January has come and gone. Resolutions have been made. Some are still progressing and some are already forgotten. We get so disappointed with ourselves, don’t we? The New Year comes and we hope for our lives to improve. Then we fall short of our newly made resolutions and wait for the next new year to roll around.
But God is the God of new life – and to my way of thinking that means He can start a new year any time He pleases. Maybe January saw you let go of your goals, maybe you’re still keeping up with them. (Perhaps a daily bible reading commitment?!) Whether you’re a successful resolution maker or not, let’s all make an unofficial pact that February will begin another new year, but not a calendar-year, rather a God-year. And let’s all make some new resolutions that are about God’s kingdom.
When it comes to resolutions, weight loss, financial goals and relationships are certainly not “bad” things to focus on. But New Year’s resolutions as a whole tend to find us thinking of ourselves and starting the new year out with a selfish commitment rather than a godly one.
Consider what God thinks is important for a minute:
James 1:27 (in the Amplified)
“Pure and unblemished religion [as it is expressed in outward acts] in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit and look after the fatherless and the widows in their distress, and to keep oneself uncontaminated by the [secular] world.”
(Also consider the great commission, Matthew 28: 19-20)
God tells us in James that He wants our faith to be “expressed” in “outward acts.” In this passage He specifically refers to looking after widows and orphans. But based on what we know of Jesus’ character it’s safe to assume that He wants us to look after any and all who have less than we, have hard times, any who suffers, and who are oppressed, and who are broken under the weights of this world.
Stashed in the first chapter of James, a book that speaks mostly on personal reproach, God calls us to look outward, to make our lives and our faith about the people around this world that He loves so desperately much.
Want to honor God’s definition of pure religion this year? Me too! Make it practical by adding these five movies to your watch list – these stories will help you to focus on missions this year.
As you watch these stories remember to:
pray for missionaries
support missionaries through your home church
& consider participating in state-side missions work such as soup kitchens or food drives.
Five Movies to Make this Year Missions Focused
NOTE: Some of these movies tell hard but true stories. You will likely cry. These stories should be told in our churches and families, but the movies themselves may not be appropriate for young children to watch.
No Turning Back: A Story of Courage, Faith, and Determination
Dr Marcus and Narcissa Whitman were among the first settlers to make it across the Rocky Mountains. They ministered to the native Cayuse Indians. After years of working their mission and much heartache, but also much fruit, the Cayuse massacred the Whitman’s and other missions workers in the area. (This movie was a VHS from the 1990’s. You’ll probably have to check your local library for it.)
End of the Spear
If you haven’t seen this movie or heard accounts of this story, then it is a must. While hard to watch, it reminds us that missionaries and their families often make great sacrifices to minister to the people of the world. Some of us would never have the strength or courage to do that, but it’s vital that we pray for and support missionaries and their families. This movie follows five missionaries including Nate Saint and Jim Elliot who are murdered by indigenous men of Ecuador.
The next three movies are more about a “good story” rather than drawing attention to God’s gospel, but they are worth watching.
Though None Go With
I included this movie for one main reason. While watching it take note of the many ways a missionary finds themselves alone. Even missionaries who have families often find that their work is lonely. It is often a life choice that takes great faith. Missionaries sometimes don’t know where they are going or where their next step will be, they just know that have to “GO.”
The Hiding Place
Chances are you’ve seen this movie already or read about Corrie Ten Boom in high school. You are probably wondering why in the world this movie makes this list. For one simple reason, there are tragedies beyond our imaginations occurring every day at every moment all over the world. We could turn a blind eye, like many did when Holocaust was beginning OR we could be obedient to the word of God. God’s heart breaks for the people around this world who are oppressed by evil acts, our hearts should break too. So, accept the tears and the heartache and add this movie to your list.
Few movies have impacted me as much as this one. I grew up in a conservative family, my parents did not allow us to go to movies (although they lifted that rule by the time their fourth, me, was a teenager.) I will never forget my dad insisting that we all go to the movies. He had NEVER been to a movie theater. That Wednesday night we watched Amazing Grace and the story gripped me. Later I researched what the credit roll had suggested that slavery still had massive clutches around this world. Men, women and children suffer in unspeakable ways at the hands of slavery, to this day. And there are missionaries around this world working endlessly to rescue slavery’s victims. When we ignore slavery, we are also ignoring those workers. Let’s not be a part of that atrocity any longer.
I’m not promising movie night at your house will be full of laughs this month, but if you give God your time and offer your prayer commitment – He will hear every word and move mightily for the people of this world.
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