leads off by taking us through the roller coaster of emotions the disciple Peter must have felt during those perplexing few days when Jesus was hailed as a king upon entering Jerusalem, only to be captured, tried and sentenced to death. Through the words of Lieutenant Christopher White, readers will learn of another disciple, John, who was especially close to the Savior.

An unidentified thief, crucified simultaneously with Jesus, was the first to confess, shortly before death mercifully ended his nightmare. That man’s confession proves to mankind that a home in Heaven awaits every believer in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Major Frank Duracher examines the thief on the cross.

Caiaphas and Judas were two villains in the events culminating in the Resurrection. As high priest, Caiaphas spearheaded the kangaroo court that took Jesus through mock trials straight to Calvary, the execution hill just outside Jerusalem. Captain August Pillsbury studies Caiaphas’ infamous role.

Major Rob Reardon takes aim at Judas, perhaps the most despised traitor in human history. Judas’ unthinkable betrayal fulfilled Old Testament prophecies about the Son of Man being turned over to sinful men.

Joseph of Arimathea, a silent believer and member of the Sanhedrin, performed a loving gesture for the dead Messiah, whose tomb became vacant. Lt. Colonel Danny Morrow explores Joseph’s perspective.

Finally, Commissioner Debi Bell describes Mary’s role in the Easter story. Imagine her eternal privilege as one of the first messengers of the Risen Christ.

The Good News of Easter is for all who believe in the atoning work of Jesus Christ, who said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in Me will live, even after dying” (John 11:25).

Jesus is risen! He is risen, indeed.


Peter

Life is lived in moments. The decisions we make in the moment can last a lifetime. Peter had several defining moments in his life that are recorded in the Bible for us to read and study.

He was a fisherman before he became a follower of Jesus and one of the original 12 disciples. One thing most of us know about Peter is that he was impetuous and guided by his emotions. He was passionate about life and reacted strongly to the circumstances around him.

Following Jesus
One decisive moment changed the course of Peter’s life forever—when he responded to Jesus’ invitation to follow Him. Matthew 4:18- 20 records it this way: “One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. Jesus called out to them, ‘Come, follow Me, and I will show you how to fish for people!’ And they left their nets at once and followed Him.”

Trusting Jesus
Another key moment in Peter’s life involved a miracle. One evening, he and the other disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee in a boat. Jesus had remained behind on land to dismiss the crowds to whom He had been speaking. A strong wind started blowing and the waves tossed the disciples’ boat about. Then Jesus came to them—walking on the water! The disciples, seeing Jesus, thought He was a ghost. They cried out in fear, but Jesus called out to them and told them not to be afraid. According to Matthew 14:28, Peter said, “Lord, if it’s You, tell me to come to You on the water.” Jesus told him to come, and Peter could walk on the water because he trusted in Jesus. But as he walked on the sea, the wind grew even stronger and Peter became afraid. When he took his eyes off of Jesus he began to sink. Peter cried out, “Jesus save me,” and Jesus caught Him. It was a vital moment in Peter’s life, and it taught him to always trust Jesus.

Denying Jesus
Jesus warned the disciples repeatedly about His impending arrest, but they didn’t want to hear it, especially Peter. He maintained that he would defend Jesus in all circumstances, even die for Him if it were necessary. When the disciples gathered to share with Jesus the last supper before He was crucified, Jesus told Peter that he would deny Jesus three times before a rooster announced the dawn of a new day. Peter argued vehemently that he would never deny Jesus.

Luke 22:59-62 reveals that, after Peter denied Jesus twice following His arrest, “About an hour later someone else insisted, ‘This must be one of them, because he is a Galilean, too.’

“But Peter said, ‘Man, I don’t know what you are talking about.’ And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. “At that moment the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Suddenly the Lord’s words flashed through Peter’s mind: ‘Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know Me.’ And Peter left the courtyard, weeping bitterly.”

Jesus’ Forgiveness and His Challenge
Following Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, He appeared to several of His believers at different times. At the Sea of Galilee, Jesus saw some of His disciples fishing but catching nothing. After He told them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat, they caught almost more fish than their nets could hold.

After sharing a breakfast of bread and fish with the fishermen, Jesus spoke personally with Peter. Jesus asked him three times if he loved Him. After each assurance of love from Peter, Jesus told him, “Feed my sheep.” These three assurances from Peter expunged his three earlier denials, and with that Peter’s true ministry began.

The Holy Spirit Empowers Peter
Before Jesus ascended into Heaven following His resurrection, He told His followers, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be My witnesses, telling people aabout me everywhere— in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). As Jesus promised on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples and they were able to speak with power. Peter preached on that day from the prophet, Joel:

‘In the last days,’ God says,
‘I will pour out my Spirit upon
all people.

Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your young men will see visions,
and your old men will dream dreams.

In those days I will pour out my Spirit
even on my servants—men and women
alike—and they will prophesy.

And I will cause wonders in the heavens
above and signs on the earth below—
blood and fire and clouds of smoke.

The sun will become dark,
and the moon will turn blood red
before that great and glorious day
of the Lord arrives.

But everyone who calls on the name of
the Lord will be saved.’ (Acts 2:17-21)

Peter went on to explain that Jesus was the one whom God had sent to them to do miracles, signs and wonders. One such miracle was rising from the dead and ascending into heaven after dying for their sins.

More then 3,000 people responded to Peter’s message. Those who believed in Jesus became members of the Christian church. What a moment! All to the glory of God.

By Major Ed Forster

To read other articles from the Characters of the Easter Story section, see the April issue of the War Cry online HERE or download our app to your mobile device.

Touched Twice in Manitowoc County

Touched Twice, a semiannual event in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, is aptly named. It brings together volunteers from different religious denominations and community agencies to provide families from many different backgrounds, cultures and religious traditions with a range of services. These include haircuts, family photos, clothing, early childhood development screening, school supplies, dental care and—thanks this year to The Salvation Army’s Free Red Shield Medical Clinic—medical screenings. Participants are touched twice because an advocate takes charge of each family to lead them through a maze of agency representatives and information so they can get the services they need, and to teach them about Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world. As advocates get to know their guests and the issues and struggles they face, they can offer counseling and prayer specific to their situations.

“When a community comes together to do good for the less fortunate it is a great experience for all. When faith-based communities come together the God of all creation is lifted high, and His name is exalted to all that participate,” says Lieutenant Jeff Olson, corps officer for The Salvation Army in Manitowoc.

More than 600 people who live in Manitowoc County attended the latest Touched Twice event. “We normally have a table set up of our services so that we can help families with needs or refer them to other agencies,” says Lieutenant Terri Olson, who with her husband leads the Manitowoc Salvation Army. “We wanted to do more. Since our free medical clinic has been open for almost a year, we decided to take our clinic to the people.”

Clinic Director Mary Ellen Beebe gathered volunteer nurses, doctors and nurse practitioners for the event, as well as supplies and equipment. The Army offered medical screenings for each family, in addition to diabetes and blood pressure screening for adults and opportunities to visit with a doctor or nurse practitioner. Clinic volunteers also conducted special screenings for children for visual acuity and stereopsis, including lazy eye (one type of stereopsis). “If not detected by age 10 or 11, this condition can result in blindness in the affected eye,” Beebe notes. Three children were referred for an additional exam and treatment for the ailment. Those who did poorly on the visual acuity exam were referred for further tests. The local Lions Club provided exams and treatment for any who qualified financially.

In addition to vision exams, the Red Shield Clinic saw about 200 adults and children for medical, diabetic and blood pressure screening. Those needing to see a doctor or nurse practitioner were examined and treated, and prescriptions were issued as needed. Lab work was ordered, with results sent to the Red Shield Medical Clinic for follow-up treatment. Pharmaceutical companies provided assistance for obtaining expensive drugs, and guests could sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The clinic also distributed flu shot vouchers.

“Screenings provide an opportunity to identify problems early, when they can be contained,” says Beebe. “The average person has elevated blood sugar for about seven years before they are diagnosed with diabetes. With early identification, it is possible to prevent the transition into Type 2 diabetes.

Many of the guests at the Touched Twice event were referred to the Red Shield Medical Clinic for further treatment. Operated by The Salvation Army and staffed with a physician, nurse practitioner, physician’s assistant, nurse and other volunteers, the clinic is available for any resident of Manitowoc County and is open on Tuesday from 5 to 10 p.m.

Ask Aunt Sally

Dear Aunt Sally: My mom, who was a Christian, killed herself. Is she in Heaven? — Mourning My Mom

Dear Mourning:
I’m so sorry to hear about your mom’s death, and I do understand your heart’s desire to know that she has found happiness in Heaven. The short answer is that only God knows for sure. And He has given no clear direction about this in His Word. What is clear, and repeatedly so, is that only those who have accepted Jesus Christ’s payment for their sins will be able to have a relationship with God. That relationship based in love would see an increasing desire on our part to be more like Jesus, and to live our lives to please God. This is the most important factor in where we spend life after our earthly death.

Well into the 20th century, it was widely believed that suicide was one sin the person could not ask God’s forgiveness for after committing the act and, therefore, they could not receive His forgiveness. That being the case, they would spend eternity in Hell, separated from the Father.

Today, there is a greater understanding of the complex nature of suicide, as well as the fact that God is the only one who can truly know the condition of our hearts. He alone will make that final judgment regarding our eternal home.

It is important to remember that each of us is made in the image of God and that each life is extremely precious. God has a plan for our lives that does not include suicide. As the One who creates all life, God alone has the authority to say when our lives will end. To commit suicide is to put ourselves in the place of God and it is self-murder. Two sins.

Trust God with your mother’s disposition. Leave your concerns about this in His hands. And perhaps you can direct that energy towards those you encounter in your life who may be facing depression and despair. Ask the Lord to increase your sensitivity in this area, so that you may be able to offer them assistance. Do it in memory of your mom.


Dear Aunt Sally: What is your view on prayer? Doesn’t God still know our hearts’ and souls’ needs and wants even if we don’t pray as much as we should? — Curious About Prayer

Dear Curious:
Prayer is an unbelievable privilege and cherished opportunity for those who have accepted Christ’s salvation. It is the ability to walk into the presence of God at any moment in any location and talk to Him on any subject. It is to have fellowship with our Father who is in Heaven. There, through conversations over one’s lifetime, a relationship develops and deepens. Love for the Father blossoms. We increasingly desire to please Him, to be like Him. Our lives begin to be transformed and we start to look more like our Father. Invaluable counsel is found. Opportunities abound for us to bring our concerns, our loved ones, our friends before His throne, to add our voice to others asking for attention and intervention in these areas. HALLELUJAH!

Aunt Sally is happy to provide free personal advice and opinions on a variety of subjects. Need help with relationship problems, spiritual questions, parenting situations? Ask Aunt Sally! Send your questions or comments to Aunt Sally via email at auntsally@usn.salvationarmy.org or by regular mail at Ask Aunt Sally, Salvation Army Publications, 615 Slaters Lane, Alexandria, VA 22313.

Questions appropriate for printing in the War Cry will be answered through this column.