–By Michele S.
On Saturday, we concluded our six-week series “World Christianity and World Cinema” in which we listened to stories from the world church. The common theme among these different stories was the way God can do incredible works, sometimes using supernatural intervention, through his Holy Spirit when his people give themselves wholly to loving him with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength, and their neighbor as themselves. It was apparent that Jesus was stirring the hearts of all of us in our discussions, as we wrestled with the issues in the films and with the pain of current events in this country. Somehow, from the first session onward, there was a sense of God’s power and of longing to see him intervene in what, humanly speaking, is a hopeless situation of entrenched racial injustice in the United States–a longing for God to use us in this work. Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Except for the first week’s session, I did not post a report of each session. I thought I would mark the end of the series by providing a list of the topics covered with links to the video sources for those who might want to explore further.
Week 1: Let the Sea Resound: Revival, social renewal, political change in Fiji (Melanasia). See this post for a reflection on that session.
Week 2: Jesus in Athens: This documentary explores the work of God’s Spirit among Muslim immigrants who arrived by boat in Greece. Revival, miraculous appearances and divine interventions have taken place among the displaced Muslims from many countries in the Middle East. Some of the new converts have become evangelists to their own countries, such as Afghanistan, otherwise closed to missionary work.
Week 3: Of Gods and Men: The story of a community of French monks in Algeria (monks of Tibhirine) who had lived among the local Muslim population in harmony and peace, serving the community with medical help (and other ways) were killed for their Christian witness. They made the united choice to remain with their Muslim friends, in spite of the threat of death
Week 4: Emanuel: This film documented the June 2015 mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. Even in a country where mass shootings are alarmingly common, this crime stood out as a shocking act of racially motivated violence and a violation of sacred space. The nation was once again shocked when, days after the shootings, several family members of the victims publicly forgave the killer at his bond hearing. The film examines why some families forgave and others did not and whether that forgiveness was an act of submission or the ultimate expression of love.
Week 5: An Unconventional War: This documentary recounts the story of how Christians in Uganda came together in prayer and in the power of the Holy Spirit to oust Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army from northern Uganda. Kony and the LRA terrorized the region from the late 1980s into the early 21st century, abducting over 30,000 children to be child soldiers or sex slaves and displacing close to two million people.
Week 6: We took a look at environmentalism and Christian responsibility through the life and work of Dr. Wangari Maathai in the documentary Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai. She started a women’s tree-planting movement that led to the creation of the Green Belt Movement in Kenya. She was the first African woman and environmentalist to win the Nobel Peace prize in 2004. Her leadership in this movement led to her role in fighting for human rights and for democracy in Kenya in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The session started with a childrens’ focus: a video reading of Trees of Peace (the work of Wangari Maathai) and “I will be a hummingbird” – short video story written by Wangari.