“I want to spread the gospel, shape culture” — Emmanuel Iren speaks on new movie

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Nigerian preacher and founder of Celebration Church International (CCI), Apostle Emmanuel Iren, has revealed why he ventured into filmmaking.

Iren is following in the footsteps of his wife, Laju Iren, and has ventured into the world of cinema with his debut movie, ‘What About Us?’, which is set to premiere on July 12.

In an interview on TVC Breakfast on Saturday, July 6, the lead pastor of CCI stated that the venture marks a new chapter in his mission to spread his message and shape culture.

He also stated that churches should adopt various methods to spread God’s word, as long as the platform can raise disciples.

He said, “There is a cultural expectation from pastors. It’s an ironic and contradictory expectation. You even hear some banter out there when people tell men of God, ‘Go and get a real job.’ And when we actually do, they are now asking, ‘Why?’

“Besides that, I just really believe in deploying all my gifts and being the best I can. If God gave me gifts, there must be a reason for it. The short answer is that I’m doing it because I can.

“So many things informed the movie. I just want creative ways to tell true stories. It is obvious that this is a faith-based movie at best, but this is a proper real-life movie.”

The preacher revealed that his children’s exposure to different influences through television also inspired him to create content that aligns with his values.

“There are other ulterior motives, and this is one: my children have a bit of an accent, and it’s not from us. So the reality is that in every home, there are three parents: the father, the mother, and the television.

“So instead of crying and whining about it, be a part of the culture-shaping process. Be a part of the production, not just the consumption,” he added.

When asked about managing his responsibilities in the family, ministry, and new career, Pastor Iren shared his mantra, which he believes has allowed him to organise his life effectively and pursue multiple passions.

He also stated that although he wrote the story for the film, he was present on set only a few times, and the project is one of three movies he shot last year.

He said, “I run with a mantra that ‘create a space for everything and put everything in a space’ and you’ll be amazed at how much your life can be organised.

“For instance, for this shoot, the story is my idea, but for the execution, I think I was on set only twice or three times. I’m even more effective than people know.

“We’re just releasing this one, but this is one of three movies I shot last year alone, and that’s side by side with the album and other things that I do.”

Speaking about the significance of Christian movies, Apostle Iren noted, “There is an aspect to this (Christian movies) that is prophetic, and I’ll just say that any church that is concerned with culture formation has to go to the place where that culture formation happens.

“Don’t be stereotypical, because when God said, ‘Go ye into all the world,’ he was specific about the message, not necessarily the method. As long as disciples are being raised by that platform, you should be interested in it.”

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