A Movie, a Book, and an Opportunity.
A Movie, a Book, and an Opportunity. — September 6th
by Stu Cocanougher, Share Strategy Pastor
This weekend, my wife and I saw the film “All Saints” at a local movie theater. This movie stars John Corbett (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) as the new pastor at a church that was about ready to close it's doors. I was intrigued by this movie for many reasons. First of all, the movie is based on a true story that happened in Smyrna, Tennessee… just a few miles from where I grew up. More importantly, it was about how Christian refugees from Burma brought new life into a small church in rural Tennessee farming community.
I was intrigued that critics gave it a 93% approval rating (https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/all_saints/) . If you have ever looked at secular reviews of Christian films, you will see that most film critics are brutal when reviewing films of faith. Yet, this film told a unique story. This is not a story of a strong, heroic church reaching out to the underprivileged. This is the story of two weak Christian groups coming together to become one strong family. It is the story of God working amoung His people. If you have the opportunity, I hope you go and see the movie "All Saints."
“All Saints” reminded me of a book a read recently… Seeking Refuge: On the Shores of the Global Refugee Crisis. This book was produced by one of Southcliff’s Share Partners, World Relief. According to the United Nations, over 65 million people in the world have been driven from their homes. Not since World War II have there been so many families fleeing disaster, persecution, and war.
At the same time, the word “refugee” now means a lot of differnt things to a lot of people. There is so much misinformation and politicizing of refugees in our world today. The book Seeking Refuge seeks to present clear, nonpartisan facts about refugees. At the same time, the book challenges Christians to follow the mandate of scripture to share the love of Jesus with families who are seeking refuge. This book enables Christians to speak with clarity and compassion about an important topic that continues to dominate world news. At the same time, the book shows us that Christians are called to reach out to the "least of these" (Matthew 25:31-46). Seeking Refuge is a "must read" for Christians who work in English as a Second Language (ESL) and other ministries to immigrants.
The book Seeking Refuge is available at Southcliff’s HomePointe.
For many Christians, seeing the movie “All Saints” or reading the book “Seeking Refuge” will influence the way that the topic of refugees if viewed. Yet, at Southcliff, God has blessed us by planting dozens of refugee families across the street from our church. And what a blessing it is! If you look around Southcliff on any given Sunday morning, you will see many Christian families from Burma (Myanmar). Some of them have become members, joined the choir, volunteered to serve on our tech team, etc. You will also meet Christians from Sri Lanka, Congo, Burundi, Cameroon, Syria, Iran, and Nepal. Many of these precious families had to flee their homes because they were persecuted for following Jesus.
At Southcliff, there are many opportunities to reach out to our brothers and sisters in Jesus who are new to America. Here are some simple ways to start.
1) Learn their names. Some of the names are challenging, so write them down and practice them. Remember, relationships are often built upon the words “hello, my name is…”
2) Learn to greet them in their language. Virtually all of these refugees are working hard to learn English as quickly as possible. But a greeting of “Jambo” to a Swahili speaker, or “Ming-Ga-Lah-Bah” to someone from Burma communicates that you care about their them.
3) Look for opportunities to connect. Don’t be in a hurry to leave after Sunday morning services. If you see a refugee family, go up and talk to them. Ask them about their children. Where do they work? Ask them about their home country.
4) Look for opportunities for true friendship. Ask a family if you can drop by their home to visit. Invite the family to your home. Offer to help the kids with homework. Most of these families have been torn from their support systems. Remember that these are your brothers and sisters in Christ.
What do you think? Did you see the movie “All Saints?” Have you read the book “Seeking Refuge.” I would like to hear your thoughts. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org