GOD WILLING is a powerful exploration of a 35-year-old American religious sect known as “The Church” or “The Brotherhood.” It also outlines the struggles of families whose children turn away from them to become “Brothers” and “Sisters” in the group, renouncing their past lives and the world – often, without ever turning back. This documentary offers an inside look at the group, offering searing testimonials from both family members and former members of The Church. The film details the appeal of Roberts’ message to the sincere spiritual needs of young people, and the struggle that some of them face with fellow members and themselves when they find little more comfort in the fold than they had in their previous lives. It also grippingly presents the anguish of parents and other loved ones who grapple with the urge to pursue and rescue their children, and the psychological, emotional and tactical impediments that so often get in the way of reconciliation. Extensive surveillance footage of Brothers and Sisters and rare, candid on-camera encounters further enhance this examination of families torn asunder, belief systems at war, and the perilous balance of futility and hope.
Founded in 1971 by shadowy messianic figure Jim Roberts, the group has survived for decades as a separatist society that preaches a strict path to salvation, proselytizes for new members, adheres to strict ascetic values, subsists on discarded food and refuse, and shuttles its members from town to town, often on the run from concerned parents and family members who try to see or communicate with their children.