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A Faith Not Centered On ‘Me’

article by Kat Miller

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Rod Hassler met his wife, Saige, at Ecclesia in 2009. After getting married, they moved to Pennsylvania until God called them back to LA in July of 2018, some seven years later. Almost exclusively for the past five years, Rod has worked as a Director of Photography. After their move, a friend offered him a job on a docuseries as a 2nd unit DP, B camera operator.

“It had been awhile since I’d been a camera operator,” Rod shares.  “As one, I don’t have creative control, I don’t get as big of a paycheck, and it wasn’t necessarily the type of project I wanted to do,” he confesses. But while this would not have been his first choice, the timing was good as his family was settling back into LA. “Essentially, it was good for others,” he shares. “As a husband and father, the steady paycheck and filming schedule was good for my family, and professionally, it was good to work with friends I hadn’t seen in a while.”

And yet, some of the content of the project gave him pause. “Not that it was a clear problem, but some of the subject matter was more adult than I would want to engage with,” Rod explains. In his experience, “Few mature Christians can get to the point where they are in this industry and aren’t leading double lives; people hide their faith on set because it’s really hard.” But after a decade of growing in his faith and leaning on Christ, he felt God lead him to this job with a different outlook. “If I’m not willing to enter into this specific context, to put aside my own personal reservations, I’m withholding an opportunity for God to work. And I quickly realized how just being there was a hidden privilege to have access to this world and people’s lives in a meaningful way. It was incredibly humbling,” he admits. “I started looking at the situation not focused on myself but on others and what their situation is.”

One opportunity to serve came when he found out that one of the talent was a Christian. “Because we talked about our shared faith, when things during production were difficult and hard to navigate for her, I could tell I was a sounding board and source of encouragement for her, so she didn’t feel alone in all of it,” Rod says. And she did the same for him. One day he came to set, having a rough day, and she was there singing a worship song. “None of this would have happened if we were hiding our faith,” he points out.

During filming, Rod had some health issues and found there was often little food he could eat on set. Adding to that, the job was very physically demanding. “I was hangry to the extreme!” Rod laughs. “But,” he adds, “this is where the rubber meets the road [for my faith].” As he worked through the intensity of the job, he continued building friendships with the crew and living out his faith.

Five months later, as they wrapped up filming, the producer came up to him. “I saw how you handled not getting food,” she said, and went on to thank him for his professionalism and positivity on set. “It was so nice to work with you!” she said, as Rod admits he was unaware of how his struggles were being perceived.

And then Rod took the time to thank the showrunner. “In her position, she’s so used to fielding complaints constantly, she’s not used to hearing the appreciation for all her work,” he says. And so, he could honestly thank her and tell her this was the perfect job opportunity for him, allowing him to have normal hours with his family. She hugged him and said that meant a lot.

“So much of our spirituality is me-oriented as opposed to us-oriented. If I only approached this job with a ‘what can I get out of it’ attitude, the job didn’t have much appeal. But when I looked at it with ‘how can I serve’, the job had tons of opportunities!”