Jennifer Garner, Queen Latifah and Kylie Rogers star in the movie Miracles from Heaven.

CNS PHOTO | COLUMBIA PICTURES

Jennifer Garner, Queen Latifah and Kylie Rogers star in the movie Miracles from Heaven.

April 4, 2016
JEAN KO DIN
THE CATHOLIC REGISTER

Nine-year-old Annabel Beam suffered from an incurable digestive disorder that put her in constant pain. But when she fell 10 metres, headfirst, into a hollowed tree, she came out of her ordeal unharmed and healed of her disorder.

Oh yes, and she also had an encounter with Jesus in heaven.

It's a miraculous story that has been turned into a film, Miracles From Heaven, with Jennifer Garner playing Annabel's mother Christy. Kylie Rogers plays the role of young Annabel.

Miracles From Heaven is based on the best-selling memoir of the same name written by Christy Beam about Annabel's miraculous healing and her account of an encounter with Jesus.

Beam told The Catholic Register that, at first, she was nervous about making her story into a film. But her concerns were erased when she met with producer DeVon Franklin.

"We had the same vision and that gave me a lot of peace," she said.

Beam said a large part of that peace came from Garner's performance. Garner digs deep into the emotional turmoil of a mother in this film. Her character runs through different levels of frustration, helplessness, stubbornness and fear that will keep the audiences hooked.

Beam said although the film is not an exact retelling, the heartbeat of the story is preserved.

The film is more than just what Annabel saw when she died and went to heaven. It is more about the family's journey.

From the time she was four years old, Annabel had suffered from two digestive disorders that put her on 10 different medications. She was in constant pain. She couldn't digest her own food and received her daily nutrition from a feeding tube.

Beam was travelling back and forth from the family home in Burleson, Texas, to Boston where Annabel received her regular treatments. Annabel's father, Kevin, stayed home with their two other daughters and worked double shifts at a veterinary clinic to pay the bills.

Beam said she wrestled with her faith constantly as she watched the family struggle through their trials. But unlike the film, she said she never lost her faith. Instead, she leaned on it when things got tough.

In 2011, Annabel told her mother that she wanted to die so that she could go to heaven where there is no pain.

"When she said that to me, I don't know if it was just him speaking to my heart but I had a very clear revelation," said Beam. "As much as I love Annabel, he loves her that much more. . . . It just became very clear that he wasn't sidelined, just watching us."

GOD IS CLOSE

Beam realized, looking back on the family's turmoil, that he is not a distant God. In fact, she discovered that even before Annabel fell through that hollowed tree, God had been bringing them small miracles and the people that walked with them throughout their journey.

"That's where the title came from," she said. "So many things happened that was God's hand, . . . looking back as I was writing the manuscript and seeing all those things unfold."

Beam said since then, the family has lived every day as a miracle. Annabel is now 12 and has been healthy since her fall.

Beam hopes audiences will walk away from the movie inspired by God's hand in all things.