‘Unsung Hero’ a Story of Faith Amidst Hardship

By: Matt Townsend

⭐⭐⭐⭐(out of 5) – Matt Townsend

The Christian life is a rollercoaster journey of highs and lows, a battle of faith to trust God amid hardship and uncertainty.

In the grandest of faith stories, there always seems to be a silent figure in the background, quietly inspiring everyone around them to hold onto faith, especially when circumstances scream, “abandon ship!”

Unsung Hero tells the true story of the Aussie-born family, the Smallbones. David Smallbone, played by his son, author, and director, Joel Smallbone, is a promoter in Australia, during the late eighties. When David makes a big gamble on one of contemporary Christian music’s biggest stars that doesn’t pan out, David loses everything. He and his musically gifted family are forced to move to Nashville, TN in hopes of starting over.

Yet, hardship seems to follow David wherever he goes. The cutthroat music industry teaches him the hard truth that the name of the game is show-business, not show-friends. With little money and fewer friends, the Smallbones are forced to do yard work for neighbours to make ends meet. The kids, showing remarkable resilience, chip in as David works tirelessly to keep his dreams alive. Yet every step of the journey seems designed by a higher power to beat him down and humble him.

When David becomes despondent, angry, and defeated, ready to give up on his dreams, his wife, Helen, played by Daisy Betts, holds onto her trust in the Lord. In a pivotal scene, she appeals to her children to “burn the ships” of retreat and comfort and commit their path to the Lord, no matter how difficult it may be. Instead of retreating, the family, through the unwavering faith of Helen, devotes themselves to prayer and trust and begins seeing miracle upon miracle pile up in front of their eyes until finally, one providential meeting with a record produced sets them on the path to revival.

Unsung Hero is a powerful story about how the faith of a mustard seed can move mountains and revive an entire family’s trust in God’s plans, which rarely cut a straight path of ease and convenience. Joel Smallbone pulls triple duty, co-directing, writing, and starring as the lead. Joel never paints his Christian faith with bright, unmessy colours. Instead, Joel unveils the shortcomings and foibles of an imperfect family, trying desperately to hold onto the Lord and each other. Though a bit melodramatic at times and soggy in the middle, the Smallbone saga proves deeply inspiring as we discover the journey is truly worth the struggle. Ultimately, the Smallbone story shows us how God uses hardship and struggle to shape his followers into more valuable and effective instruments for His glory.

What proved uniquely special about this film was the company this reviewer enjoyed while watching the movie. My daughter asked that we see this for her twelfth birthday, so I willingly indulged her, unaware of the Smallbone family, For King and Country, or their connection with music icon, Rebecca St. James. It’s also no secret in our family that I don’t usually like Christian films. Yet, this film proved solid and inspiring for me, and it was a special moment shared with my daughter that I will never forget. With that, I invite you to hear from my daughter about why she absolutely loved this film…

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐(out of 5) – Emmy Townsend

I watched Unsung Hero with my dad the day after my birthday. I wanted to see this movie because I wanted to see what the Smallbone brothers thought about themselves after all these years of entertaining audiences with beautiful music. As a fan of their music, I wanted to know what they had to endure to get to where they are now. This is not what I got, and this For King and Country fan couldn’t be happier.

What I loved most about the story of their father, mother, and sister (who turned out to be Rebecca St. James) is the emotional struggle all three went through after losing everything and travelling halfway around the world for a new beginning. The father is trying to provide for his family. The mother, desperately trying to keep everyone together, can’t help but wonder how they would ever get through this without her newfound friends. And lastly, Rebecca. All she wants is for her family to be happy, even if that means being told repeatedly that she isn’t good enough. She is told this by countless strangers, and even by her father at some point. The younger kids all have to face the fact that they can’t always have the perfect life. It was a wild ride for the whole family. What was so inspiring was to see how their faith held them all together. That is why it was just amazing to watch this film with my father.


If you would like to discuss themes from Unsung Hero, reach out to us at Third Space. We would love to chat with you about this and more.


Article supplied with thanks to City Bible Forum.

All images: Movie stills

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