The Effects of War: Student Documents Personal Story

Student uses journalism course to create healing video

May. 25, 2012 By Jenna Bartlo

Plastic American flags dotted Metzger lawn last fall to commemorate service members’ lives. Each flag had a name, service details and date of death. For freshman Julia Henning, one of those flags had significant meaning — one flag held the name of her boyfriend, SPC Rudy Alexander Acosta who had been deployed in Afghanistan a year earlier.

Henning experienced the tragedy of her boyfriend’s death shortly before graduating high school. The two were planning to attend Biola together this past fall. One day, she got a call that changed her life — Acosta had died saving other soldiers’ lives during active duty. 

This past semester, Henning enrolled in a special topics journalism workshop. Creating a mini-documentary memorializing Acosta and the experience of his mother’s healing process after learning of her son’s death, she posted the video on Facebook and YouTube. Within a few weeks, the video received more than 718 views across different platforms and more than one hundred “likes” on Facebook.

“When I had 200 views in the first day, I knew that God may have had bigger plans than I had intended,” said Henning. “I am amazed at what God has done so far and I am overjoyed to see that Rudy's life story, and Mrs. Acosta's honest testimony are still impacting people even one year and almost three months after the incident.” 

For Henning, the video provided a healing process for her and Acosta’s mother.

“Although it was difficult to go through all of the pictures, interview Mrs. Acosta and edit such personal content, it was a blessing — it was healing, in a way,” she said. “God has used this video to tell people all over the world that they can have their salvation secured and go to Heaven when they die, as Rudy did.”

The video has been viewed in Germany (where Acosta was stationed before Afghanistan), Afghanistan and across the United States. Hundreds of soldiers, civilians, pastors, medics and chaplains have viewed the video and sent thanks for Acosta’s service.

“With each view, I am just praying that God uses Rudy's life and his mother's testimony to bring more of His children to himself,” Henning said. “Though that wasn't necessarily the motivation for the mini documentary in the first place, it has definitely become part of my focus.” 

Watch Henning’s video “SPC Rudy A. Acosta: The Hindsight is Always 20/20” below.

Written by Jenna Bartlo, Media Relations Coordinator. For more information, Jenna can be reached at 562.777.4061 or at jenna.l.bartlo@biola.edu. 

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