SPRING HILL — The movie Fireproof will be the first offering of the year as "John Desmarais Presents: Dinner and a Gospel Movie" kicks off its new season at Spring Hill Bible Church next week.
The ministry, begun in 2007 by Desmarais, an intensive-care nurse, as a "thank you" to God for his blessings, offers a free dinner and movie the last Friday of each month to all who attend. An offering plate is available for those wishing to make a donation.
"I will feed anyone who shows up, and people will be offered (an opportunity) to participate in God's ministry as a freewill offering for those who find in their heart the will to do so," Desmarais said.
"The movies will be shown January through October," said Mark George, assistant pastor at the church. "The focus of the ministry is to provide fellowship for all and to be a ministry outreach to the community."
Desmarais, 57, cooks the meals himself.
"I fix food the Canadian way," said Desmarais, who is from Quebec. "Sometimes we have shepherd's pie or chicken or spaghetti or lasagna. Some of them are from recipes I got from Mom that I multiply by the number of people."
Knowing how much food to make is sometimes a quandary.
"The meal this month is Chinese food. The reason is that it is the opening of the new year," Desmarais said. "A very good movie is being shown, and there is no way for me to know how many will show up. I know that Chinese food will feed many."
Many people would agree about the quality of the film Fireproof. Introduced in September, the Christian film was a box office success and spawned the sale of its popular companion book, The Love Dare, which has been on the New York Times bestseller list in the top three slots for paperback advice books for 15 weeks. The DVD release for the two-hour film is scheduled for Tuesday.
Fireproof stars Kirk Cameron, of Growing Pains fame, in the role of fire Capt. Caleb Holt. Christian film enthusiasts will also know Cameron as the star of the Left Behind film series.
Erin Bethea, a performer at Disney World, plays Holt's wife, Catherine.
The story depicts Holt as a man who lives by the old firefighter's adage: Never leave your partner behind. But his attitude toward his marital partner is another story. After seven years of marriage, the sparks have died and both partners decide they are ready to move on without each other.
What causes Holt to change his mind and work to regain the affection of his wife while finding a new relationship with God is the crux of the film's message.
Being able to show Fireproof is a thrill for Desmarais, who has had some personal tragedies of his own.
"I like to spend my time reaching out to people whose marriage is burning down," he said. "I do not tell them what to do, because I have not been a good example in the past. But I can tell them what God has done and is doing for me. Then I let them judge for themselves what God says, and it's up to God to do the rest. I am just a sower of good seed serving the great master."
Desmarais purchased the license to the film and plans to show it again in the fall. He is also making it available to other ministries.
Desmarais said he chose Fireproof for those who saw the movie, those who always wanted to take some friends to see it, for those who couldn't afford to see it and for those whose marriage or relationship is "on fire."
"I am so pleased to show this movie," he said. "Come and see how God can fireproof your marriage."