According to Chonda Pierce, a best-selling Southern comedienne with an audience of 1.5 million nationwide, a private screening of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" in Nashville, Tenn., shocked the country music world.
“I don't think I have words to convey to you the overwhelming observations last night at the movie,” she wrote in a personal testimony on her Web site.
The private screening was attended by about 200 of the biggest names in Nashville’s country and Christian music world, including producers, songwriters and artists.
The movie began after an opening prayer. “As the story unfolded and the brutality of what we were watching set in people were moaning. I will never forget it,” she wrote.
Pierce said she had invited her pastor and her brother to the screening, both of whom have dedicated their lives to evangelization. “Several times I saw them wipe tears away, stir in their chairs…. It was incredible,” she said. Pierce admitted that she too was moved to tears.
When the movie was over, no one moved, she said. “It was as if the room could not take a breath. There were no words – silence,” she wrote. “A few minutes later, a man stepped up to the microphone as they slowly turned the lights on and quietly asked: ‘Do you have any questions?’ Still silence. He broke the ice by saying: ‘Well, maybe Mel could answer your questions.’ And in walked Mel Gibson, less than 10 feet away. He was incredibly humble yet excited as he took the microphone and sat on the edge of the stage.”
As Gibson walked in, the room erupted with applause and shouts of gratitude, reported Pierce.
“It's a brutal movie. It will be rated R and half the Christian community will stew over that!” she said. But Pierce said Gibson's comment about the brutality and the rating was: “If you read the Bible, the whole thing is pretty much rated R!”
When Gibson was asked what his goal is for the movie, Pierce reported him saying: "I hope they watch the movie and want to read the book! I hope they are changed."
When asked why he spent $30 million of his own money to make this movie despite his opposition, he said: "It was time. I just had to do it. It was just time for it come out."
“I, for one, will love stronger. Work harder. Live bolder, embracing the sacrifice made for my sins. I am changed forever. Don't miss this movie,” Pierce wrote.
The comedienne plans to promote the film on her Web site and in newsletters to the people on her database. “The Passion of Christ” will be released Ash Wednesday, Feb. 25.