MOVIES: Refugee farmers & a dying church intersect
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (BP) -- Sometimes, love is signified through fervent prayer for others. Other times, it is expressed through sacrifice and deeds. "All Saints, " which premieres today (Aug. 25) in theaters nationwide, demonstrates the need for all three of these expressions of spiritual love.
Especially in the context of the refugees we see on the news and read about so often these days.
The faith-based drama is based on the true story of an Episcopalian priest ordered by his superiors to shut down his dying parish. But when the young minister senses the Holy Spirit telling him to keep it going, the question becomes: But how, Lord?
Once the Lord speaks to clergyman Michael Spurlock (John Corbett, "Northern Exposure," "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," "Raising Helen," "Ramona and Beezus"), he soon meets a group of refugees from Southeast Asia who are looking for work to supplement their meager incomes.
They're Christians and farmers, and they want to make use of the land surrounding the church building. An idea emerges: a harvested crop to supply the refugees' needs as well as income that will pay off the parish's mortgage.
At first, no one in the congregation's hierarchy likes the idea. But seeds (literal and metaphorical) nevertheless are planted and, despite numerous ordeals, God provides a bountiful harvest.
Matters concerning refugees and immigrants are certainly in the headlines these days, and they often get conjoined with political issues. This film deals with the struggles of those escaping horrors that surrounded them in their homeland, but I didn't find a political element to the story. Rather, its message concerns people drawing closer to each other through God's love and our deeds.
All Saints is rated PG; I found nothing objectionable in the release from Sony and Affirm Films. I think the picture is an important one for our time because it addresses themes such as bonding and working with our fellow man, sacrificing for others, and God's love in times of turmoil. It has a compelling storyline, resonating dialogue and a perceptive performance by Corbett.
I love it when a faith-based film of this quality opens in cinemas that normally screen superhero fantasies, crude comedies or Oscar-contenders heavy on R-rated content. All Saints offers us an opportunity to witness for Christ by bringing loved ones and friends to a movie.
For further information on theater locations and times, go to http://www.allsaintsmovie.com/theaters.
Here are two other films (available on DVD) featuring godly men listening to and then acting on the Lord's direction.
"Faith Like Potatoes "
The inspiring "Faith Like Potatoes " from 2009, based on the novel of the same name, tells the story of Angus Buchan, a South African farmer who suffers a series of seemingly insurmountable losses. But through an unlikely friendship with his Zulu farmhand and God making Himself known through miraculous events, Angus discovers that the key to healing and learning to accept others lies in his unwavering belief in Jesus Christ. The unknown cast does a credible job, but what really moved me was the brave yet sensitive presentation of spiritual beliefs. The way the Holy Spirit affects the life of the main character surely will send a message to even scoffers that there must be something more than the mental and physical aspects of life they embrace.
"Stars in My Crown "
And from old Hollywood, one of my favorite films: "Stars in My Crown" (1950). Joel McCrea stars as a 1800s minister dealing with the problems of his church members. A gentle, episodic tale for the whole family, it is a fine example of how our daily walk can eventually affect the lives of others.
It's my belief that films such as All Saints, Faith Like Potatoes and Stars in My Crown will encourage and inspire viewers to put their faith and love into action. If ever there was a time to do so, it certainly is now.
"By this everyone will know that you are my disciples," the Scripture tells us, "if you love one another" (John 13:35 NIV).