A new television series premiering April 6 on PBS promises to introduce viewers to some of the most innovative acts of courage and kindness around the planet.
“The Good Road” is a journey led by philanthropists and adventurers Earl Bridges and Craig Martin who seek out and celebrate individuals whose creative compassion shines in all manner of desperate situations.
A backdrop to the series is Bridges’ and Martin’s life-long friendship. They first met at age 9 as students of at the International School of Bangkok.
In adulthood they took different paths, Bridges as a developer of workplace giving software and Martin as a filmmaker and director. He also served as communications director at the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Missions Board. Martin is a member of Baptist News Global’s board of directors.
Their new show was three years in the making and evokes a travel-and-adventure format with its remote, exotic and sometimes dangerous locations.
But the show’s eight episodes are meant to be more than entertaining. Bridges and Martin said the series is designed to inspire viewers to inspire viewers to discover imaginative approaches to charity in their own communities.
“My goal is to change culture for the positive and the only way you do that in media terms is to have a large number of people impacted by it,” said Martin, a resident of Richmond, Virginia. “It’s about moving the largest number of people into some sort of action.”
Viewers will be exposed to plenty of that in settings such as Third World neonatal intensive care units, refugee camps, slums or among those combating elephant poaching and human trafficking.
Bridges said the stars of the program aren’t him and Martin, who are its producers and hosts, but those displaying creativity and determination in the face of intense suffering and hardship.
“We want these guys to be the celebrity chefs of doing good,” said Bridges, who lives in Charleston, South Carolina. “You fall in love with these characters who show us that in darkest corners you find the brightest lights.”
Intentionally missing from the film is any proselytizing or other religious messaging.
While one episode features a prison ministry in Thailand founded by Martin’s father, Bridges said the message being promoted is “there’s good all over and it doesn’t have to have a hidden agenda.”
Martin grew up the son of missionaries and Bridges’ father became a missionary after a career as a U.S. Air Force officer.
The two are in different places on God and religion.
“Craig maintains a strong connection to his Baptist sensibilities and sees God’s providential hand in everything, and I don’t,” Bridges said.
They are agreed on one thing, he added: “No one has a monopoly on empathy and compassion.”
The two friends also were united in their passion to uncover some of the most unique forms of charity no matter where it was to be found, Martin said.
“Part of the goal of the show is to go to places most people wouldn’t go,” he explained. “Danger is not something we shy away from.”
“The Good Road” will be broadcast on 350 PBS stations, Bridges said. He encouraged interested viewers to check local listings for times.