Share “Feeling ‘Heaven’s Rain’”

BY CARLA HINTON Published: March 6, 2010

/> Douglass said filming the scene was as difficult as he thought it would be.

"We shot that scene two weeks ago, and it was unbelievably emotional and hard, but we got through it,” he said.

He said he felt supported through the filming because he was surrounded by family and many of the film crew and actors who care about him.

"It’s not just a job to them. They care about the story,” he said.

Power of forgiveness
Douglass said he hopes another scene in the movie will convey the power of forgiveness.

Douglass said the scene will show his 1994 meeting at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary with Glen Burton Ake, the man who shot his parents. Ake and Steven Hatch were convicted of the murders and sentenced to death. Hatch was executed in August 1996, but Ake, the triggerman, got a new trial and was given life sentences.

Douglass said he asked to visit with Ake while touring the penitentiary in McAlester as a state senator. The request was denied, but soon prison officials agreed to let the two men meet, if Ake was agreeable. After Ake indicated a willingness to meet, Douglass found himself face to face with the man who killed his parents.

"Other than the shootings themselves, it continues to be the most dramatic event in my life,” he said.

"It wasn’t something I was expecting to happen.”

He said when Ake told him that he was sorry for killing his parents, he initially told the man that he could not forgive him. An hour and a half later, Douglass’ heart had changed.

"I told him I forgave him,” Douglass said.

"It was like having an out-of-body experience. These words were coming out of my mouth. It was a life-changing moment.”

Sharing a message
From that life-altering experience comes the title of Douglass’ movie. He said heaven’s rain is mercy.

The title came from Brown’s citing of a passage in Shakespeare’s "The Merchant of Venice”: "The quality of mercy is not strain’d, It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven, Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest: It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”

Douglass said with his knowledge of the Bible, he knew the essence of the passage is rooted in the words of Jesus and therefore a fitting premise for his film: "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:44-45).

As he oversees filming of "Heaven’s Rain,” Douglass said he can’t help but hope his story conveys his message of faith.

"Hopefully, it’s a story that will touch people,” he said. "It’s a story about love. It’s a story about forgiveness. The biggest thing I hope is that it can show people a way to forgive.”

We talked about who did we trust to make this story, who had the heart for it that we do? One day it dawned on me that we could do it ourselves.”

Brooks Douglass,
who tells the story of his parents’ murders in the movie "Heaven’s Rain.”