The problem with many faith-based Christian films and TV shows is that they aren't very good.
They tend to be cheaply made, with heavy-handed scripts that push a polarizing agenda.
And then there's a notable exception to the rule: Roma Downey, the Irish actress best known for the long-running drama series Touched by an Angel, and her producer husband Mark Burnett, the man behind Survivor, The Apprentice and The Voice.
Downey and Burnett's LightWorkers Media production company, formed in 2009, specializes in faith-based films and TV series that have mainstream appeal, such as The Bible, the 2013 miniseries that set ratings records for History channel; and The Dovekeepers, the 2015 CBS miniseries.
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Their latest is Answered Prayers, a six-episode series that premieres at 10 p.m. Sunday on TLC.
The reality documentary-style show, hosted by Downey, tells stories of people in peril and families in need who survived and thrived thanks to what they consider to be divine intervention.
We talked with Downey last week about Answered Prayers and her commitment to making message programming of this nature.
Question: What was the genesis of Answered Prayers? What made you think, "This is a great idea for a show, somebody needs to do it and that somebody needs to be me"?
Answer: That's exactly what I thought. There is nothing quite like it on television. ... There is so much heartache in our world. I thought we needed to be reminded that good things, extraordinary things, happen.
Q: One of those stories in the first episode involves a boy whose leg is badly mangled in a lawnmower accident. Four years later, at age 7, he decides to have the leg amputated.
A: That's the Bainter family from Florida. Such a touching story. They got on their knees together as a family and asked for a sign: Should they have this surgery? Should they get this child a prosthetic leg? They were so unclear if it was the right decision.
Then, as they're driving the next day, on their way to a medical consultation, they spot an elderly gentleman on a bicycle with a prosthetic leg. They stop and ask him if the procedure made his life better. He tells them how he had been so limited and now, with his prosthetic, he was able to live an active life.
He encouraged the boy and assured his parents that they were making the right decision. Today the boy is a teenager and he's strong and living a full life. The family asked for a sign and, goodness gracious, did they ever get one!
Q: How do you find stories like this?
A: We scoured the country. We went out to churches across the States asking if anybody had answered prayers that they would trust us and allow us to share. Many families stepped forward, so many amazing stories. If TLC orders more seasons, we'll have a lot of material for many seasons to come.