Sarah Salter 

Sarah Salter is a graduate of Methodist College with a BA in English. An employee of the NC Church Education Ministries of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church (IPHC), her work has appeared in Methodist College’s Tapestry magazine and Evangel, the monthly magazine of the IPHC. She is a member of ACFW and is currently working on her first novel. Sarah travels regularly with short term medical mission teams, but makes her home in Central NC with her dog, Sadie. Visit her website at

Facing the Giants

With God all things are possible.
Matthew 19:26 (NASB)

Facing the Giants was never on the top of my “To Be Watched” list. I had heard almost nothing about the movie until my friend Kelly invited a group of people to watch it together. The DVD player in the living room broke, so we moved to the bedroom—eleven of us—and piled on the bed, the chairs, the floor, and even the end tables.

There’s something special about movies with sports metaphors: Rudy, Hoosiers, Radio, and Glory Road. They are all powerful movies with powerful messages. And now there’s another one to add to the Sports Movie Hall of Fame—Facing the Giants. I loved this movie! Would it be over the top to say that it was magical? Okay, maybe not magical. But it was incredible. It moved me to tears more than once. And I watched the guys’ reaction to the movie; I wasn’t the only one who was moved.

The story of the making of Facing the Giants is well-known among the Christian community. The script was cowritten by brothers Alex and Stephen Kendrick of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia. With a lot of prayer, a little know-how, and a bevy of volunteers from their church and town, the Kendrick brothers produced and directed this movie. Alex acted in the lead and was supported by an all-volunteer cast that was mostly made up of people from the church.

In Facing the Giants, Coach Grant Taylor has had six losing seasons at Shiloh Christian School. He is trying his best to motivate his talented but apathetic team, and nothing seems to work. A few losses into his seventh season, he finds out that the parents of his players and even one of his assistant coaches are plotting to replace him. On top of that betrayal, his house is falling down around him: his car won’t run, and he learns that he and his wife can’t have children. Surrounded by the giants of fear and failure, he decides to seek answers from God. The answers change him, his family, and his team.

When I first came across the novelization of this movie, I had already seen the movie six or seven times and practically forced all of my family and friends to watch it with me. Soon, I decided that I should read the novelization and see if it was as special as the movie.

The novelization of Facing the Giants was written by Eric Wilson. I had read good things about Wilson’s work. He was the cover author on the August issue of our own Christian Fiction Online Magazine. With a strong script to work with, I knew that the book would be a good read. But would it hold the same magic as the movie?

When you take the movie apart and look at each piece—script, story, characters, and actors—what is it that makes this movie so special and different? For me, it’s the authenticity of the story. The characters were probably the most real of any movie characters I’ve ever seen. They were people that I would expect to see at my own church or workplace. Flawed, normal,

struggling, everyday people who remind me of myself and the people I love. Yet, just when they have been beaten too much and I expect them to give up, they don’t. They stand up and keep fighting. And that gives me hope that I can keep standing and fighting, too.

That’s the magic of Facing the Giants—hope.

My favorite part of Eric Wilson’s novelization is that he took several of the secondary characters and told their parts of the story as well. The greatest example of this was Mr. Bridgers. In the movie, Mr. Bridgers is a man who comes to the school each week and walks up and down the hallways, praying for the students and the school. He speaks encouragement to Coach Taylor when the coach is ready to quit. We see that his prayers and encouragement are pivotal to the changes in the coach, the players, and the school. In the novelization, however, Wilson opens the window to Mr. Bridgers’s life even wider. We see him at his home and with his family. We see that his love and devotion to the school is his mission in life. It colors everything he does, and he completely pours himself out to see the mission completed. Seeing this side of Mr. Bridgers through Wilson’s eyes added a dimension to an already great story and made it even a bit more special.

I enjoyed Wilson’s novelization. It made me laugh and cry all over again. He kept all of the beautiful nuggets that made the movie what it was. However, I have to admit that it didn’t have the same effect on me that the movie did. The best analogy I can give is that even the best sportswriter in the world can’t make you experience the game the way actually being there does.

This month, I have to choose the movie, Facing the Giants, above the book. In many ways, this movie has become a legend in the Christian community. The Kendrick brothers and Sherwood Baptist Church did something that had never been done before. They set a standard and cut a path for other Christian filmmakers and churches to follow. But they also made a movie that provides quality family entertainment while also providing a strong ministry message. This movie is already becoming a Christian classic, and you and your family will absolutely enjoy watching it.