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For King + Country and Rebecca St. James Discuss Unsung Hero with Focus on the Family

As the Family Ministry Resource Partner of Unsung Hero, the For King & Country film opening in theaters nationwide April 26, we at Focus on the Family recently sat down with the band – brothers Luke and Joel Smallbone – and their big sister, Christian music artist Rebecca Saint James.

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Here are some of their insights about the true story of how and why their family left their native Australia for America in the early 1990s – and why they decided to make a major motion picture about the journey that spotlights the importance of family.

Joel Smallbone co-wrote, co-directed, and starred in the film, portraying his father David. He shares about the daunting challenges that brought their family to the states.

“What do you do when you have these experiences and you need to go back and relive them, even on behalf of someone you love?” he pondered. “So, in the past, I feel like I’ve been pretty lazy with our parents’ story because while Rebecca was 14 when we moved, I was seven and Luke was five. It was just this adventure.

“But I’m now roughly dad’s age when we moved. And all of a sudden you go, ’oh my goodness.’ Six kids, one on the way, moved his wife over here. No insurance, loses his job, no car, no furniture, no way to get home. So, the amount of empathy that it gave me for him, like there’s a stake in the ground for me in our relationship that was that production of Unsung Hero. And I don’t think I’ll ever look at our journey or him in the same light.”

Luke agreed that revisiting the journey as adults offered a fresh, meaningful perspective.

“Dad (a noted concert promoter) brought a tour over to Australia. It didn’t go very well,” he said. “We lost everything, right? Lost the house, lost the car, lost the life savings. And he gets a job offer to come to Nashville, Tennessee. He thinks it’s a good idea to move his six kids. His wife is six months pregnant. And we come to America. We land. My dad loses that job.”

“We’re in a load of hurt,” he adds. “We’re sleeping on beds made out of clothes. We didn’t have any way for our little sister to be born in a hospital. Didn’t have a car, weren’t quite sure where the next meal was going to come from. And one of the things that was cool about just being a child in that process was we literally didn’t know what else to do other than just gather around our living room, and just start praying for these essential things.

“And you always hear if you want your family to follow in the footsteps of what you believe in following Jesus, there needs to be evidence of what that faith looks like in your family. And so, for us, we would go around, and we’d be like, ‘God, we need rent.’ And then, all of a sudden you would see rent show up, the local church would come, and they would write us a check to cover our rent.”

Rebecca believes that what was really impressive about their parents is “how honest and vulnerable and therefore courageous they were in sharing with us how down to the wire we were.”

“I mean to admit to your kids, ‘This is really challenging, and we need to pray.’ That’s very humbling for parents,” she says. “But they were prepared to talk about the need because we could go to God together and we could come through this time together.

“There’s a real power in that vulnerability.”

To hear more about the Smallbones’ journey from Joel, Luke, and Rebecca, listen to Focus on the Family with Jim Daly, and to explore family ministry resources from Focus tied to the film, visit’s the Unsung Hero Journey

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