It is in Raymond Harris’ nature to build things. He is an architect by profession, designing large retail and commercial buildings. The kind of structures that are important to the country’s economy. The kind of structures that are a big deal and have made Raymond successful financially. But now Raymond and his wife, Marydel, are using their wealth to help build other important things.
Raymond and Marydel are partners with moviemakers Jon and Andrew Erwin. October Baby, Mom’s Night Out and their most recent release, Woodlawn, are all films made by the Erwin brothers. More important than their financial successes, these movies take the gospel and Christ-centered narratives and distribute them like Trojan horses in a way that is not particularly mainstream in Christian circles.
“This is the Roman road of the 21st century,” said Jon Erwin. “This is America’s second-largest export.” And it remains, along with television, one of the most difficult mediums in which Christians can create art. One reason for this is that it is very expensive to make films of the caliber the Erwins want to be successful. Over 1,000 movies have been made (most of them in the last 25 years) with a budget of $50 million or more. Raymond Harris, quite contrary to the majority of Hollywood, sees his business ventures as a way to properly steward what God has provided.
The Harrises connected with the Erwins nearly a decade ago when they helped fund a short-film project that the Erwins were freelancing. Raymond was on the board of Crown Financial Ministries, which produced the films. The brothers had previously worked as cameramen for ESPN. “We didn’t really know what we were getting ourselves into, and [Raymond] just stood beside us and was empowering as a real believer in us,” said Jon. “We struck up a friendship.”
“With every great movement of God, there’s a leader we remember. But what we don’t know is there’s always some sort of financial benefactor that’s empowering the work. Every time the world has changed, those two always go together.”
Since then, the Harrises have offered emotional support, wise counsel and financial backing to the Erwin brothers as they make movies with gospel-centered themes, providing what Jon calls “a way to share the gospel wider than it’s ever been spread and faster than it’s ever gone.”
“We have the numbers and the resources to get a generation back and to share the gospel with the world,” said Jon. “It’s so great to see people like Raymond and Marydel step up. With every great movement of God, there’s a leader we remember. But what we don’t know is there’s always some sort of financial benefactor that’s empowering the work. Every time the world has changed, those two always go together.”