Today, Christianity is changing the face of television with "7th Street Theater," a half-hour series on Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN).
Johanna Jowett and Josh Gaffga, two actors in the series, are making a guest appearance at Showcase Cinemas in Lawrence for the 15th annual Christian Film Festival. The festival starts Sunday, which is Palm Sunday, and runs through Easter Sunday, April 8.
Also coming to the cinema are Christian movie actors Kevin Downes of "The Moment After 2," Tracy Goode of "Facing the Giants" and producer David A.R. White, who travels the country performing a one-man Christian show.
"This is the best lineup of movies we've ever had, and it makes it extra special having the guest stars and producers," said Tom Saab, who founded the festival.
The festival features 12 movies, including "Facing the Giants," "Jesus" and "The Moment After 2," as well as four films for children.
The movies range from drama to suspense, animation to comedy, all with a Christian message. Saab previews 25 to 30 films a year before deciding which to choose for the festival.
"I want to make sure Jesus is lifted up and glorified in the movies," he said.
This year's lineup includes "Behind the Sun," a story of a Muslim man who comes to study in America and converts to Christianity.
"This is an unbelievable, powerful film because of the courage he shows as he takes a stance for Christ in his country," Saab said.
Other movies with powerful messages include "Road to Redemption," which focuses on forgiveness, and "Hidden Secrets," which touches on controversial themes.
"People are going to flip out over this movie," Saab said of "Hidden Secrets, "because of the messages it contains and how professional it was done."
"Jesus," a popular movie returning after a five-year hiatus, was taken directly from the Gospel of Luke and was shot on location in the Holy Land.
"If anybody has questions about Jesus and wants to know the truth about him," Saab said, "this is the movie to watch."
* "Behind the Sun:" A Muslim man who comes to the United States to study embraces Christianity.
r "Facing the Giants:" A winless coach and his team put their trust in God as they deal with challenges on and off the field.
* "Hidden Secrets:"A story of love, friendship, redemption and faith as nine friends find out the dangers of having their darkest secrets out in the open.
r "Holyman Undercover:" A one-man show by David White, a Hollywood actor and producer.
* "Jesus:" A movie about the son of God as told in the gospel of Luke.
r "Movie Star" and "The Heckler:" Two episodes of the series "Seventh Street Theater."
* "Road to Redemption:" Amanda is in trouble after she and her boyfriend Alan "borrowed" $250,000 from her boss. She seeks help from her grandfather, who offers her a deal on the road to Lake Redemption
* "The Moment After 2:" Millions of Christians have disappeared in the rapture. Children's cinema
* "John Bunyan Story:" Animated story about Bunyan, who is imprisoned because he is against the state religion.
* "Larry Boy and the Bad Apple:" Larry is a crime-fighting cucumber who dreams of being a hero when not helping others.
* "Moe and the Big Exit:" VeggieTales give the story of Moses a Western spin.
* "Signs of the Times:" This move chronicles the return of Jesus for children.
IF YOU GO
* What: Merrimack Valley Christian Film Festival
* When: Sunday through April 8
* Where: Showcase Cinemas 1-6, Route 114 at Route 495, South Lawrence
* How: Free admission. Call 978-686-4242 or visit www.christianfilmfestival.org.