Caviezel Shares Fears, Joys in Adopting

Mel Gibson’s “Jesus” Takes in Boy and Girl With Tumors

NEW YORK, MAY 7, 2008 ( Christianity is about living according to faith, even if certain decisions bring paralyzing fear, says actor Jim Caviezel, who played the role of Jesus in Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ.”

Caviezel, 39, affirmed this on a radio program with the Christopher Movement, during which he talked about overcoming fear to adopt two children suffering from brain tumors.

Caviezel and his wife, Kerri, adopted the children, a boy and a girl, from China. But the decision wasn’t easy, the actor acknowledged.

“I was completely terrified and felt like, why; I felt like, ‘Yes, I know you want me to take this child but I feel fear, great fear,'” Caviezel said. “But if I looked in my soul, which I was used to, at that point, I knew that God wanted me to do it. So I felt all the emotions of the negativity, of the burden it was going to … what it was going to do to me.”

Still, he said, the feeling of fear was not unfamiliar: “I also felt that when I was offered ‘The Passion of the Christ’ and I chose that film. I also felt those negative, terrifying feelings when I felt that I was supposed to be an actor; see, and then I also felt that when I met my wife.

“So some of the massive, most important decisions of my life came through huge fear; huge, huge paralyzing fear came. I didn’t want to be one of those people that when I died, that goes to God and says, ‘I want to show you all these gifts,’ — oh yeah, those terrifying gifts, and then you see the fruits of what would have happened if you had chosen.”

Believing strongly

The actor said he considers “real faith” to be the basis of Christianity.

“Without the faith, the belief, believing in those things, miracles, that you are chosen, that you are significant, why even be Christian? That’s when it counts. And when you’re at death’s door and you have great fear, that’s when you are a Christian. You know, you don’t have to say you are. You are,” he said.

“So my wife and I believe strongly in life, that all men are created equal. So it was time to put my money where my mouth was,” Caviezel recalled.

A friend challenged him to prove the authenticity of his faith by adopting “not just any child, but a really disabled child.”

Caviezel challenged back: “And I said, ‘OK, so when I do, will you become pro-life?’ So I adopted this child and I called him up.

“He didn’t make good on his word, but it didn’t matter to me because the joy that we had, have from this child — he’s like our own. I was there with him through the surgery with my wife and we did not know if he was going to live.”

Caviezel explained a little of his son’s history: “This little boy had nothing. He was left on a train. And he grew up in an orphanage. […] He lived there for five years in an orphanage. They were told that they came from the ground, that they had no mommy. That they didn’t come from a stomach, but that they were born from the dirt.”

Harder road

Adopting the little girl was another opportunity for Caviezel to act on his faith, he said: “We actually asked God for a girl and we got a newborn girl, […] but the following day, we got another girl — she was a 5-year-old.

“And she had a brain tumor. We knew that girl would never get adopted and the little baby would. So we took the harder road. And we have chosen that. […] That’s what faith is to me. It’s action. It’s Samaritan. It’s not the one who says he is. It’s the one who does.”

Caviezel said he was speaking about the family’s experience of adoption not to get attention, but to help others to respond to God’s invitations.

“I’m saying this because I want to encourage other people that, yes, you do feel fear, you do feel scared, you do feel that, but you have no idea the blessings you have coming to you if you just take a chance on faith,” he said. “Imagine that, telling a Christian, ‘Why don’t you take a chance on faith.’ That’s real Christianity to me.”

“I’ve been a coward and I’ve learned what that was like, and I never wanted to do that again,” the actor added. “I always ask God for the grace that when the moment comes, and I have to do the big things, […] I ask God every day that I would have the courage … that it all comes together at the right time. I do believe there are times in the day when we are cowards, and what helps amplify that is when we sin.”

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