Alone Yet Not Alone
About the Guest
What does life look like when faith is all you have? Dennis Rainey welcomes Jim Leininger into the studio to talk about the release of his new movie, "Alone Yet Not Alone," a film based on a true story about two young sisters during the French and Indian War who are taken captive by hostile natives. While waiting for their rescue, the girls are comforted by the words of a family hymn, Alone Yet Not Alone. But when the girls are suddenly and cruelly separated, their faith is stretched even further.
Dennis Rainey welcomes Jim Leininger to talk about the release of his new movie, “Alone Yet Not Alone.”
Alone Yet Not Alone
Bob: When Jim Leininger began exploring his family tree, he found that some of his relatives were pretty famous.
Jim: The reason their story is famous is that the older two girls, actually, were able to escape with two English boys and make it back to civilization— which, in that case, was Fort Pitt. These kids—when they decided to run for their lives, literally—crossed countless rivers and mountains. Historically speaking, I believe there were thousands taken captive; but they are the only children, in the history of Pennsylvania, that ever successfully escaped from the Indians.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, September 27th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We’ll hear the story of Barbara and Regina Leininger today and hear about the new motion picture that shares their story with the world. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us.
Dennis: I just want to interrupt you, Bob. You’ve always gotten on to me when we bring somebody into the studio, where I share a common interest with the guest—
Bob: Typically, a hunter or a fisherman who we bring in here.
Dennis: An outdoorsman of some kind. I feel like, at this point, I just kind of need to step away from the microphone and let you and our guest just talk about—
Bob: Just take over the whole thing?
Dennis: —talk about the Spurs. [Laughter] Talk about the Spurs—
Bob: We could do that.
Dennis: —the San Antonio Spurs.
Bob: We could do that. We’d have a lot to talk about. Go, Spurs, Go! [Laughter]
Actually, I was thinking you should start off by acknowledging to our listeners the nickname that I’ve come to be known by, here at FamilyLife—the way people refer to me around the hall. You know?
Dennis: Oh, Cecil B. Lepine—
Bob: Yes. Yes.
Dennis: —for your work on The Art of Marriage® and Stepping Up™.
Bob: The video projects we’ve been involved with. I’ve had a chance to have my hand in that. So, yes, I’m—
Dennis: Are you saying that, maybe, you’ve been supplanted, in our halls, by Cecil B. Leininger. [Laughter]
Bob: Maybe; maybe today, at least. That’s right.
Dennis: Jim Leininger joins us from San Antonio. Jim, welcome to the broadcast.
Jim: Thank you, Dennis. And just let me say I knew Bob before he came to Little Rock—when he was back in San Antonio—and he was just one of us guys, back then.
Dennis: Yes; yes.
Bob: This is Jim saying, “I knew Bob, and you’re no Bob Lepine.” [Laughter]
Dennis: Well, Jim has been married to Cecelia since 1972, just like Barbara and me. They have four children and, soon to be, nine grandchildren. Jim, you have a passion—Bob referred to it—you have a passion around movies.
You know, I’m thinking here—first of all, Bob—I’m about to take him in the direction of Cecil B. Lepine in movies—we’ve got to clear up the San Antonio Spur connection here.
Bob: Well, we both lived in San Antonio. You’ve been involved with the team a little bit; right?
Jim: Yes, I have.
Bob: And I have to tell you—my interest—when I lived in San Antonio, I was looking around and thinking: “I know my boys, as they grow up, are going to have some interest in sports. I’d like them to have interest in people with character.” It was right at the time when David Robinson became a Spur. I said, “I don’t need to look any farther than that.”
Bob: He’s a man who has represented Christ well. So, they got David Robinson posters in their rooms at home, and he’s been a great role model for them.
Jim: He’s a fine man—as fine a person as I’ve ever known and met. Still, today, when they introduce him at games—I mean, standing ovation. He is beloved by the people.
Bob: It’s interesting, to me, Dennis, talking about your interest in movies because you told me the last time you went to a theater was to see Rocky.
Jim: Yes. Well, until The Passion of the Christ. We went back to the theater for The Passion of the Christ. So, about a 25-year hiatus—I don’t know exactly.
Dennis: So, now, you are doing what? [Laughter]
Jim: One of those things I swore I’d never do. We’ve just completed the production of our second movie and have helped with the promotion of a third movie. So, we’re getting involved in films that are family-friendly and God-honoring, exclusively. That’s the only thing we’re going to do.
Bob: Why movies, Jim? I mean, here’s a guy who went to see Rocky and then The Passion of the Christ, 25 years later. It’s not like you’re at home, eating popcorn every Friday night, watching a DVD.
Jim: Well, we did watch a lot of DVDs. They were mostly Christian films that were made back in the 80s and in the 90s. For the most part, they weren’t up to the standard of a good Hollywood blockbuster movie, by any stretch of the imagination. It’s not easy, as you know, Cecil. [Laughter] Our goal is to make really quality films, and that is a huge undertaking.
Dennis: It is. And you’re doing it because, in your heart of hearts, you have a passion for people to turn their hearts toward Jesus Christ and the Scriptures. You are, also, a storyteller. You like stories.
Jim: I love to tell stories. You know, our children—when we were raising them—every night at bedtime, there would be two or three stories before I could get out of the bedroom. So, it was just extemporaneous. You know, just spontaneous—whatever they wanted to hear about. I’d always include them in the story. Never thought of myself as a storyteller; but I loved doing it, and they loved hearing it. So, it just sort of evolved that way.
Bob: Tell everybody about the movie that you’ve been working on, most recently, because this is a movie that is opening, this weekend, in Atlanta, in Raleigh, Durham—Knoxville, Tennessee, in Nashville—Grand Rapids, Colorado Springs, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. Depending on how it does in those cities, it’s targeted for a broader release on February 21st. Tell everybody about the movie.
Jim: Okay, the movie is called Alone Yet Not Alone. It’s about three little girls who were attacked. Their family was on the frontier of Pennsylvania during the French and Indian War in 1755—was attacked by Indians. The adults, for the most part, were killed. Children—many of them—were taken captive and taken west into western Pennsylvania first. Then—as the British, later in the war—were drawing closer, they took them all the way on into Ohio to Moschinko Indian village, which was on the Muskingum River and is today the city of Zanesville, Ohio.
So, they took these poor little girls—two were age 12 and one was age 9—from eastern Pennsylvania—I don’t know—hundreds of miles—three to four hundred miles into eastern Ohio. They had no idea where they were, obviously. They were just dragged through the woods as little children. The reason their story is famous is that the older two girls, who were taken to the same Indian village, actually, were able to escape with two English boys and make it back to civilization—which, in that case, was Fort Pitt, which is now Pittsburgh. They had no idea where they were going—across countless rivers and mountains. And neither one of the girls could swim. So, it was a challenging run, to say the very least.
Historically speaking, I believe they are the only children—in the history of Pennsylvania—that ever successfully escaped from the Indians. There were thousands taken captive. That’s how they replenished the Indian tribes, but none ever were able to escape.
Dennis: Yes, I was sitting there, next to you, watching the movie. You came in here, at Little Rock, and had a private showing for our staff. They thoroughly enjoyed it.
Dennis: They really did enjoy it. I have to say, from the very start, the music score is magnificent—and the scenery and the setting for it—but the story pulls you right in. You begin to identify with these young ladies.
I was sitting next to you, Jim. I think I told you this earlier—I wanted to lean over and say, “Now, Jim, why did the Indians take all these boys and girls who were 9, 10, 11 years old? Why did they do that?” You just explained it—that they are replenishing. As a culture, they were used to conquering other tribes, other peoples; and they’d take the children—
Dennis: —as a part of it.
Jim: Yes. When an Indian tribe attacked another tribe, what would happen is the warriors would go, out front, and battle the invading Indians. The women, and children, and old people would go running through the woods—out the back door, if you will. Whatever side won, they would take the women, and children, and whoever in that tribe to replace the warriors that were wounded or killed. The children—you can imagine the death rates among children—many didn’t survive.
Then, in the movie, they talk about the white man’s pox, which is small pox. Those things caused the decimation of the native populations of America.
Bob: Part of the undercurrent for this film is that the children are sustained through all of their hardships by a faith that was passed on to them from a mother and a father—a faithful, godly mom and dad—who taught them the Scriptures in the evenings, read the Bible to them, and prepared them for the hardships they’d be facing. There’s a faith undercurrent to this film that’s very real and very powerful.
Jim: Yes. And many people didn’t even make the crossing—across the ocean—
Jim: —the death rates were very high. Every step of the way, you were looking death in the face. So, if you didn’t have faith—either that or you were a tremendous adventurer—you would never chance this or risk it. So, many of the colonists—the early colonists that came—were believers, who were seeking freedom of religion—especially, in the state—or the colony, at the time—of Pennsylvania, where William Penn was a Quaker. He, literally, went around Europe, seeking religious groups that would come to Pennsylvania. So, probably more than any other colony, you had a very strong religious background in Pennsylvania.
But of all times—Quakers were probably predominant; but Barbara and Regina—the two girls, the 12- and 9-year-old—were German Lutheran. Their next door neighbor and dearest friend was Maria LeRoy, who was from Switzerland and was Amish. So, I think in every colony, the faith community was strong but, particularly, so in Pennsylvania.
Dennis: The way you weave faith into this movie—it’s just a part of the fabric of this family’s life. You really believe that’s important.
Jim: Oh, absolutely. I think that—you know, we can’t even comprehend, today, how dependent people were in the 1700’s on God—you know, for fires, for Indian attacks—I mean, just overwhelming circumstances they had no control over. So, this—the particular family—Barbara and Regina’s family—they had memorized Bible verses. They sang Christian hymns. That’s, ultimately, how Regina got back to find her mother, after being gone for almost ten years, as a captive of the Indians.
Dennis: There is one scene where, I believe, it was Barbara who ran away and was placed on a stake about to be burned and started—they were going to burn her at the stake for running away! She started quoting hymns and singing the song that her mother had sung to her, as a little girl.
Jim: Yes, and that’s accurate—historically-accurate. She did attempt to escape when they took her younger sister away, who she had promised that she would never leave her. You know, when the Indians divided up, they always divided families. They knew these two were sisters—so, they went to different villages. Of course, Barbara never knew where her sister went; but she tried to get her back. She jumped on a horse and tried to find her, but they captured her.
The standard penalty for trying to escape was to be burned or tortured to death. They began to do that to her. She and Marie had been given to the same Indian, named Galasko. He saved her, basically. He was out hunting, and they’d already started to burn her. He came in, just as they did. He argued with the other braves for her. He said: “Well, she was just looking for her sister. She was brave to try.”
So, it’s a true story. We know all the details of it—which is so unusual—but once the girls did escape and get back to Philadelphia, there was a great clamor among the people because there were over 2,200 children that had been taken captive and had disappeared. So, all the relatives and all the families wanted to find these girls and find out if they knew anything about their loved ones.
Of course, the authorities said: “Well, it’s not possible. Nobody can escape the Indians.” So, when they found these girls, they brought them before the Pennsylvania Assembly in an official inquiry. Benjamin Franklin was head of the Assembly, at that time; and they grilled them. They thought they were lying. Of course, they could speak the Indian language—
Dennis: Oh, sure.
Jim: —and they knew every detail. I think it was like 27 of the children of other families that they were able to identify what happened to them or where they were taken. Of course, they didn’t get any of them back; but at least, it gave the families some solace to know that they were still alive and were healthy.
Dennis: This would make a great movie to take your 10-, 11-, 12-year-old to go see—just to have them identify with other children who began to live out their faith on their own.
Bob: It’s a great slice of American history. In fact, as I was watching it, I was thinking about the movie, The Patriot, which I don’t know if you ever saw; but it reminded me—
Jim: I love it.
Bob: —of those scenes—
Jim: Many times.
Bob: —from The Patriot. It’s just—it’s a part of our heritage that, I think, we’ve lost touch with. So, to be reconnected with that is powerful. Of course, the story of these kids—their bravery, running away, travelling hundreds of miles to get to safety—that’s a compelling story—but it was even more compelling for you for a particular reason. That’s because of the last name of Barbara and Regina; right?
Jim: Yes. That’s Barbara and Regina Leininger. We heard about the story, probably 30 years ago, just through family means and through the writings of Pastor Muhlenberg, who was the original missionary from the Lutheran Church in Germany to the Colony of Pennsylvania. He’s very beloved, and was a great missionary and pastor, and is known as “The Father of the Lutheran Church in America”.
He was so impressed with Regina, when she got back, because she couldn’t speak a word of English or German; but when he gave her the Bible, she could read it perfectly in German, even though she had forgotten how to speak it.
Bob: How to speak it?
Jim: How to speak it, yes.
Jim: Yes. He, actually, wrote back—and this is what we originally found—was he wrote back to the Lutheran church in Germany, talking about how important it is to inculcate, as early as possible, in these children, God’s Word because it stays there. It never goes away.
That’s what helped us to so organically portray their faith in this movie. You know, you don’t have to hit people over the head with it because they were desperate. I mean, they were little children—where their families had been killed, or their cabins burned, and dragged off into the wilderness by people that were so very different than anything they’d been around.
Bob: Have you been able to figure out whether Regina and Barbara are eighth cousins, once removed, or where they fit in the Leininger family tree?
Jim: No, I haven’t because we’d have to go back to—most of the Leiningers are from two little villages in Alsace-Lorraine. That’s where they were from, and that’s where we are from. So, I am sure—way back there, somewhere—but in order to find that out, you’d have to go back to those villages, and go to the churches, and trace the ancestry all the way back.
Bob: And you haven’t done that yet?
Jim: Just have not had the time, so far. [Laughter]
Dennis: Jim, you mentioned this is your first movie. There is a second one coming that is in process. I’m excited about it, as well. Just salt our listeners down just a little because they are going to be hearing more about this one, later on in the year.
Jim: Yes, the second movie is To Have and to Hold. It’s a movie based on a book by Mary Johnston. She wrote it in 1907 for the 300th Anniversary of Jamestown. Then, it was republished in 2007 for the 400th Anniversary. That’s when we found out about it.
The story is about Jamestown. It was a huge national bestseller, when it came out in 1907—was very popular. They made a silent movie out of it. Then, they made—when sound movies first came out, they made a movie, with sound on it. Then, it just kind of was lost in the 1930s; but the story is fabulous. It’s a very popular story, historically, in America. It’s all about the founding of Jamestown—the founding of our country.
Bob: And about the fact that 300 men came to settle Jamestown. Somebody forgot to tell them that life was going to be hard here, without women. So, “maiden ships” came with wives for these 300 colonists; right?
Jim: Yes, and that’s the central theme of the story. When the “maiden ship” arrives— and there are 2,000—by 1620, there are 2,000 colonists. Ninety-five women arrive, looking for a husband; but they were, shall we say, in big demand. [Laughter]
Bob: For our listeners, who would like to see—and again, the movie that is just, now, coming out is a movie called Alone Yet Not Alone. If folks would like to see the trailer for that, they can go to our website: FamilyLifeToday.com. We’ve got a link there so they can watch the film trailer. Then, if they want to know when the film is going to be coming to their city, that’s on your website as well; right?
Bob: If you just go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click on the link we have there, that will take you right there. You can watch the trailer and find out when the film is coming to your community, but we hope families will go see it.
Dennis: I do. And this is a safe movie to bring a neighbor and, perhaps, their family—again, 10 and up—I would think would be perfect. Again, because it shows the journey of these young ladies—a journey of faith—all because they listened to what their mom and dad taught them.
As you were talking, Jim, I was thinking about Deuteronomy, Chapter 6. It’s really what the movie is all about. Verse 5 says: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children.”
Dennis: That’s what this illustrates. As you illustrate it through this great movie, you give parents—not merely permission—but courage to hang in there, even when it feels like your kids aren’t listening because if those girls hadn’t listened—I don’t know how you are connected—but you might not be here today.
I mean, seriously, Jim! I mean, you are, in essence, a part of the spiritual legacy and the generational passing of a love for Christ that, maybe, somehow is tied all the way back to those 9-, 10-, 11-year-old girls, who believed what their parents taught them about the Scriptures, and refused to fall into unbelief, but trusted God in tough circumstances.
Jim: And they had no place else to turn but to God; but they were firmly-rooted, and they didn’t want to worship the Indian gods. They wanted to be Christian. What spurred them to escape, when they did, was, when the Indians left to go to Fort Pitt, there were only two warriors left in the village to guard and defend against anybody escaping and to protect the old people and the young children.
The chief’s son wanted to marry Barbara Leininger. She had been pretending to be ill; and so, she was separated and put off in a long house for the sick people. The chief came to her, the day they left to go to Fort Pitt, and said, “Three days after we get back, we will have a marriage ceremony,”—meaning: “I’m tired of these delays. You will marry my son.” So, she knew she had to get out of there.
Dennis: She refused to worship—
Dennis: —any other god.
Jim: That is exactly what it came down to. I think that’s portrayed well in the movie, and their faith is the only thing they had. It’s the only thing that sustained them; and if they had not had that, they’d have just been lost.
Bob: Yes, and that’s so clear in the film. I’m excited for our listeners—in Atlanta, and in Raleigh, Durham, and Knoxville, and Nashville, and Grand Rapids, and Colorado Springs, and Denver, and Houston, and San Antonio—who are going to get a chance to see the movie this weekend because it’s opening in those cities. Then, the plan is—nationwide, February 21st—but it all depends on folks getting out to see the movie in those cities this weekend. So, we hope folks will go see Alone Yet Not Alone.
The story is also told in a companion book, which we have in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. Go to our website: FamilyLifeToday.com. You can get the information you need about both the book and the movie when you go there. If you’d like to order a copy of the book by phone, call us at 1-800-FL-TODAY, 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”.
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With that, we’ve got to wrap things up for this week. Thanks for being with us. Hope you have a great weekend, and I hope you can worship together with your family in church this weekend.
Join us back on Monday when we’re going to talk to Pastor Mike Howerton about how God delights in taking the messes we make in our lives and bringing glory from those messes. We’ll talk about what redemption really looks like on Monday. Hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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