From carney kid to cancer survivor, life hasn’t followed a predictable trajectory for Jim McBride. Nonetheless, this businessman turned pastor and movie producer sees divine purpose in every step.
McBride, a pastor and producer of several popular Christian movies including Fireproof and Facing the Giants, recently completed treatment for prostate cancer at Provision Center for Proton Therapy.
Born in Eden, North Carolina, McBride spent his childhood traveling up and down the Eastern seaboard with his family who operated a carnival business. (He can rapidly reel off the speech of a carnival barker to prove it!) He made a career running cable television companies and then managed Coca-Cola plants, first in North Carolina and later in Georgia. While in North Carolina, faith started playing an important role in McBride’s life, and following his conversion he began teaching Sunday School classes and speaking in smaller area churches.
“I began to think I wanted to be in ministry,” he said. Though initial plans to attend seminary were cut short, still the dream didn’t die. McBride continued to pray for God’s call and eventually left his work at Coca-Cola, with the blessing of the owner, to take a position as pastor of the Christian school associated with his local church. But this was just the beginning of a unique career in ministry.
Two young ministers in the same church dreamed of making faith-based films to rival traditional Hollywood fare. Local church members funded—for $20,000—and served as the entire cast of their first project, Flywheel. “We thought we’d just show it at Easter,” said McBride, and the church requested a screen at the local theater in Albany, Georgia. “It did better than all the Hollywood movies, and the theater company asked us to stay for six weeks. It also showed in surrounding towns.”
Such were the beginnings of a movie series that included additional films, Facing the Giants, Fireproof, and Courageous, each with larger budgets and distribution that ultimately spanned the globe. The ministry grew into the production company Sherwood Pictures, and the Kendrick brothers—whose original vision launched the movie project—are continuing the ministry as Kendrick Brothers Productions.
Each step of McBride’s journey had involved a series of prayers and miracles—and the wake of his prostate cancer diagnosis late last year at age 55 has been nothing less, he said. His doctors found an aggressive form of the disease, which left him anxious to examine all his options as he faced the possibility of dealing with side effects from the required surgery and radiation therapy for decades.
“After my diagnosis, men came out of the woodwork,” he said. “I talked to at least a dozen who had done all different forms of conventional therapy. All were doing fine, but they’d all had side effects. Then I found proton therapy.”
McBride first consulted with the University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute, located three hours from his home. After that, he discovered Provision, which offered pencil beam scanning—a more precise delivery method—and could more quickly work him into the schedule. He was denied insurance coverage by his carrier, Blue Cross Blue Shield, but several friends pooled their resources to pay for the treatment.
Once treatment began, McBride said he appreciated the atmosphere, professionalism, and camaraderie he found at Provision. And through the process, McBride clung to the promise of Isaiah 26:3 – “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You.” Cancer, he said, has become another opportunity for him to trust and share the story of God’s faithfulness with others.
“Provision was a great blessing,” McBride noted. “Every day I say, ‘Thank you for giving me cancer, because it’s given me so many ways to minister to other people.’”