In the last five years Nanci and I have come to know and love Benjamin Watson and his wonderful wife Kirsten. For the last fifteen years Ben was one of the most highly respected players in the National Football League, and now he continues to have a ministry to many inside and outside the NFL.
Ben was the first round pick of the New England Patriots in 2004. He was part of the Superbowl Champion Patriots of 2005. Ben also played for the Cleveland Browns, New Orleans Saints, and Baltimore Ravens, returning to the Saints, and finishing again with the Patriots last season.
If you want a glimpse of his athleticism, check out this 2.5 minute video of one of the most unforgettable hustle plays in NFL history.
Ben’s career and the respect he earned from teammates and coaches and fans is a platform God has given him and that he’s already used well, and I pray his voice will be heard for decades to come. After a conference Ben and I attended a year ago February, he was considering retirement from football and we met to talk about possibilities for his next career. I told him that whatever else he might do, it was obvious God had raised him up to be a spokesman for two causes very close to the heart of God that are also two of the most controversial and important issues in American life: pro-life justice and racial justice.
I know many excellent spokespersons for each of those causes, but often the two issues are separated instead of seen as inseparable strands in the same seamless garment of God’s justice. Too many proponents of pro-life justice ignore racial justice, and too many proponents of racial justice ignore the right to life of unborn children. Ben pulls these great causes together better than anyone I know.
I’ve said before that I’ve read well over fifty books related to racial justice and Ben’s book Under Our Skin is the one I recommend most. And now, his strong and heartfelt pro-life commitment has driven him and Kirsten to make a powerful new film called “Divided Hearts of America.” Ben sent me a link to watch it two days before its release on Thursday, September 17. I found it extremely unique, engaging, and moving, and I believe you will too. There are a wide variety of voices and some different points of view, and it includes a few short clips from a discussion Ben and I had earlier this year. I am convinced God will use this film far and wide!
Here’s a description from the film’s website:
A million-dollar budget isn’t much for Hollywood, but Benjamin Watson is hoping that it’s enough to tell a story and bring empathy to a hot-button topic. Venturing onto a new field, the New England Patriot’s tight end has executive-produced and partially self-financed Divided Hearts of America, a look at the debate around abortion in America.
The film is structured around a series of more than 30 interviews with Americans holding opinions from all over the political and social spectrum. Most notably, the film includes interviews with Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the presidential candidate and neurosurgeon Ben Carson.
When questioned about his motivation for the film, Watson describes his goal as “… to unveil the truth about abortion, the laws, the history and where our country is headed. I believe in the sanctity of life, be it in the womb or on your deathbed. That’s my conviction. But with the film, I’ll engage those who disagree and hear their reasoning. The No. 1 thing I’m looking for is empathy on both sides.”
Here’s the trailer:
You can purchase and stream the film at SalemNow.com. I encourage you to consider gathering a group of friends, family, and neighbors and inviting them to watch it with you. Please do all you can to compel others to watch this strategic film!
A good follow up resource for discussion of this issue could be my brand new book Pro-Choice or Pro-Life: Examining 15 Pro-Choice Claims—What Do Facts & Common Sense Tell Us?, which tackles the predominant pro-choice claims head-on but does so in a thoughtful and non-aggressive way in order to reach pro-life and at least some pro-choice readers. Pro-Choice or Pro-Life? is very discussable for one on one, or a small group where a leader could assign one or more chapter per week, and within a few months a group could receive a decent pro-life education. (Consider watching the film to raise the issues in a compelling way, and then using the book to follow up on them.)
The PDF is free, read it online if you wish, and we also offer a free discussion guide. The print version of the book will be available by mid-October from our ministry for an extremely low cost ($1.00 per single copy; 90 cents per copy on orders of 100 or more; 80 cents per copy on orders of 1,000 or more, plus shipping). A single person could purchase enough copies for their entire church, and certainly enough for family and friends and selected neighbors.
Finally, if you want to hear more from Ben Watson, and enjoy his rare combination of pro-life and racial justice passions, here he is:
1) With Focus on the Family, addressing racial justice:
2) At the National March for Life in Washington DC, in 2017, addressing pro-life justice:
I can’t say enough about Ben and Kirsten’s character, integrity, and passion for Jesus. Their family is itself a pro-life statement. Here they are with their seven wonderful children: