Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

This week I watched a beautiful production of the life of Lilias Trotter.

Video:
“Many Beautiful Things: The Life and Vision of Lilias Trotter:

Featuring the voices of Michelle Dockery (Downtown Abbey) and John Rhys-Davies (Lord of the Rings and Indiana Jones)

Directed by award-winning filmmaker Laura Waters Hinson

Original Music:  Sleeping at Last

This video was released in 2015 by Oxvision and is 70 minutes long.

Available at Amazon or Vision Video.

I am going to do a full post on the life of Lilias Trotter in the near future. In the meantime, her story is beautifully told in the video. Below is the description from the video, since I could not improve on their summary.

Description (from the DVD):

Could you give up a dream to pursue your true calling? That’s exactly what Lilias Trotter did.  The documentary Many Beautiful Things shares her life story, explaining the heart-wrenching decision she made to give up comfort and potential fame in Victorian England to serve women and children in Northern Africa.

Lilias was a gifted artist who found favor in the eyes of respected art critic John Ruskin. Ruskin mentored Lilias in her artistic endeavors, seeing such potential that he claimed her work could be “immortal.”  She wrestled mightily with the decision, but eventually moved to French Algeria to share God’s love with the people there—a choice that was almost unheard of for a single woman of that time.

This artistically produced documentary uses Lilias’s paintings and journal entries to share her story. Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey) provides the voice of Lilias Trotter and John Rhys-Davies (Lord of the Rings, Indiana Jones) portrays John Ruskin in this 70-minute documentary. The DVD also includes special features, such as “behind the scenes” with Michelle Dockery and a theatrical trailer.

 

Commentary:

I was so entranced by Lilias Trotter’s life and vision that I researched where one could find more about her including some of her drawings on the Web.

You can get a Miriam Huffman Rockness’s biography, “A Passion for the Impossible: The Life of Lilias Trotter” on Amazon.com. You can also get books containing reprints of her many inspirational drawings.

There are many places available where you can find prints of her inspirational drawings. I purchased a beautiful print on wood from:

FineArtAmerica.com

Read Full Post »

Richard & Sabina Wurmbrand: The Underground Pastor and His Wife

Produced by the Christian History Institute and Voice of the Martyrs

Distributed by Vision Video
50 minutes

 

The story of Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand is very moving. While some say that it is “out of date” because the Soviet empire has come down, the story of Christian persecution is just as real today as it ever was.

 

Thousands of Christians are dying each year in Muslim countries and many other places. Please subscribe to “Voice of the Martyrs” newsletter and read the stories monthly of the brave Christians who will suffer torture and/or death rather than deny their Savior.[1] Give thanks to God for your freedom.

The video tells the story brilliantly. There is great narration, wonderful pictures, live interviews with their son, Mihai, and above all film footage of testimony from Richard and Sabina. The Wurmbrands relate the horror of their experiences at the same time as they praise God for seeing them through the torture. Their testimony is a wonderful inspiration to all. Both Richard and Sabina were able to show the love of Christ in the ultimate way – by forgiving their torturers.

Here is some background to the story:

Sabina Oster Wurmbrand was born on July 10, 1913 in Czernowitz in what was then called the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Today her country is known as Romania.

Sabina was born into a Jewish family. She was very intelligent. After graduating from high school in Czernowitz she attended the Sorbonne in Paris where she studied languages.

In 1936, at the age of 23, she met Richard Wurmbrand who was also born in a Jewish family. Richard and Sabina were soon married. In their early lives they sought to live the high life. They were virtually atheists. God was nowhere on their radar screens.

Then a miracle happened. While spending time in the mountains of Romania they came to Christ. They joined the Anglican church. Richard eventually was ordained as an Anglican minister. They were both on fire for Christ and began a successful ministry witnessing for Christ in Romania.

During WWII Sabina’s Jewish parents, two sisters, and one brother were killed in Nazi concentration camps. Richard and Sabina rescued many Jewish children from the ghettos where the Nazi’s were forcing the Jews to live. They also spent a lot of time in underground bomb shelters teaching the Bible.

They had a son, Mihai (Michael) during this time.

At the end of WWII the Russians poured into Eastern European countries. They forced everyone into communism. The communists took control of the churches and attempted to use them for propaganda purposes. They organized a “Congress of Cults.” Many religious leaders attended including Richard and Sabina. One by one the religious leaders began to swear loyalty to the communists. They praised the communists even though they knew that religion was really being repressed.

“Richard and Sabina were disgusted by the actions of their fellow leaders. Sabina said, ‘Richard, stand up and wash away this shame from the face of Christ.’ Richard replied, ‘If I do, you’ll lose your husband.’ But Sabina said what Richard knew in his heart: ‘I don’t wish to have a coward as a husband.’ Richard stood up in front of the four thousand delegates as so many had done before him. But instead of praising communism, he bravely declared that the church’s duty is to glorify God and Christ alone.”[2]

Then on February 29, 1948, Richard was arrested by the secret police and put into solitary confinement. He was tortured for many years in the prison, but he didn’t let his time go to waste. He found a way, using Morse code, to communicate the Gospel to other prisoners.

Sabina was also arrested and spent three years in prison, leaving Mihai, now nine years old, homeless. Sabina worked on the Danube Canal project doing slave labor. During this time she was also tortured by being made to stand continually in a small room. No bigger than a closet, the walls had spikes on them so Sabina could not even lean over for comfort.

Eventually Sabina was released. Authorities told her that Richard was dead. This wasn’t true. Richard was being moved around from prison to prison all the while suffering horrible torture.

During this time Sabina carried on the ministry. She shared the Gospel and gave away bibles whenever she could.

After about 8 years a Christian doctor contrived Richard’s release. Imagine how happy Sabina and Mihai were to see him! He was warned not to preach. This did not stop the Wurmbrands. They just went back to the underground church and continued their ministry.

In 1959 Richard was betrayed by an associate who accused him of preaching against communism. Richard was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison. This time the captors used psychological torture as well as physical torture.

Sabina was told that Richard had died, but this time she didn’t believe it. Shae carried on their work believing that God was with them.

In 1964, hearing about his illegal treatment, Western countries began to put political pressure on the communists to release Richard. The Norwegian Mission to the Jews negotiated with the Romanian government to release Sabina and Richard for $10,000. The Wurmbrands left the country so that they could be a voice for the persecuted church in the West.

In 1967 Sabina and Richard formed an organization to help the persecuted church; they called it “Jesus to the Communist World”. Later it became a world wide organization and the named it “The Voice of the Martyrs.” It is still active today. My husband and I give financial support and I strongly recommend that every Christian should give something out of thanksgiving for our freedom in the United States. There are still many thousands of Christians being persecuted around the world. You can go to this site:

https://secure.persecution.com/projects_feature.aspx?categoryID=72&source=WEB

After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990, Richard and Sabina were finally able to return to Romania. They were happy to be able to do more for the Christians there. The new mayor of Bucharest offered to let them use the basement of the palace of the former dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, to store bibles. This was the same building where Richard had been housed in solitary confinement for three years. They continued to be a voice for the helpless for many years.

Sabina went to be with the Lord in 2000. Richard followed his beloved, wise, and strong companion in 2001.

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Go to their website and sign up: https://www.persecution.com

 

[2] From “Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand: Founders of Voice of the Martyrs”, http://www.plough.com/en/topics/faith/witness/richard-and-sabina-wurmbrand

 

 

Read Full Post »

Amy Carmichael: Mother to the Motherless

Produced by Christian History Institute

Distributed by Vision Video

58 minutes in length, with a special 29-minute abridged version, Spanish language and English and Spanish subtitles.

 

 

This is one of the most moving videos I have ever seen. Amy Carmichael’s life has always been an inspiration to me. In this production, the story is beautifully told with photographs and drawings. Narrators include:

– Jonathan Clarke, pastor of the Welcome Church, established by Amy in Belfast
– Margaret Holland of the Dohnavur Fellowship
– Dr. Nancy Robbins, who nursed Amy during her final years of illness
– Elisabeth Eliot, who considers Amy Carmichael as a chief influence in her life also adds commentary.

The story is told well and doesn’t need much background or introduction, but here are some notes to share with others. This video would be great for any Bible study or Sunday School class for adults and especially children!!

One of the truly great, faithful missionaries of recent times was Amy Carmichael. Amy was born in the small village of Millisle in Northern Ireland, December 16, 1867, to devout Presbyterian parents, David and Catherine Carmichael. She was the oldest of seven children. In many ways she was an unlikely candidate for missionary work. She suffered neuralgia, a disease of the nerves that made her whole body weak and achy and often put her in bed for many weeks at a time. Her friends thought that she was foolish for wanting to go on the mission field. They didn’t think she would be able to take the strain for very long, but Amy was certain that God was calling her to go overseas.

Amy was a bright child, but a bit rambunctious. God would use this strong personality in His plans for Amy’s work on the mission field. She always went to God in prayer first, but then proceeded to do whatever it took to accomplish her task.

Influences in her life:
Her father died when she was young. She helped her mother care for her siblings.

Amy worked among the female millworkers sharing Christ with them.

Robert Wilson, founder of the Keswick Convention, cared for her during one of her bouts of neuralgia. He helped her to go to Japan as one of the first missionaries sponsored by the Keswick’s. She left there due to illness.

Amy searched for another missionary opportunity. With the help of the Zenana Missionary society she went to India.

Amy worked with the poor children. When she heard about the temple children she tried to find a way to get into the temples. She put on a sari and stained her skin brown so that she could pass as a Hindu. This was a bold move, but definitely in line with her stubborn and adventurous personality. God had made her this way, and she was up to the task.

 

 

Amy knew that the Lord was in charge of her life. She nearly went to prison for the rescue, considered a “kidnapping” in India, of one young girl. Amazingly, the case was dismissed. God was protecting and working through this faithful woman.

After thirty years of work among her beloved adopted people, she went on to found a place of safety for the young children in India. The organization she founded was known as the Dohnavur Fellowship. Dohnavur is situated in Tamil Nadu, just thirty miles from the southern tip of India. She rescued more than one thousand children who would otherwise have faced an uncertain, but probably dismal future. She desired to build a hospital as well. The hospital she founded is still there today and works with the aged people in India. There is also a school for the mentally and physically disabled.

In 1931, Amy was badly injured in a fall, which left her bedridden much of the time until her death. Even when she became old and infirm, she would praise God for her circumstances, because it would give her a chance to pray and write books and poetry. Prayer was the center of her life, and she became a great spiritual witness for thousands of others.

Amy Carmichael died in India in 1951 at the age of 83, after twenty years of being bedridden. Many people in such trials might complain to God about their illnesses. But Amy had learned to trust God in whatever circumstance He put in her life. Though she longed to be working among her people, she allowed God to use her where He put her. She did not waste time feeling sorry for herself. Many people were inspired by her cheerfulness and kind words. She used the time to write over thirty books, and now many people can be blessed by her work, thanks to her faithfulness and love for Christ.

“He hath never failed thee yet.Never will His love forget.O fret not thyself nor let Thy heart be troubled,Neither let it be afraid.”                                        Amy Carmichael

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

“Hildegard: One of the Most Remarkable Women of the Middle Ages”
Distributed by: Vision Video
52 minutes.

Hildegard was an astonishing woman who left us her remarkable legacy in books, drawings, songs, and plays. Her works are beautiful and lasting. They have also stood the test of time because of the spiritual comfort that they still bring to thousands today.

The setting of the video is at the monastery of St. Disibod on the Rhine in central Germany. The events portrayed are those leading up to Hildegard’s examination and trial for heresy in 1148. Hildegard cared for people the way she believed Jesus would care for them. The abbot, concerned only with his legalistic rules, disagreed with the way Hildegard cared for these people and put her and the abbey under interdict – a punishment. They were commanded not to sing. They could not receive the sacraments. Hildegard did not back down. Eventually she lodged a protest with the superior of the Abbot. A trial was held where she was completely vindicated.

Later in a vision Hildegard realizes it is time to move. The video ends with Hildegard and the nuns and their priest making the move to Bingen where she would found a monastery. There, Hildegard continued her labors until her death in 1179 at the age of 82.

This production of Hildegard’s life includes illustrations in a beautiful and stunning fashion that portray what some of Hildegard’s visions may have looked like. They are based on Hildegard’s drawings in the Scivia. A group of nuns (female actors with beautiful voices?) perform some of Hildegard’s music. You will be uplifted as you hear the praises to God sung by these women.

 

 

Some background before you watch the video:

Hildegard of Bingen (1098 – 1179) is best known as a twelfth-century abbess with an extraordinary mind and she is known for her visions. Whatever one thinks about the subject of visions and dreams, certainly Hildegard was a wise, talented, intelligent, dedicated, and devout Christian woman who rose above her circumstances to serve God in extraordinary ways. She has been authenticated by the pope in her day (Eugene III) and recently by Pope Benedict.

Hildegard became a nun while just a young girl. We do not know much about her next few years, except that she must have been a good assistant to the mother of the abbey who was also her aunt, Jutta. When her aunt died in 1136, Hildegard was chosen to be the abbess in her place. Hildegard was thirty-eight years old.

As the mother of the abbey Hildegard sought to lead a life of holiness and to encourage the other nuns to do likewise. Of major importance to her was caring for the poor as Jesus did. Though she tried to stay within the church’s rules sometimes she went her own way out of compassion. In the video you will see two incidents that were typical of how Hildegard cared for the humans under her protection – a young persecuted girl that she rescued, and a dying soldier from the Crusades. The abbot wanted to just toss these people out as heretics, but Hildegard showed them the love of Jesus.

Later Hildegard moved to a place where she could run the abbey without interference from less than spiritual men who only loved control. She personally oversaw the construction of the new convent at Rupertsberg, near Bingen, Germany. They moved into the new convent in 1150, and she became known as Hildegard of Bingen.

One of her many talents was writing. Around 1141, she had begun to write a book, Scivias, (or Sciens Vias, “Know the Way”), which eventually took her ten years to complete. This book included 26 drawings of things that she had seen in her visions.

You will see some of these drawings and visions illustrated in the video. She claimed that these visions helped her to understand the Old and New Testaments. Men and women of her day, including the well-known Bernard of Clairvaux, endorsed her visions. Many believed that she could understand the past, present, and future. She astonished people by claiming things which later came true.

Here in her own words is a description of one of her visions:

It happened in the year 1141 of the Incarnation of God’s Son Jesus Christ, when I was forty-two years and seven months old, that the heavens were opened and a fiery light of great brilliance came and suffused my whole brain and set my whole heart and breast afire like a flame – yet not burning but warming, as the sun warms an object on which it sheds its rays. And suddenly I came to understand the meaning of the book of Psalms, the Gospel, and the other canonical books of both the Old and New Testaments — … in a marvelous way, I had sensed the power and mystery of secret, wonderful visions in myself from girlhood, from the age of five, even to the present time.”   

After Scivias, Hildegard wrote other books, including the Book of Life’s Merits, and the Book of the Divine Works. She wrote these in Latin, the language of educated men, even though she had not been formally trained in it.

Many people sought Hildegard’s wisdom. Archbishop Philip of Cologne was repeating what many Christians thought when he said that Hildegard had divine gifts including the gift of prophecy.

During her lifetime, Hildegard composed over 70 vocal works. In the 1980’s they were rediscovered and many have now been recorded. She had composed the music and the lyrics. Her works show her love and her longing for Christ.

When she was about sixty years old, retirement age for many people today, Hildegard undertook several preaching tours. As she traveled around, she even preached to men, a fact which shows how much respect she had gained by this time. Her sermons sound much like many we hear today; she taught on the corruption of the Church and how it needed cleansing. She gave a tongue lashing to those who were “lukewarm and sluggish” in living the Christian life. She berated those who were slow in justice for the poor.

Hildegard died at age eighty-two on September 17, 1179. With her lifelong learning and perseverance, she overcame many obstacles for women in her day. She had seized the opportunities placed before her and worked to her limits. She became one of the most influential women of the Middle Ages and is still loved today.

 

Read Full Post »

“Journey Into the Unknown” Hanneke van Dam
Hanneke van Dam (with others) for narration.
Eric Velu is the director
This video was released on April 19, 2007 and is 52 minutes long.
Available at Amazon or Vision Video.

 

Not very many people would be willing to give up everything in their lives – a good living, home, family, modern comforts, and freedom to choose where you will go and what will you do – in order to serve others.

The video I would like to recommend this week is a documentation of the life of one woman who left her comfortable life behind to serve Jesus by caring for some of the neediest people on earth.

Hanneke van Dam answered God’s call on her life to go to Mongolia, one of the coldest and most desolate places in the world. 80 to 90 percent of the problems there are caused by alcohol. This results in poverty, broken families and violent behavior.

In 1995 Hanneke was working as a child psychologist at the courthouse in Amsterdam when she attended a conference where Jackie Pullinger was speaking. (see my post on this blog April, 2015, for more information on Jackie Pullinger, a Christian missionary in Hong Kong who has helped thousands of drug addicts to recover.) Hanneke was moved to do something for people who were living in poverty.

The morning after hearing Jackie speak Hanneke was cleaning her mother’s house. Hanneke was praying that God would direct her life. She wanted to help others as Jackie was doing. Hanneke describes in the interview in this video that she heard the voice of God clearly say “Mongolia”. Hanneke did not even know where Mongolia was on the map when God called her to go there.

Hanneke had been working in the capital city of Ulan Bator for 5 years before this documentary was made. In the video, viewers will see a typical rescue of a drunk on the street. With the temperature of 30 degrees below zero, the man would have died within a few hours if left alone there. Hanneke sees the people as broken human beings whose lives can be mended with the good news of the Gospel. She worked tirelessly and unselfishly to help those who seemed without hope. Seeing how devoted she was to people, the mission asked Hanneke to go to remote areas and she accepted the direction as a call from God.

Work in the villages was difficult. Some of the really great joys were telling the Gospel to people who had never heard of Jesus. Seeing the light in their eyes motivated Hanneke to continue to live in a remote place. On the other hand, there were many problems for the new believers. There was more work than one woman could do. Hanneke trained some young female believers to help her.

Just as Hanneke was motivated by Jackie Pullinger to go and take the Gospel of healing to a poor nation, my prayer is that Hanneke’s story will move Christians to go and serve Christ in Mongolia or any other country where the needs are great.

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Corrie Ten Boom: A Faith Undefeated

(Running time – 55 minutes)

(Produced by Christian History Institute; distributed by Vision Video)

 

Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.

 

 

 

 

 

Corrie ten Boom was born and raised in Holland. She was a middle-aged woman when World War II started. The Germans quickly took control of Holland.

The Nazis were persecuting the Jews wherever they had control and this included Holland. Corrie’s family decided to help the Jews though it was against the law. They put their lives at risk for doing this. I would recommend either the book The Hiding Place (published 1971) or the movie of the same name (released 1975) for you to get the whole remarkable story of the courage of Corrie ten Boom and her family.

The ten Boom’s got involved with the Dutch underground to help people escape from the Nazi’s. They built a secret room in their house – The Hiding Place – and hid Jews there when the Nazi’s came around for a search. The ten Boom’s risked their lives to save as many people as possible.

One day in 1944 they were betrayed. For their “crimes” Corrie and Betsie were sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp. Their father Casper was ill and he died after only a few days in prison.

Corrie miraculously hid her little bible from the cruel camp guards. She and Betsie were able to lead a Bible study in the freezing cold, flea infested barracks. Betsie died while in the prison but not before giving Corrie an amazing prophecy. Betsie told Corrie that they would be free before the New Year. She also told Corrie, “We shall go everywhere telling people that there is no place on earth so dark that God’s love cannot shine into it. They will believe us, because we have been here in Ravensbruck.”

Betsie was ‘freed’ from her pain and suffering to go to be with Jesus late in December, 1944. Corrie was miraculously freed on December 31, 1944.

Corrie spent the rest of her life traveling around the world preaching about God’s forgiveness and the need for reconciliation. She also built homes for concentration camp survivors. She built one at Bloemendaal, turning Betsie’s dream into a reality.

Corrie had a chance to put her own principles of forgiveness and reconciliation into action when she came face to face with one of her former guards from Ravensbruck.

In 1947, Corrie had been speaking at a church when a man came up to her to tell her that he had accepted Christ as his savior. He thanked Corrie for her message and said that he was grateful that his sins had been forgiven. He now extended his hand to Corrie and asked her for her forgiveness.

This man had been one of the especially wicked guards. Corrie and Betsie had been ordered to strip naked to be inspected by this man. There was no need for this practice other than to humiliate the women. Now as Corrie faced this man memories of that humiliation came back. Visions of the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of women’s clothes on the floor, and the pain on her gentle sister’s face came to her mind. Corrie was boiling inside.

Corrie stiffened her back. When the man extended his hand she kept her own hand at her side. How could she forgive this man after all of the cruel things he had done? But she prayed, “Lord Jesus, forgive me and help me to forgive him.” Corrie tried to smile. She struggled to raise her hand but found it impossible. She prayed again for Jesus to help her. She remembered that Christ had died for this man too. How could she ask for more?

Finally, she took his hand and later recounted, ” …the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me. And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.”

“I forgive you with all my heart,” she said to the man and she meant it.

Corrie moved to America in 1977. In 1978 she was paralyzed by a stroke. Corrie went to be with the Lord on April 15, 1983 on her 91st birthday. Truly Corrie ten Boom’s story is a wonderful example of Christian faith and forgiveness.

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Starring Cicely Tyson

(Running time – 200 minutes)
(Distributed by Xenon Pictures, Inc., available at: Amazon.com)

“I’ll meet you in de mornin’,
When you reach de promised land;
On de oder side of Jordan,
For I’m boun’ for de promised land.”

During the cruel oppression of black people in the nineteenth century, many prayed for freedom. Some felt overwhelmed and helpless, but one woman who did something about it was Harriet Tubman, the little lady who rescued three to four hundred slaves in the mid-nineteenth century, earning the title, of a “Moses to her people”.

Harriet would not blame God for any hard circumstances but acknowledge that her difficult upbringing prepared her for the tasks ahead of her when she followed her calling to rescue slaves.

This video is a wonderful presentation of Harriet Ross Tubman’s life. (The production quality of my copy was rather poor; I think it was a copy of other videos.) But this video is still worth getting and watching with the whole family. Slavery is a cruel evil and it is inconceivable how Christians let it go on for so long in our country before finally ending it. This story is indispensable for students of black history.

The performance by Cicely Tyson is wonderful. She should have gotten an Academy Award for a very believable and sympathetic portrayal of Harriet Tubman.

Highlights from Harriet Tubman’s life:

Harriet was able to discern the voice of the Lord speaking to her, warning her and giving her guidance. Because of this she was able to avoid capture many times. She said that she always knew when danger was near and she would know that something bad was going to happen.

Because she was on the run, Harriet slept in wet swamps or in potato fields where she could lie hidden. Besides the obvious risk to her health there was always danger of being spotted. Her faith was portrayed in the movie, but not as much as I would have liked to see. If you get the book, you will see that Harriet always gave the credit to God for her escapes.
All through the War Between the States Harriet rescued slaves and nursed wounded soldiers. She was never paid for her efforts. Harriet remained poor for the rest of her life but she never complained.

Harriet died on March 10, 1913, in Auburn, New York. All through her life she had depended on the Lord and God had never disappointed her trust in Him.

Her life is an example of what can be done, even in the most horrible of circumstances, when a person does not give up or give in. Harriet’s attitude in life made all the difference in the world. Here we sit in our comfort and can’t seem to find time to help those around us. Harriet accomplished much in spite of illness, threats, poverty, and danger all around her. Her childlike faith and determination is an example for us all.

 

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »