The producer of the new faith-based movie “I Can Only Imagine” recently shared his inspiring story of going from being orphaned to becoming a Hollywood movie maker.
The movie, based on the astonishing story of the MercyMe song by the same name, is set to hit theaters March 16.
“It’s the song that brings ultimate hope to so many … often in the midst of life’s most challenging moments. Amazingly, the song was written in mere minutes by MercyMe lead singer Bart Millard. In reality, those lyrics took a lifetime to craft,” reads a description on the movie’s website.
“Although he found faith at a young age, life wasn’t easy for Bart. He leaned into an active imagination and his love of music as escapes from a troubled home life. As he grew older, Bart turned to football in hopes of somehow connecting with his abusive father. But a career-ending injury—combined with the vision of a teacher who saw unlimited potential—set Bart on a musical pathway.”
Producer Joe Knopp had a upbringing similar to the central character in the movie, making him a perfect fit for the job. Born in Philadelphia, he was the youngest of three siblings. Knopp’s parents had a violent and abusive marriage that came to an end when he was still very young.
“I grew up with an abusive dad who left when I was 5 years old,” Knopp said in a recent interview with WCPO-TV. “And our mom was not in a position to take care of us. So we kind of lived on the streets of Philadelphia for a couples years until we were placed into an orphanage there.”
The authorities removed Knopp, his sisters, and his mom from their home for safety reasons, and he never saw his father again, FaithIt reported.
Unlike Bart Millard and his dad in “I Can Only Imagine,” Knopp never got the chance to reconcile with his father. When he eventually tried to track down his dad, he subsequently learned that his dad had passed away years prior.
Knopp’s personal faith journey began with something as simple as doughnuts and orange juice. He and his sisters realized that if they attended their local church every week, they’d receive these treats, and that was the only incentive they needed.
When a a church member noticed that something wasn’t quite right with the family, they asked Joe’s mother if they could take the kids on a mission trip to an orphanage. That was when Joe truly encountered Christ for the first time.
I had the incredible honor of attending the Congressional Prayer Breakfast events this week. Seeing leaders from over…
“It was there as a child that Joe finally found a Father who would never abandon him,” FaithIt reported. “When he was 18, he was sent off into the world with good grades, a high school diploma, and a faith in Christ.”
After sensing God leading him to drop out of college and join the U.S. Air Force, he ended up meeting his wife Angie and earning a degree in finance. The Knopps went on to have three children of their own, and Joe founded a successful financial planning business.
After experiencing much success in his field, Joe was approached by a friend looking to secure funds for faith-based movies. From there, his new career was born.
Now a Hollywood movie producer, Knopp is excited for the release of “I Can Only Imagine.”
“I’m in this business because of the impact that stories can have,” Knopp said. “We all have a story.”