Warren Callaway retired from healthcare in 2006 but refused to settle down.

In the latter half of his life, he’s charged himself with filming missionaries in Africa.

Callaway sat down with This Alabama Life Friday to tell the story about what got him into filming Christian mission work.

Time in healthcare

Before retirement, Callaway worked as a hospital executive, which he said he found fulfilling but also enabled him to identify problems in the healthcare industry. “We were helping people, so we were doing good, but we were part of an industry. So there are both sides to that.”

Callaway said he could always tell something was wrong with the healthcare industry in the United States but could never figure out how to fix it. “So much of what happens in healthcare and hospitals is driven by federal government policy because, frankly, medicare picks up half the tab… the industry does what medicare says.”

A calling to film

When he left healthcare in 2006, Callaway had no idea what he would do. He said he went on his first international mission trip “out of curiosity more than anything".

The experience, Callaway said, was overwhelming. “There were so many things that bombarded my head when I came home, I couldn’t even describe my experience.”

Callaway was drawn into film after he started mentoring a young African girl in the United States attending graduate school. He said she essentially became a part of his family. 

When Callaway learned about the water issues in her village back in Africa, he decided to go and put a well in her village.

“It’s not like Neverthirst,” Callaway said, referencing a Christian nonprofit that focuses on bringing clean water to impoverished areas by building wells. Neverthirst’s CEO Matt Letourneau came on This Alabama Life on March 18 to discuss his mission.

“[Neverthirst is] doing hundreds of wells,” said Callaway. “We did one well. But we significantly changed the landscape for that village in Africa. And I would say it's one of the coolest things I ever did.”

A friend who filmed commercials told Callaway she wanted to make a movie about the girl and the well-building efforts. The movie is called “Well of Dreams” and is available for streaming on Amazon Prime.

Callaway said he watched the filmmakers put the piece together, which inspired him to take online courses and scrounge YouTube to learn the craft and to pick up new skills such as editing and using a video camera. He said he also purchased a large amount of equipment.

“Technology was putting filmmaking equipment in the hands of individuals as opposed to studios,” Callaway said. “…Filmmaking is an individual pursuit today.”

In 2016, Callaway produced a film titled “Colors of Character” about Birmingham artist Steve Skipper who creates sports, religious and civil rights paintings. Callaway’s movie is also streamable on Amazon Prime.

Memories and hopes

Callaway said stories are powerful and help us pass on our history. “There are good stories that don’t get turned into movies because movies are always a function of finances.”

Along the way, Callaway said he has become very passionate about “short-term missions” and budgets at least two international mission trips a year through his church. 

Callaway said one of his most rewarding experiences was working with Syrian refugee children in Lebanon. “These are children just like ours who have had to leave their home because of a war in Syria, and they’re living in tents.”

Callaway helped provide education to the children, who otherwise wouldn’t have a school.

Overall, Calway said he hopes his films can inspire people to give to and go on missions. “When you see the lives that are impacted, how disadvantaged other people in other parts of the world are, and how we can impact their lives for the better, it's a powerful story that you’re telling visually, and that’s what I do.”

Check out the full conversation here.

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email will.blakely@1819News.com.