Thanks for the Stories, Joe.



by Sarah Farver (Public Relations)


Life is full of lessons. Some are sweet, and others are hard and raw, but when you see someone make choices to love someone sacrificially, it communicates volumes about that person. I have seen it in parents who feed and dress their 23 year old son day-in, day-out, after his car was broadsided and he suffered extreme brain damage. I have seen it in a faithful young husband who cares for his chronically ill bride. I have seen the loss of parents when they lose a child. Loss wears a lot of different faces.


When the right person hears a story, they want that story to impact others the way it impacted them. That’s where Joe comes in. Whatever story he sees, he tells in his own way.  I have had people ask why Saddleback has a filmmaker-in-residence and why a leather company feels the need to tell stories.  The truth is, stories shape us and cause us to evaluate what we hold as important. By telling stories, we are sharing a bit of what we value, and letting that shape our thinking.. Telling a story is something unique to humans and letting those stories move us and reevaluate what we hold dear is a significant part of their value.


Joe met Kwasa Liste and told his story in a film called Life After Death. Kwasa was on his mother’s back when she was killed in Rwanda’s genocide and his life has been a journey of figuring out his own response to that horror. It impacts the man he has become, all these years later. It’s a hard story, but there is beauty in it, too.


Later Joe tells the story of Grace and Patricia, who daily navigate life with Type 1 diabetes in Midnight,Three and Six. Patricia is Dave’s sister and Grace is his niece. It’s a story we know well here, but one thousands of people have to live with daily as diabetics. It’s an important story about a mother’s ferocious love.


Most recently, Joe got to know his fiancé’s grandparents. After being married for 63 years the husband faithfully goes to see his wife at an Alzheimer’s care facility and comb her hair. Because sometimes following through on a commitment of “til death do us part” looks like this, and it’s  beautiful.


My goal in making this film was to capture this simple act of love at the end of life, “ Joe said. “I believe one of the most basic acts of love is just to keep showing up, always and unconditionally. Sometimes the best you can do is to let somebody know they are loved, not alone, and not forgotten.” Check out Late December as featured by The New York Times. 


Stories help us look at the world through someone else’s eyes. I think that’s part of why we love a good story– it moves us and stirs us in our core. Looking at all that is broken in the world today, maybe that’s something we could use a bit more of.