Local pastors discuss Christian/non-Christian friendships

New DVD movie tackles the issue

The pros and cons of spiritual mentoring is the general theme of a new DVD coming out on Tuesday. “A Beautiful Soul,” conceived by Grammy Award-nominated gospel singer Deitrick Haddon, explores the relationship between a Christian and non-Christian.

In this film, Andre Stephens, played by Haddon, has been put in the spiritual pathway of the central Christian character, Chris Scott, played by Robert Ri’chard.

Stephens’ successful musical career makes everything easier for him, and he starts to forget his spiritual upbringing. Finally everything starts to unravel. The plot brings up the question of how involved do you allow yourself to get when you’re trying to help someone?

According to a blog post on www.revelation.com regarding this problem, one blogger recommends that Christians refrain from developing very close friendships. The reasoning is that it makes one vulnerable to falling into the sinful lifestyle of the one they’re trying to reach.

Four area pastors, on the other hand, have a different take on the situation. Following are the perspectives of these spiritual leaders from different denominations and geographical areas. They answered this question: What advice do you think Christians should follow regarding friendships with nonbelievers?

Daryl Ward, senior pastor for 24 years, Omega Baptist Church, 1821 Emerson Avenue., Dayton:

“As Christians we have a mission to try and help save souls. How can we save souls if we don’t know anybody who needs saving?”

Doug Campbell, interim pastor, Resurrection Lutheran Church, 1270 N. Broadway, Lebanon:

“Faith is such that if we only talk to ourselves, how can people see how our faith affects us? If we only associate with each other and people with whom we agree, we’ll make no progress in evangelism or in any other sphere of human interaction,” noted Campbell, who was a pastor at both Peace Lutheran in Hillsboro, and Trinity Lutheran on North Main in Dayton. “That’s part of the problem we’re having in this country. People only want to hear from, and talk to, people with whom they agree.”

John Schlicher, St. Andrew United Methodist Church, 350 N. Fairfield Road, Beavercreek:

“The Christian faith is all about being relational. Authentic Christian faith, lived out on a daily basis means that a believer makes themselves available and vulnerable. Honestly, we need to look no further than Jesus’ example: Who did he spend a lot of time with? We know Jesus was often with individuals who were on the outside. Living a life of discipleship does bring a specific set of values and beliefs which impact our daily lives. The Bible tells us that we are to ‘live in the world’ but not be ‘of the world.’ The pitfall could be found in compromises that one might make. Without a doubt, the greatest blessings that I continue to witness are ever expanding understandings and often transformed lives.”

Jim Duell, St. Patrick Catholic Church, 409 E. Main St., Troy:

“I learned a valuable lesson from my parents growing up. Our home was open to anyone regardless of faith, race, or creed. We sold eggs and seasonal garden produce, so we wanted to be respectful of our customers. Mom and dad always encouraged an open mind,” said Father Duell, St. Patrick’s pastor for the past 8 years. “During a 1992 Mission Awareness Training program sponsored by Maryknoll, I learned not to be condescending or disregard the culture or faith that someone already has. You’re not bringing God to others, because God is already there.”

Background of the film

Deitrick Haddon grew up singing gospel music at the Unity Cathedral of Faith on Detroit’s west side. Unlike many talented gospel singers who eventually turn to R&B, Haddon has clung to his gospel roots.

By the age of 25, his solo debut album, “This is My Story” reached No. 31 on the Billboard gospel album charts. The singer, songwriter and producer is well known for his progressive gospel style. His musical career led to interest in another area — films. “A Beautiful Soul” is his second straight-to-DVD film, following the success of “Blessed and Cursed.” In this second film, there is a dilemma when Chris Scott hangs out at parties and studio sessions where temptations are plentiful.

“I believe viewers of his new film will learn the importance of appreciating those who God has sent to love you during different seasons of your life,” said West Carrollton resident Tracy Y. Williamson, director of promotions/publicity for Tyscot Records. “Through this life lesson, your heart and soul can receive strength to love unconditionally.”

The film will get viewers thinking along the lines of helping others, or maybe getting help themselves.

Haddon is married to singer/songwriter Damita, and they live in Tampa, Fla. Besides singing, producing and acting, he is the associate pastor at Without Walls International Church.

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