James Spradlin was a businessman in the healthcare industry when God led him to join his friend in starting a new production company. Though he initially handled the business side of the company, James also helped with the production and learned that he had an eye for filmmaking and a passion for telling stories.
The company focused on brand storytelling, but James, as a devout follower of Jesus, eventually felt called by God to something bigger. “These little steps of faith and trusting God and following Hig guidance, when you step back and look at them, you can clearly see this path,” James says. “But when you’re in it, you can’t see it for what it is.” James shared his story during a recent episode of Indigitous PULSE.
God gives James his calling
In 2018, James took on a project for a faith-based drug rehab program. The shoot took him to the wilderness of northern Georgia, where around fifty men met for a retreat, most of them recovering drug addicts and alcoholics, many of them ex-criminals. “I was there to create a story of this transformation that happens when they’re in that program,” James says.
But that wasn’t the only transformation James would capture on that shoot. An encounter with God changed James’s life and career.
One night after James was done filming, he gathered with the other men around a campfire. While everyone prayed together James heard God speak to him in what he describes as a “strange audible but not audible whisper.” God gave him clear instructions about his calling and what he should do with his life going forward.
“He basically said, ‘This is what I want you to do. I want you to enter into the front lines of my work. I want you to enter into the front lines of spiritual warfare. I want you to suffer with other people. I want you to see my power. And I want you to capture it, so you can take it back and you can share it with other people so that they may know me,’” James says.
It was such a turning point that the following day when some of the men in the program were baptized, James had himself re-baptized, to signify his new calling and new life dedicated to serving God through his film and storytelling. At first, James kept trying to make his new vision and calling fit with his current production company, but it wasn’t working, so he decided to start something new. He asked God for guidance. In June 2020, while James was praying the word “altaer” popped into his mind.
“When God gives you things, you get very used to the spiritual smell of it and you know it’s of Him and it’s not of you,” James says. The oddly spelled word from God is a portmanteau from two words:
- Altar: a table or place which serves as a center of worship
- Alter: to change
As soon as James received the word from God, he knew exactly what it meant. God was calling James to bring himself “as a living sacrifice to Him as an act of worship (altar) so that He will use those things to create change (alter),” James says.
In the middle of the global pandemic, James founded Altaer Creative, a storytelling company exclusively focused on helping share God’s story to create significant and lasting change in the lives of individuals, communities, and even nations. Through Altaer Creative, James has made short films that show how to experience God’s forgiveness, how God showed up for someone suffering in isolation, how a group of men are taking on the opioid epidemic. He helped cast the vision for using digital strategies to be able to reach anyone wherever they are on their spiritual journey. He also made the I Am Comfort short film that we’ve shared before.
Finding your calling
James’s calling is clear, but it wasn’t always that way. He started out as a businessman and then became a filmmaker telling brand stories for corporations. But then he asked God for a vision and God answered.
God can do the same for you. Whatever your talents, interests, and passions, God is able to use them for His mission. If you don’t know how to do that, prayer is the best place to start. James asked God for a vision for his life and got a clear answer. It might take time, but if you pray for God to give you clarity about His calling for you, you can expect an answer.
As you’re praying, think about your passions. What do you love doing? What brings you joy? Are there any causes you’re passionate about? Anything broken in this world that you would like to fix?
An answer to these questions won’t necessarily mean starting a new career or launching your own company like it did for James. But it will change your life.
James has seen many lives changed, but his life has been impacted as much as anyone’s. “In my experience in obeying Him in this project, yes, it’s absolutely to help create change in other people, but I’ve been the beneficiary so many times. My life has been changed. My faith has been so much deepened. My vision of God has been greatly expanded through all of this.”