4th in a series about Christians in Hollywood
August 2005 – Despite the anti-Christian label attached to Hollywood, more believers are seeking a career in the entertainment industry – an area they see as a mission field.
“I can’t tell you how many [Christians have come] in the last five years that say, ‘I feel I’ve been called as a missionary to Hollywood,’ ” said Karen Covell. Covell is a television producer with experience in TV specials, documentaries and children’s programming who recognizes the same calling on her life.
When she and her husband Jim, a composer, entered the entertainment industry, they started realizing that Christians were afraid to talk about their faith. “So … we started a class called ‘How to Talk About Jesus without Freaking Out,’” she said.
A book with the same title soon followed, and evangelism became the basis of the couple’s ministry in Hollywood and remains so today as they continue teaching the class out of their home at least once a year.
“Our heart is to train the people to be bold in their faith and then go right back into the secular workplace so that they can have an impact as they work,” Covell explained.
However, such boldness is void without the power of prayer, which is the driving force behind Covell’s activism.
In 1981, Covell and her husband began meeting with a group of six Christians in Hollywood to pray regularly for the industry. Now 24 years later, the group still meets each month.
As an expansion of the original prayer ministry, Covell sensed a call to build a bridge between the church and Hollywood.
So in 2001, she founded the Hollywood Prayer Network (HPN), “a non-denominational Christian prayer ministry for the purpose of praying for the people, the projects and the powerful influence of the Entertainment Industry,” as defined in a promotional brochure.
Covell, assisted by a small part-time staff, directs the HPN, which functions to encourage and educate Christians outside the industry to pray and to build community among believers in Hollywood. She wants industry outsiders to realize that the contents of films and television programming will not change until the hearts of the people in Hollywood change.
“Changing the product is something that the audience is encouraged by, but changing the hearts of the people here [in Hollywood] is what the Lord is encouraged by,” Covell explained.
Although she sees family-friendly programming as a blessing, an encouragement, and reason to thank God, such projects do not indicate change.
“What will change the industry is to have the Lord change the people, redeem them, bring salvation to those who are the decision makers here … ,” Covell said.
She believes this is best accomplished by praying for, loving and encouraging the industry professionals instead of speaking out against them through boycotts. Although AFA differs with Covell in this regard due to its belief that Christians should be good stewards of their money – thus justifying boycotts – AFA knows and proclaims the power of prayer.
“I really believe that renewal comes through a foundation of prayer,” she added. “I have a passion to track down intercessors and encourage Christians here that they need prayer. …”
Covell is making a valiant effort to insure the entertainment industry is bathed in prayer, as evident from the various facets of the HPN. Being part of the HPN provides Christians the opportunity to get involved through:
• “I to I” Prayer Partnerships – Matching a prayer intercessor who has a passion to pray for Hollywood with a Christian industry professional who wants more personal prayer.
• The Hollywood Crisis – A 15-minute free documentary that shows the need for prayer support in Hollywood.
• Remote Prayer Stickers – A prayer tactic that involves placing stickers on the front of TV remotes as a reminder to pray for the industry.
• Monthly Newsletters – A list of specific issues and projects in the entertainment industry presented as prayer requests and sent via e-mail or postal service.
In addition to its headquarters in Hollywood, the HPN now has 13 chapters in in the U.S. and abroad.
“I often say that the church as a whole looks at Hollywood as Sodom and Gomorrah [in that] it’s hopeless [and] needs to be gotten rid of … ,” she explained. “We look at Hollywood as Ninevah where it will be redeemed. It just needs prophets to come in and tell the truth, proclaim the truth to people here and love them and let them get a chance to be redeemed.”
Therefore, Covell is calling all Christians to take action. They can start by calling 323-462-8460, Ext. 117.
“To join our prayer network, we ask nothing of people except to pray and to pass on the word to others to pray,” Covell continued. “We truly believe that that’s the foundation for revival.”
Second Annual National Media Prayer Breakfast
November 4, 2005
Sponsored by Mastermedia International, Inc., in alliance with Hollywood Prayer Network
Christians in Hollywood series
Take 1: Patricia Heaton
Take 2: Kirk Cameron
Take 3: Ted Baehr
Take5: Sam Haskell III