Minn. Teen’s Battle with Cancer Leads to Role in new “War Room” Movie

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Rachel and Linda 2
Rachel Aarhus and her mom Linda attend the “War Room” Movie Premiere in North Carolina
[dropcap]A[/dropcap] t the prime of her young adult life, Rachel Aarhus was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, as a Senior at Coon Rapids High School. Through the power of prayer and an intense treatment plan; two years later Rachel is cancer free and surprisingly, if you ask her about her cancer experience, she beams with joy.

“God took this bad thing of cancer, and used cancer in my life for so much good. He reminds me how good he is and how much peace he gave me. I got to do something I’d never do otherwise,” said Rachel.

Rachel Aarhus and Alex Kendrick - director
Rachel Aarhus and “War Room” Co-Creator Alex Kendrick

Through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Rachel’s dream to be an extra in the newest Kendrick brother’s film was granted. The Kendrick brothers are known for directing low-budget, faith-based films including “Fireproof” and “Courageous.”

My whole cancer experience I learned to rely on God….

The brothers were filming their fifth movie during the summer of 2014. Rachel was flown out to North Carolina for the filming of the movie, whose plotline and title hadn’t been released. But when Rachel arrived on set, she was offered a speaking role, a dream come true for this theater fan.

“One of the Kendrick brothers asked me to read some lines, and said that I had a role in the movie. I had 2 lines! That was amazing that I got to have lines and I got to work with the actor coach on set,” said Rachel.

The movie that Rachel is now a part of, named “War Room” was released in late August, and is a huge triumph at the box office, becoming the seventh highest-grossing faith-based film. In its first two months at the box office “War Room” grossed $60.5 million, and is being lauded for its message of the power of prayer.

Life on the Set

On set Rachel was amazed by how much the actors and production crew included her and got to know her.

War Room Premiere at Gem Theater
“War Room” Movie Premiere at Gem Theater in North Carolina

“One of my favorite things was meeting the people and talking with them about what they’re passionate about. They were so kind to me. They all prayed for me, and it was really cool,” said Rachel.

Everyone on set wore purple, the color of her cancer’s advocacy ribbon. Rachel was treated like a superstar, getting to use the director’s board to introduce new scenes, helping edit scenes in the editing room, and once the movie was complete months later she was invited to the movie premiere in North Carolina.

“This is the Make-A-Wish that just keeps on going. They even invited me to the cast and crew after-party,” said Rachel.

In August, Rachel’s church Edinbrook Church in Brooklyn Park rented out the local AMC Movie Theater, and hosted their own movie premiere for hundreds of church members who prayed for and supported Rachel during her season of cancer.

Lessons Learned from Cancer

“My whole cancer experience I learned to rely on God. Through that time he taught me about peace and leaning into him, that I didn’t have to be strong but He could be strong for me,” said Rachel.

We shouldn’t minimize what prayer can do…

Rachel says she’s inspired by the theme of prayer in “War Room” because through her cancer diagnosis she came to understand and appreciate the role of prayer in her life.

“Prayer is a way I can connect with God, He has been showing me the power of prayer, that He is here and He is present. We shouldn’t minimize what prayer can do,” said Rachel.

Plans for the Future
Rachel and Linda Aarhus
Rachel and Linda Aarhus

Rachel is now studying at the University of Northwestern, St. Paul to become a Child Life Specialist.

“I’ll be working in children’s hospitals to calm kids down before they go into surgery,” said Rachel.

She hopes to offer God’s peace and presence to other young kids experiencing the same fear and uncertainty she felt during her battle with cancer. And experiencing God’s presence is the ultimate Make-A-Wish in anyone’s life.