Elias Acosta writes. He’s a cinematographer. You probably know him as director of the feature length film, Refuge from the Storm. Anyone who’s had the opportunity to be a part of the shoot can tell you, he’s talented, pragmatic, and a helluva lot of fun to work with.
But his higher calling is to share the message of God’s Word by way of film.
Acosta was born and raised in the city of San Juan de la Maguana, in the Dominican Republic.
His dad, a Mennonite Minister, traveled from town to town teaching the Word of God. From an early age, Elias went with him. And what’s not surprising is, wherever they went they brought a movie projector to show films about the life of Jesus from the gospels.
Storytelling remains an important part of who he is today, and why Elias Acosta’s so committed to making films. He’s seen how film can change the way people live their lives.
While still a teen, Elias worked at a studio in San Juan de la Maguana putting together radio programs with the missionaries. They recorded Christian radio programs, which were distributed throughout Latin America.
He later learned the business side of the entertainment industry working as a production consultant at Universal Studio, Orlando, FL.
Elias later studied at Goshen, a Mennonite University based in Indiana. He graduated in the 1980s in two programs: Communications and Pastoral Ministry.
It was at Goshen that Acosta took classes in biblical archaeology. This experience came in handy down the road, when he produced a series for television on The Land of the Bible, shot on location in the Holy Land.
Upon graduating, Acosta assumed the role of Media Director for Latin America with the Mennonite Board of Missions.
He was a member of the committee to start the Hispanic branch of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRP), and the International Christian Media Commission in which he represented all of Africa and Ibero America.
In the meantime, he was getting his masters degree in filmmaking at CBN University.
All of these things have led to his passion today.
Free Access to God’s Word
“My greatest passion is to grant access to anyone interested to God’s Word through film—especially the younger generation. They’ve got a big challenge ahead of them.
“There’s so much for them to do, and as a Christian culture, we’re back to basics.
As Christians, we have got to be fearless about the Truth.
Unfortunately, as a culture we’ve also become passive. But that’s not good enough. We need to show our passion as we promote the Word of God. There’s too much competing for young people’s attention. This is the time to act.
VFI: Why do you think faith-based film is important right now?
Acosta: We need to be the clear voice. We need to promote the Word of God.
VFI: What did you think about Ridley Scott’s film Exodus: Gods and Generals?
Acosta: I think it was great because he did something. I feel it’s a shame that the Evangelical community did not rally around this film. They have no reason to complain since they’re not doing anything at that level.
If someone can learn about God watching a film like this, then the Word is being taught.
VFI: Why do you think Evangelicals have held back?
Acosta: Evangelicals are political. Instead of supporting the Word in the arts, they’ve made it exclusive. I’m not political. It is essential for us to get past the politics, and champion things in our culture that will get the Word into people’s minds and hearts.
The Next Generation
Elias and his wife Mary have raised three beautiful children who are young adults. His daughter, Ana Maria, recently made a trip to Ghana in Africa and taught English to children in a school there.
VFI: That’s really wonderful about your daughter going to Africa and helping children.
Acosta: She thought of it on her own after hearing an Evangelist speak at our church. She worked as a volunteer. Volunteering is important. That’s something I grew up doing. It’s a family value. We care for those who are less fortunate.
My wife and I have taught our kids to think about what would Jesus do?
VFI: Was that with a program?
Acosta: No. We’re sort of wary of programs. Poverty is one of the most prosperous industries on the planet. We supported her independence. She kept costs down and was able to get money to where it was needed.
More on Ana Maria Acosta’s trip to Ghana in our next article.