BROOKSVILLE (FBW)—Miami native Robert Amaya, known as Javier Martinez or the “Snake King,” in the movie “Courageous”—thrilled listeners at First Baptist Church of Brooksville Jan. 14 with real life anecdotes and snippets of his unforgettable experience—but reminded them that when production was finished he couldn’t wait to return home to live out his most cherished role, being a dad.
Although the role he played as a father in the movie brought him a screen family and a friendship with four police officers in Albany, Ga.—Amaya begins by telling a story about his 2-year-old daughter, Sophia, and his wife, Colleen. Amidst belly laughs, the overall message was poignant and stern: the world needs more courageous fathers.
“Where are the men who will stand up and be bold?” Amaya asked. “Where are the men who are willing to set an example for the next generation?”
Amaya said his father’s story was a lot like Javier’s. An immigrant from El Salvador, he came to the U.S. with very little money. He started off by working very hard in factories and eventually opened his own carpet business.
“I was raised in a Christian family and that was a huge blessing,” Amaya said. “My father was an awesome role model, he never compromised his principles and he stood on the Word of God.”
Before the night was over, 19 fathers and husbands pledged before God and their families to follow “The Resolution,” a declaration taken from “Courageous.” It consists of 12 statements that challenge men to be intentional about embracing their responsibilities as spiritual leaders of their homes, marriages, and children.
“Men, in one way or another, your actions will be the lens that your children will view themselves with,” Amaya said. “We have to be intentional about our responsibility as Godly men.”
The majority of Amaya’s message came from Ephesians 6:4 and research conducted by the National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI), an organization formed to improve the lives of children by increasing the numbers of dedicated fathers.
According to NFI and data from the 2009 U.S. Census Bureau, 33 percent of children live without their biological father—that’s more than 24 million children Amaya said. The study also found that 87 percent of children in the juvenile system and 63 percent of teen suicides come from fatherless homes.
“This fatherless thing is worldwide, it’s an epidemic,” Amaya said. “The problem isn’t just in the U.S.”
The problem of fatherlessness in Latin America was a topic during a Q&A session at the end of the night. John Feliciano, one of the men who pledged during the event, was thankful for Sherwood’s production and their ability to create not only a movie about good fathers but also their success in shedding a different light than Hollywood on Hispanic families.
“Javier’s point of view in the movie was a little different from normal movies because he was doing all the right things and that was a good thing for me,” Feliciano said. “There are still Hispanic families out there that are trying to do the right thing.”
Also during the Q&A, Amaya was able to provide specific information about Sherwood’s ministry, some advice for aspiring actors, and even a candid reenactment of the “Snake King” sequence from the movie. Cameras flashed and the crowd roared as Amaya held his fingers out like snake fangs and proceeded to act as Javier, the “Snake King,” from the famous scene.
“This year is starting off with a bang with the Robert Amaya event,” said Matt Ellis, the senior pastor of First Baptist Brooksville. With nine community churches helping to fill the sanctuary, Ellis said he was happy to help spread Amaya’s message.
“More than ever, this is a time for guys to act like men—and this is important because we need to call people to not just be men, but to be Godly men,” Ellis said.
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