"I relied on the unholy trinity of me, myself and I..."
Dr. Chad Constantino is a christian counselor and head of the Abundant Life Counseling Center in Kernersville, NC, where he counsels children, teenagers, men, couples and families. On Fridays, he visits schools where he imparts to the students the importance of self-esteem and anger management, as well as honoring the authorities above them. Chad also founded Waiting on the Warrior: a non-profit organization, and Abundant Life Films: a production company that makes faith-bases, positive films.
Would love to hear a bit of your testimony! Have you always been a believer?
I grew up in a Christian home and gave my heart to Jesus as a teenager. I am so grateful I grew up in a Christian home, but I did not have the discipleship needed nor did I learn about the Holy Spirit. I continually fell away and went back forth.
When did you develop a passion for entertainment?
My mom is the big influence in my life for entertainment. Mom was always involved in drama ministry and entertaining people. So from the time I was a young child, I would watch and learn from her. I grew up in a house full of kids. We didn't have a lot of money so we had to find ways to entertain ourselves. We would make up our own stuff. Hebrews 12:13 tells us we need to be prepared because at any time we could be in the presence of an angel and entertaining an angel. I remember one time walking up my grandparents stairs and having the thought that one day I'd like to be an entertainer and make people laugh and feel good.
You also have your PhD in counseling. How did you transition from that, into entertainment?
I actually threatened a teacher my sophomore year of high school. The school, instead of expelling me, asked my parents to get me some help. I went to a Christian camp, where I got a lot of counseling. It changed my life, and it's where I gave my heart to Jesus. Not only did I get help, but God started using me to help other people. When I went back to school, I started telling people about Jesus and I started counseling my friends.
After high school, I went on to college and spent 8 years in higher education, ultimately obtaining my Doctorate. Loved the people. Loved the schools. But I had no one teaching me about the Holy Spirit - about His gifts, and who He is; about His purpose and His power. So I did okay at times, but I would still fall away. So through getting counseling, I learned I wanted to be a counselor.
I'm so honored to be able to witness thousands of people's lives changed. So many people that were going to commit suicide decided not to commit suicide. So many people that were going to have abortions did not have abortions. So many people that were addicted to major drugs went into our program and were set free. And of course, lots and lots of people give their hearts to Jesus.
I cannot say I transitioned from counseling to entertainment because I do both. However, for many years I was focused just on the counseling. One day, I was at a church and this man walked up and asked me a question - a question that changed my life forever. He asked if I would consider portraying Jesus Christ in a drama they were doing. Well, I had never done that before. I was very humbled by the offer and even felt so unworthy I was going to turn it down. But it was something so powerful.
It was Halloween and instead of the church doing a haunted trail they did a Hallelujah Trail. I thought that was an amazing, incredible idea and I was willing to do. I didn't find out until later that I would be portraying Jesus hanging on the cross. So, for four hours I was up on a cross reciting everything Jesus said scripturally while He was on the cross. It was during that time I realized I had gotten far away from my passion which is drama ministry. I just wept and wept and told the Lord I wanted to get back to doing this passion He had put in me and had given to my mom. I told Him I wanted to do this for the rest of my life. And on that cross He gave me a vision of a script that became Waiting on the Warrior.
What has been one of the biggest challenges you have faced in life?
One of the biggest challenges of my life was when I made a decision to confess my sins knowing it would cost me; knowing people would be hurt; knowing people would be disappointed and ashamed. But, the transition was this. I had been living a lifestyle of acting where it was a double life. I was being a hypocrite and living in secret. I was battling some things, having struggles and not telling people the truth about those struggles.
When I confessed, it cost me dearly - it cost me a whole lot. But, I no longer had to live a lie. I no longer had to pretend. I no longer had to live the act. Instead it flipped. Instead of sowing acting into my life as a lifestyle, I reaped a harvest of a passion for drama ministry which had been lost. It was this beautiful gift from God. Even though I lost so much in the natural, I gained much more in the supernatural including the passion that He has given me to no longer live a fake life but live the life He's given me which includes a drama ministry.
How did Christ help you to overcome this challenge?
This has been one of the greatest teachings in my life because the Holy Spirit is who taught it to me. No one else did. In John 16, verse 7 Jesus says, “It is better for that I go for then I can send you the Holy Spirit. But if I do not go I cannot send you the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is who comforts us. He is our helper, our advocate, our counselor. The Holy Spirit taught me during the most difficult years of my life to rely on Him.
He taught me that I had relied on me - that I had relied on the unholy trinity of me, myself and I. I had been seduced by the powers of darkness into buying into the wrong type of lifestyle. The Holy Spirit taught me about spiritual warfare. Now, no exaggeration, I teach on spiritual warfare seven days a week.
I meditate on it, I teach on it, I study it. I also teach on the Holy Spirit. I have so much more to learn. I love writing about spiritual warfare; writing about the Holy Spirit and teach people of all ages about both. It is through that He has strengthened me to help so many others. I know that no credit goes to me. All credit goes to Elohim, Father God; Yeshua, Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God from Nazareth and to Ruach Ha-kodesh, the Holy Spirit.
How do your passions for counseling and producing/acting/writing tie together?
I work with so many people of all ages and backgrounds, I get to hear constant testimonies and see God flip people's stories for His glory all the time. Through that I will speak a script over someone. Not literally to make his or her life a movie but I will prophesy. It is beautiful to watch the people that believe that and to watch it actually happen. It really is like writing the chapters of their future.
The Holy Spirit will give me a word to speak to someone or direct somebody and then as I am teaching people how to change the way they talk of how to overcome something, I am directing them. I drive my family crazy because I am constantly writing in notebooks. There are notebooks ever where! Writing is something I love to do spiritually and for therapy.
When did you first hear about AMTC?
AMTC is something I had heard about on WBFJ Christian radio station. My daughter, Eavan, and I went and auditioned. I did a drama monologue and the Lord really blessed that. Then she and I did one together. It was a huge hit. I wanted so bad for us to go through AMTC together. The Lord had just me do it. She and my entire family have been by my side the entire time and have helped me in incredible ways on this journey. I wept after she and I completed the audition process. I love being able to share in these moments with my child, my children and my family. AMTC has been a great joy in my life.
Walk us through the process of AMTC and SHINE. What was it like? What did you learn most?
I learned a lot about myself. I learned of weaknesses I needed to improve. I learned how important it was to have my family's support and help. What happened as I went through the process was spiritual warfare though. I had trained for months. My goal was to meet with Sherwood Films when we went to Florida for the auditions. Everything was going great with training and I was striving to do everything AMTC had instructed me to do. In Florida, I was able to do my monologue and I felt like it was blessed.
That first night there I get a phone call from my wife telling me my youngest child, Abigail, who was 2, had something happen. She told me it would be ok, not to worry and that I did not need to come home but Abigail would be going to the hospital. I just did not understand. She was having a form of seizures. I was so upset at the powers of darkness I just wept.
I got off the phone with my wife around 10:00 at night, got on the floor on my face and prayed and prayed and just cried. I knew this was confirmation that Satan did not want me doing drama ministry. I vowed right then on the floor on my face that I would use drama ministry for the rest of my life to spread the Gospel and make a difference in this world.
I then packed up my stuff and left after telling AMTC. I left around midnight to make the 10 hour drive home. God showed me tons of grace on that journey. I fell asleep at the wheel several times and God spared my life. I got to my house just in time to get my daughter to the hospital for her appointment.
I received a wonderful phone call from AMTC and they let me come back for six more months of training and go through the process again. The Lord just blessed it. Six months earlier I wasn't doing anything with comedy. I was doing drama, commercials and modeling. When I came back, five people advised I do comedy.
And praise the Lord, I did and won overall standup comedian. Everyone was laughing and I came off the stage in tears. I was just amazed and humbled at what God was doing with all of this. I had some amazing opportunities handed to me- people from all over wanted me to sign with them. I was so blessed and excited.
When I told my family, all of my kids started crying because they knew Daddy was getting ready to leave. That scared them. They begged me not to go. I end up back on my face crying and asking the Holy Spirit what He wants me to do. He has handed me my dream but I see that I can't leave my family. The Holy Spirit just put it on my heart to do something right where I am and not go anywhere.
I didn't know anyone doing any productions in and around my town. Well, God began telling me to do them. That started the next giant step of faith in my life of writing scripts, producing, directing, acting and turning those films into books and devotionals. It's just been one step of faith after another. Through the Holy Spirit, you can do these things - through His strength; not your strength.
What was one powerful moment in returning to SHINEthe second time?
One of the neatest moments at AMTC was when I got the callbacks and Sherwood Films, who I was originally hoping to see. When I told them what had happened the previous time about my daughter, they looked at me and said “Chad, we weren't even able to be here six month ago. So, if I had stayed when my daughter was ill, I would not have even had the opportunity to meet them.
It just should me the Holy Spirit's hand and where satan meant something for evil and God used it for good (Genesis 50:20). Not only did I get to meet Sherwood films at the second attempt and build a beautiful relationship with some of them, I was able to connect with Erin Bethea who was in Fire Proof and other Christian films. I was able to share the Waiting on the Warrior script with her and, praise the Lord, she agreed to be in the film. What a blessing she has been in our life.
I really thought I was ready when I went through AMTC. But the Holy Spirit showed me there is a lot of stuff he has still been dealing with in my heart. I'm not going to be prideful and tell you I'm ready now. As you go through the journey with AMTC, they grow and stretch you. I am so blessed and so honored to have Carey's blessing on my life and what I'm doing.. She has had a great impact on my life through hearing her testimony, seeing her humility and having fellowship with her in AMTC. She will never know how much she has done for me with her friendship and her being a mentor in my life. I love Ms Carey so much. She is witnessing to so many people and her devotionals have an impact on so many people's lives. I hope and pray she will be able to continue doing that.
How did you come up with the vision for Abundant Life Films?
I oversee Abundant Life Counseling Center. The goal is to help people have favor in their life; to have an abundant life. That's the theme of all the things I'm involved in - Abundant Life Outreach Center, Abundant Life Ministries; everything the Holy Spirit has made e steward over. It just made sense that any production ministry or production company would be called Abundant Life Films. The goal is to teach people how to have an abundant life, to teach people how to reach their dreams, to teach people how to have favor, favor, favor. And to let them know that Jesus has said "I've come to give you life and give it more abundantly." And even though Satan does come to kill, steal and destroy, Jesus teaches that we have authority over the powers of the enemy.
Tell us about Waiting on the Warrior? What is this about?
The film, Waiting on the Warrior, is about a man, David, that has a hard core past. He has made a lot of mistakes. It's a story about redemption and forgiveness; about what it takes for David to surrender to the Lord and do it His way. It's about how David has to accept God's forgiveness through Jess but also get to that place of forgiving himself and being able to forgive others. It's a story that hits home for me because a lot of the character I portray is very real to me. The emotions are real. The journey of forgiveness is real. Three different police departments, a hospital, a fire department, biker gangs, airplane scenes - there was a lot of big production value. There were hundreds and hundreds of extras. It was an amazing journey we had to go on to make this film. It was a lot of hard work. There were a lot of changes. The Holy Spirit did a work in everybody. The gentlemen that portrays the bad guy in the film gets saved on the set, goes into a program and really does get his life in order. That's what's so amazing - how true it came to life. Now that gentleman actually works for a Teen Challenge program helping adolescent males.
The courtroom scene is a scene that really gets to me. One, because it is about adoption but it is also a scene were David has to talk about forgiveness in answer to a question the judge asks him. Normally before a scene, I will go pray in the Spirit and prepare myself in the spirit so that when it's time to film, it's all ready to go and it comes out beautifully. In this situation we were at the courthouse and there wasn't much privacy. Filming was going great but I was so focused on everyone else's scenes that when it came time for mine, I knew I was doing too much acting.
We did one take, two takes, three takes and it just wasn't right. I was going to move to another scene and come back to my take. But, I started praying asking the Lord, asking the Holy Spirit, to help me because I knew what I was saying was too much of me and not enough of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit whispered and reminded me - not to guilt me, not to shame me but just to remind me - how much I have been forgiven of. And reminded me of the people that have forgiven me. We did another take and the scene was real – those tears were so real. As I forgive others in my life, people ask me Ã¢â‚¬Å“How do you do that?Ã¢â‚¬Â I will just be honest with them and tell them of one of my favorite passages in which Jesus says, Ã¢â‚¬Å“those who have been forgiven much love much.Ã¢â‚¬Â I know how much I've been forgiven and so I want to love and forgive others.
Also, tell us about Color Blind?
The film Color Blind is about love, laughter and being the light of Jesus. I love comedy. I do. I love comedy that is clean. I am into slapstick comedy. I know some people aren't but I am. Children love it and I love making kids laugh. The Holy Spirit gave me this character Grunderson. To this day, I don't know all the reasons why. I just know that every time I portray Grunderson in a skit, drama or anything we are working on, the kids embrace him. I will go out into the community as Grunderson and people believe he is real. They don't realize I'm acting.
My prayer is to one day do a reality TV show using Grunderson and possibly other characters the Lord has given me. I know it sounds silly that the Holy Spirit would give me comedy character but remember we are created in the image of God. God is the creator of joy. He is the creator of silliness. He tells us to be child-like. Grunderson is child-like; he's just a big man-child. All he knows how to do is love so he loves you. He's very literal – if you say something he takes it literally. He is a walking evangelist. He takes any situation and makes its spiritual. Color Blind was so much fun to film because of all the silliness and love.
What is the biggest message you want portrayed and communicated through your films?
One of the things Abundant Life films wants to express and teach is how to walk in the favor of God. The Bible says in James 4:6-10 that He favors the humble. Through humility, through obedience, through honoring the authorities above you and through meditating on the word of God - God says in Joshua 1:8 that if we will meditate upon the word of God day and night and be careful to obey what is written it we will prosper and succeed in whatever we will do. Revelation 1:3 says that all those who meditate and read and believe the prophesy of this book will be blessed. There are several things the Lord has shown me that bring His favor. Abundant Life Films is a platform of evangelism.
The films were actually made for the Christian networks. We are just getting connected with the networks now. Parables TV has agreed to show the films which will open the door for other networks to do the same. We are a non-profit organization. Any money made on these films will be put towards making the next film or the next book. It is a very different and unique approach to film making and the Lord has blessed it.
I want to be able to show people we are under the grace of God. We are not under the law, we are under the new covenant. And with that it's about God's love and God's grace. When you walk in God's love and grace and you model that to others, you will win them to Jesus. There is just a world of hurting people out there. I get to see people set free all the time by loving them.
How do you tie this into counseling?
For the longest time I was discouraged because I could not figure out how I could tie more acting into my life if I'm always so busy running the addiction program, counseling individuals and families and running all the ministry stuff. The Lord has let me partner by using the drama ministry in all those areas. When I do stand-up comedy for people in our group programs for drug addictions, they laugh so hard. That laughter opens doors for me to teach them about spiritual warfare and the Holy Spirit. I would not be able to make those connections if I tried to sit and preach to them. I want to encourage everyone that has a dream of acting to use it first in the church. You reap what you sow. Galatians 6:7-9 tells us you reap what you sow. If you sow in the flesh you reap a harvest in the flesh of bad things; if you sow in the Spirit then you will reap blessing. If you love to act, give it away though drama ministry in the church. If you love to write, give it away though writing Christian songs, Christian poetry or sermons. Use it for His glory and watch what he does.
What are your upcoming plans?
We are working on a documentary called "Set Free." It's about families dealing with substance abuse. We are going to different Teen Challenge programs, filming testimonies and it's turning out beautifully. The next step is a movie, which I'm finishing up the script for. It's about three different families dealing with substance abuse. The storyline walks the journey of each family making different decisions on dealing with the substance abuse. I'm very excited about this project. We're also working on more comedies. We're writing a spiritual warfare series right now and devotional books on the Holy Spirit and more children's material.
We are praying for the Lord to open a door for us right now for a reality TV show either about my life where we tie in standup comedy with the work of the counseling center, the motivational speaking I do at schools and the work I do with the courts or a comedy program for children.
I want to be able to train up young people to make films and do standup comedy and be actors. We all have that standup comedian inside of us. We all have that actor in us. All it takes is someone to coach, mentor and direct that person to bring it out. One of the ways I do that is through teaching self-defense. I know that sounds very strange but it works. It empowers you. It encourages you. It's amazing what you are able to do with a person who thinks he can't act or doesn't think he can do some other thing if you teach self-defense. It's amazing how it brings that warrior out. Helping someone who is already a believer to gain a relationship with the Holy Spirit and seeing what the Holy Spirit can do.
Ephesians 3:20 says God can do infinitely more than we can ever dare ask or think or pray according to the power at work within us. That power is the Holy Spirit. Philippians 4:13 says we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. The way Christ strengthens us is by giving us the power of the Holy Spirit. I encourage you, I beg you to seek after the Holy Spirit as your best friend. Go after him as that treasure you seek more than anything else and watch how your life changes forever. Go after your dreams. Every day remind yourself that you are blessed and highly favored because you are a child of Elohim, God the Father. You serve the King and Savior, Yeshua, Christ Jesus of Nazareth and you have the great mighty counselor, Ruach Ha-kodesh, the Holy Spirit. Through them you are blessed and highly favored. You don't' need to walk in fear. Remind yourself daily that they are with you and they will never leave you nor forsake you. Your proof is in Joshua 1:0, Matthew 28:20 and John 14:16. God bless you.