Reel Reviews | Sound of Hope: The Story of Possum Trot

by Charles Kirkland, Jr.

What happens when a small church in Texas decides to take on the foster care system in their area?  The story is told in the drama, Sound of Hope: The Story of Possum Trot.

On a day when she is racked with grief over the loss of her mother, Donna Martin pleads with God for help and she is given a sign.  Believing that she has heard from God, she embarks on a mission to adopt a child and rescue them from the foster care system.  Soon Donna drags her sister, then her husband, and eventually the entire church on a mission to rescue helpless children from an overwhelming system.  Before long, Donna’s husband Reverend WC Martin joins the mission and begins to recruit the entire congregation to join in. 

Based upon a true story, Sound of Hope: The Story of Possum Trot is written by Joshua and Rebekah Weigel.  The film stars Nika King, Demetrius Grosse, Elizabeth Mithcell, Diaana Babnicova Jillian Reeves, and Kaysi J. Bradley.  Sound of Hope is directed by Joshua Weigel.  It is Weigel’s first feature-length film.

Possum Trot is an independent narrative feature film distributed by Angel Studios. The film was funded entirely by donations so the majority of profits can go to children and families in crisis.  Angel Studios creatively crowdfunds its work so that others have the opportunity to see its films and then asks viewers to “pay forward” that opportunity to others.

Sound of Hope is based on the incredible true story of Bishop and First Lady Donna Martin and their tiny Bennett Chapel church, in the rural East Texas community of Possum Trot, where twenty-two families linked arms and courageously adopted seventy-seven of the most difficult-to-place children in the local foster care system, igniting a national movement for vulnerable children that continues today.

If the story seems familiar, it is because it made national news and was even featured by Oprah Winfrey.  The work of that small church in Possum Trot, Texas created a movement toward the reclamation of the nation’s most neglected, their children.  The film itself fosters the same wave.  It is a statement of purpose inciting everyone who sees it toward the Lord’s work of salvation for those who are neglected, displaced, and forgotten.

The film is extremely well focused upon the mission of Bennett Chapel but unlike other films that have come before it, does not sugarcoat the work.  Weigel does not abandon the feel-good nature of the film’s premise but also juxtaposes the reality of the incredibly difficult experience of raising troubled children against it.  In the film’s honesty lies its strength.  There are more scenes of hardship than there are of joy.  Anger and violence are subtexts for every scene and action yet the families of the church steel themselves through the leading and preaching of Reverend Martin and come even closer together to make it work.

The story is spectacular in its scope and the acting of King, Grosse, Mitchell, and especially Diaana Babnicova whose portrayal of the extremely troubled teenager Terri anchors the tale of woe and triumph.

Negatively, Sound of Hope runs a little long.  Conceivably, a tighter edit could enhance the ability to watch and track the stories within the film.  It is probable though that to tighten the movie, someone’s story might be lost.  Essentially, all the stories are important and connect in the same way that the congregation of Bennett Chapel does.  Interestingly, some things could have been more developed such as the relationship between Martin’s biological daughter and Terri or the impact Bennett Chapel had upon other churches in the area.

Rated PG-13 for thematic material involving child abuse, some violence, language, and brief suggestive material, Sound of Hope: The Story of Possum Trot is a purposeful and driven narrative meant to make an impact upon its viewers and eventually the world.  There is no way that anyone seeing this movie cannot feel the tug toward child rescue through either fostering or adoption.

Sound of Hope: The Story of Possum Trot is screening in select theaters on June 19 and nationwide on July 3, 2024.    

 Grade:  C+