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New movie depicts story of how a small church changed the lives of 77 foster children

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Actor Demetrius Grosse as Rev. Martin in the new movie “Sound of Hope: The Story of Possum Trot,” which will be released in theaters on July 4, 2024. / Credit: Angel Studios

CNA Staff, Jul 2, 2024 / 12:15 pm (CNA).

A new film called “Sound of Hope: The Story of Possum Trot” tells the inspiring true story of a small town in East Texas that came together to adopt 77 of the most difficult-to-place children in the local foster care system. 

The film depicts the lives of Rev. Wilbert Martin and his wife, Donna Martin, their two children, and the families who attend the town’s tiny Bennett Chapel Missionary Baptist Church. 

After the death of her mother, Donna feels God calling her to adopt a child through foster care, which gives her life new meaning and also impacts her husband. Rev. Martin is moved to share their testimony and inspires 22 families in his church to link arms and follow in their footsteps.

“Sound of Hope” will be released in theaters nationwide on July 4. 

Rev. Martin and Donna Martin with their adopted daughter, Terri, in the move
Rev. Martin and Donna Martin with their adopted daughter, Terri, in the move “Sound of Hope: The Story of Possum Trot.” Credit: Angel Studios

Rebekah Weigel, writer and producer of the film, spoke with CNA about her personal experience with adoption and what she hopes this movie will inspire in others when it comes to protecting children.

In 2013 Weigel and her husband — who have five children, two of whom were adopted — began the adoption process. They originally planned to foster and adopt from Los Angeles County, but after getting a call from Colorado asking them if they would consider adopting two kids who had just gone into the foster care system there, the couple said “yes” and the children were transferred to California. Despite it feeling like not the best timing, the couple “felt like God was calling us to do that,” she shared.

“It’s definitely been one of the most challenging things we’ve ever done, but it’s also been the most rewarding thing we’ve ever done as a family,” Weigel expressed.

Weigel’s husband, Joshua Weigel, is the director, writer, and producer of the film. The couple’s personal experience with adoption inspired them to get involved in the movie, which Weigel calls “a heart project” and an “issue that’s very dear to our family and has changed our lives for the better.”

Currently in America there are 400,000 children in the foster care system and 100,000 children waiting to be adopted, Weigel pointed out, urging Christians to take action. 

“We have a foster crisis in America right now,” she said. “And honestly that shouldn’t be the case. We have 400,000 churches in America. We have all the resources, we have people, we have social workers. We have so many churches on every corner we could easily turn this around if the church steps forward and really takes this call.”

She quoted James 1:27, which states: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress.” If more take this verse seriously, Weigel said, “we’re confident that this whole thing can turn around and we can see a movement that ends and clears out the foster system in America and beyond.”

“This is something that’s clearly on the heart of God, and he cares deeply for the vulnerable and for the orphan and the widow, and he’s called the church to care for the most vulnerable and to be his hands and feet on the earth.”

Two of the 77 children who were adopted by families in the East Texas community of Possum Trot. Credit: Angel Studios
Two of the 77 children who were adopted by families in the East Texas community of Possum Trot. Credit: Angel Studios

The film will be released exactly one year after the release of the summer blockbuster “Sound of Freedom.” Weigel explained that Angel Studios, the film’s distributor, believed “Sound of Hope” would be “the perfect follow-up to that.”

“‘Sound of Freedom’ shows there’s a problem and ‘Sound of Hope’ shows that there’s a solution,” she said. “And there is a solution. The solution is us. We need good people to step into the fight and really fight and be advocates for these vulnerable children.”

Weigel said she hopes that viewers will have “God move their hearts through this film and they step out and start to really care for kids the way that we’re intended to do.”

She explained that at the end of the film, the real-life Rev. Martin and Donna Martin will invite viewers to join the fight for children and guide them to an impact site where people can get involved with meeting the needs of vulnerable children and families through a platform called Care Portal

“This is something that is on God’s heart — that he’s commanded his people to do is to care for the vulnerable,” Weigel said. “The churches have so many resources and so much potential. On every street corner we have a church in America that can be caring for kids and caring for families and wrapping around them with support. So we want to see the faith that we all have be expressed in practical ways.”


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