CHARLOTTE, N.C., November 26, 2003 ( – Hollywood Producer/Director Mel Gibson made a special trip last month to show his new film, “The Passion of the Christ,” to Rev. Billy Graham and discuss the actor’s decade-long spiritual journey that inspired him to a message of love and forgiveness central to the Gospel Mr. Graham has preached for more than 60 years.  “I have often wondered what it must have been like to be a bystander during those last hours before Jesus’ death,” Mr. Graham said.  “After watching ‘The Passion of the Christ,’ I feel as if I have actually been there. I was moved to tears.  I doubt if there has ever been a more graphic and moving presentation of Jesus’ death and resurrection – which Christians believe are the most important events in human history.  “The film is faithful to the Bible’s teaching that we are all responsible for Jesus’ death, because we have all sinned,” Mr. Graham continued.  “It is our sins that caused His death, not any particular group.  No one who views this film’s compelling imagery will ever be the same.”  Mr. Gibson came to see Mr. Graham twice, before and after he had opportunity to screen the film.  In both meetings, the evangelist became convinced of Mr. Gibson’s deep sincerity and great desire that this motion picture be used to bring a new emphasis on those events 2,000 years ago, and their relevance to us today.  Jim Caviezel, who played Jesus, joined in those meetings, and Mr. Graham was impressed with his deep sincerity and the commitment of him and his wife, Kerri, to the Gospel.  “The Passion of the Christ” is set to open in theaters on Ash Wednesday, February 25 – which is the beginning of the Lenten Season, a time when Christians solemnly reflect on Christ’s sacrifice, before celebrating His resurrection on Easter Sunday morning.  Mr. Graham said he believes the timing will add to the spiritual impact this film may have on mainstream audiences.


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