Into His Arms

Into His Arms

Into His Arms: Letting Go and Letting God

This drama film released in 1999 revolves around a 7-year-old girl named Jennifer and her mom Sharla. A well-off family in a community surrounded by friends. Until one day, the two went shopping to find a nice dress Jennifer can wear at her first piano recital. Sharla coaxed her daughter to try out a dress while she gets busy choosing other dresses for her. After a few minutes, her daughter was not there anymore. Fear surged Sharla knowing that Jennifer wouldn’t leave the shop without her. This story is a reminder to every parent to always be watchful of your child even as you go to the same old shop.

Sharla was remorseful to the point of having nightmares about the incident. Her husband Jim blamed her. Her sorrow was beyond words. Neighbours reached out to her but she became reclusive. She attempted to resist her friend Bren who bought some groceries to ease her chores. She offered to pay knowing she’s more financially able than her but Bren was quick to remind her that she’s willing to lend a hand because she was her friend. Later on, we learned Bren lost her husband on a road accident. Sharla asked how she managed to cope and her reply was that she asked God for comfort. Their conversation scene showed us how good it was to have an understanding and encouraging friend especially in times when our heart gets troubled.

They found the body of Jennifer in the woods. However, Gary cannot just accept what happened. He believes that Jennifer can’t simply run away and die like that. A police officer told him to close the case since they know enough. What triggered Gary was this guy’s statement that if he is going to chase phantoms, it will just hurt everyone. Gary was persistent to pursue his investigations further. Instinct and conscience was his guide for running after the truth. And sometimes, it is the gut feeling that tells us that something’s wrong. Gary’s persistence leads him to track Sharla’s neighbour and family friend Bill. His capture revealed the real story behind the untimely death of the girl.

This film is an eye-opener. Some pain never goes away like losing a loved one. We learned that forgiveness for the offender allows her to rebuild her faith. Sharla may not have granted her forgiveness to Bill at this time. Just maybe, she’ll come around to it once she becomes ready to forgive herself and heal her wounded soul thereafter.

We question God for tragedies that come our way. The message is for us to acknowledge that by submitting Into His Hands our lives, we let go of the pain and we let God unfold a new us as we move on.

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Runaway Hearts

Runaway Hearts

Runaway Hearts: The Courage to Live

This film tells a compelling story about two kids who ran away from home and came across two adults who ran away from their past circumstances. An 11-year-old Tevin and 5-year-old Angel have the same mom Maze but different fathers who they haven’t met.

The story took a turn when one day, Maze overdose on drugs. On impulse, Tevin drags Angel out of the house until the ambulance took their mom’s body away. Tevin takes his mom’s boyfriend Dill’s drug money. He thought he needed a bike so they can go farther. The kids went to Gabe’s yard, and Tevin took one of his bikes, but Angel prodded to return it.

As viewers, we think they were too young to experience this kind of messy ordeal. But it happens in real life. Tevin showed us the survival instincts of an elder brother who was out to save and protect his little sister from the odds they face.

Meanwhile, Gabe was attending a counselling session after his release from jail. He was hard on himself after a trauma he experienced when he was a teenager. His dad frequently hits his mom. He was coming home from school when his parents died from a car crash. His younger brother Jerry sustained severe injuries.

Unfortunately, social services separated them. Jerry ended up with abusive foster parents. Gabe became an architect but resorted to alcohol to ease his pain. He was drunk-driving when he crashed into a bus resulting in multiple injuries on the passengers, which is why he was in jail. Gabe’s pain runs deep into his soul. Issues we face like cruelty from people who are supposed to care for us takes a long time to heal. Only God’s mercy can save our soul from self-incrimination.

After being away from their town for a long time, Gabe returns to his former home. Emma was his love interest when they were young. She would catch him looking at her from afar. Emma and Gabe were both lonely souls who yearn to love and love in return. They tell us that their separation from each other no matter how long a time it was cannot erase the love that they hold in their hearts.

The kids used Gabe’s treehouse as their shelter. Gabe kept mum to the authorities even when they knew about the kids’ whereabouts. Meanwhile, Dill trailed them and took the chance to retrieve his money. The culminating scene will leave you to the edge of your seats. The ending implied that Gabe and Emma could become adoptive parents to Tevin and Angel soon.

Ultimately, the film’s message is for us to use courage as a means of living a life that is better than our past. Gabe’s conversation with the counsellor taught us we can’t change what was, but we can change what will be. Our past experiences may influence our present and future self but not defined by it.

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Lion of Judah

Lion of Judah

Lion of Judah: A Lamb with a Lion’s Heart

This animated Christian film takes us to a tale of courage represented by a lamb named Judah.  The story opened with a crate brought to a stable near Jerusalem. The playful Judah meets Slink the rat, Horace the pig, Drake the rooster, Mighty the horse and Esme the cow. Each character displayed distinct traits that will surely amuse young audiences.

In particular, Mighty the horse always faints at the slightest fear over anything to think that he is the tallest animal in the pack. His character relates to us who seem to stand tall and yet, have fears over something at some point in our lives.

You can be great not by the stature of authority. But in being able to contribute something good for the welfare of others like these animals that look out for each other.

The story turned when Judah’s attempt to escape the stable failed. This time, Drake accidentally fell into the crate with him. The other animals set out a journey to Jerusalem to save them both. On their way, they meet Jack the donkey who goes the other way. However, the rope tied to his neck tangled into the pig’s snout. He was being rude to each of them that Esme demanded he should apologize. One heartwarming scene was when Jesus touched him and removed the rope from his neck. It was his sign of knowing freedom from slavery.

The raven’s dream needs further explaining to the youngsters. We need to explain that the crucifixion of Jesus did not only save the wages of mankind’s sins but the classification between clean and unclean animals as well.

They took Judah from the herd and made him believe that he is the chosen one.  That he will free other animals from captivity. He did not know that he will be a sacrificial lamb in the temple during Passover. The death of Jesus on the cross has shaken the earth and split the temple into two that saved Judah from being killed at the altar table.

The King’s death saddened the animals except for Judah who believes that He will come again. The lamb patiently waited to see The King outside the tomb. These scenes reminded us when Jesus showed Himself to the disciples and then to doubting Thomas. Blessed is he who has not seen but believed.

The film Lion of Judah is a delightful treat to watch for kids and the young at heart. It depicts courage for the faint-hearted and walking with faith for the believer. And a message of hope for everyone that Jesus overcame death to redeem us all.

Princess Cut Movie Review

Princess Cut

Princess Cut: A Christian Perspective on Courtship and Marriage

The film Princess Cut presents the meaning of the cliché true love is worth waiting for. Main character Grace is a dreamy naïve country girl who stares fascinated on a princess cut diamond ring at a shop. Since she was into a long distance relationship with college boy Stuart for 15 months, she assumed he would propose soon. He busted her bubbles in front of his other friends when he announced that he’s already engaged with another girl.

Grace showed a shallow outlook when it comes to getting into a relationship. When her mom asked what she liked about Stuart, she identified his traits as cute and smart, none of which pertains to his personality. Mom says she dated someone like that and he talks only about himself. In another scene, Grace told her dad she wanted to move near Stuart’s location. Her dad said that their land had endured three generations and a college boy is not worth to replace it. Grace accepted the cool barista from the café Jared as an immediate replacement to Stuart. He wanted intimacy. Grace felt she regretted it when he kissed her. Although in a state of confusion, she managed to confide and be honest with her parents. It means trustworthiness is intact within their family circle. With their guidance, she used tact to end her involvement with Jared.

The story had good scripting. There were several takeaways from mom and dad like let love find you. However, Grace didn’t know that marriage is not a be-all for a girl her age. While she is on a waiting game, she is not lacking in love because her family loves her. About losing Stuart, mom says it is not a total loss. She could have followed it up with you’re a wonderful girl as you are with or without a boyfriend. The amusing part was when her younger brother Andrew posted an ad just so a potential boyfriend can come to their doorstep. Dad says that marriage is a gift from God and he could have added so is singlehood.

Dr. Clint showed an old-fashioned way of courtship. He declared his intention of pursuing Grace for the possibility of marriage. While dad affirmed that Clint would do honorable things for Grace and God, he also vowed to protect her daughter in every step of the way. Both Clint and Grace agreed to explore a deeper friendship together.  Despite the odds like Jared and the doctor’s ex-girlfriend Brooke, the story ended with getting the princess cut diamond ring in Grace’s finger.

Lastly, the soybean analogy is a great lesson to remember. There’s a season of planting and harvesting. There’s a proper time for everything under the sun. Courtship paves the way to marriage so both man and woman should take time to know each other and by placing the word of God in the center of the relationship, it could lead to a lasting partnership.

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Molokai: Father Damien’s Selfless Devotion

Molokai

Molokai: Father Damien’s Selfless Devotion

Molokai, a small isolated isle in Hawaii. This film dramatically presented the struggles of Father Damien who volunteered to minister to the lepers in exile.

This story took place during the late 1800s. During that time, people with leprosy are outcast of society. Father Damien knew he could acquire the disease and yet, he accepted his mission with an open heart. His dedication towards his vocation made him go further lengths when it comes to serving the people regardless of their condition.

Upon his arrival at the island, a Lutheran gentleman warned him of the situation. They’re doing everything to prevent the spread of the disease. He also meets an Englishman who once was a medical assistant before becoming a leper. The Englishman warns the priest about having the same fate as his should he stay there longer.

He finds a ruined chapel and cleans it. Later on, he planted trees on the mountainside. Father Damien helped in building a hospital for the sick.  The priest showed resilience in these scenes. He makes the most out of what he can do with the available resources to help himself and the people residing in Molokai.

In another angle, he found out that the person of authority is a drunkard and a thief who operates a madhouse. At one scene, a mother requested him to fetch her teenage daughter there. He got enraged with what he saw and pulled some of the girls to send them home. A very ill man kissed him and because he didn’t flinch, everyone in the room is shocked. Father Damien even held the man in his arms and prayed for him. Since that incident, some people came to attend mass. They tested him and he remained forthright with his conviction.

The film also showcased coverups between church and government officials due to lack of interest in reaching out to the suffering people in Molokai. Father Damien’s letters appealing for provision became articles in the newspapers that dismayed the Prime Minister.

The captain of the ship refused to allow him onboard so he made his confession to the Bishop at sea. All the sick people are killed and thrown overboard. These leaders have no concern towards the lepers and prefer them dead.

The Prime Minister initiated building a hospital for lepers outside of Honolulu. So that all the government donations and nuns will not reach Molokai. He delayed granting permission to the nuns that when they came, Father Damien was already dying. The people of Molokai grieved for his death. But Father Damien fulfilled his mission and converted more souls to the Catholic faith.

Broken: A Tale between Vengeance and Forgiving

Broken

Broken: A Tale between Vengeance and Forgiving

The film Broken opened its story with a caption New Zealand (1836). The murder of a girl changes the course of history. The astonishing acts of forgiveness that follow bring peace between the warring tribes. The spirit of this story is inspired by hers. From these words alone, we were given a premise that the film’s main theme is the act of forgiving.

Main character Logan used to lead a gang called The Mad Bulls. He left them to raise his daughter Tori and settled himself as a boxing coach at a gym. Both of them enjoyed surfing just in time for sunrise. That morning, Logan’s former mate Murphy showed up on his dock to coax him to return to their brotherhood. Logan declined his offer even after knowing that the rival gang Pouakai was after him. All he wanted was a quiet life with his teenage daughter and nothing more.

Tori was a Christian. She invites her dad to come to church with her but he refused. She and her friend Josh picked up Jess so she can witness a worship performance at church. Jess later confessed that she planned to commit suicide if not for that invitation. These scenes remind us how a simple act of encouragement can save a life.

The story turned when the worried dad decided to fetch his daughter at church after not being home by the promised time. Logan drops by the boxing gym and sees his friend hurt, told him to find Tori sooner. He was still on the road when Tori picked up the phone at home. Men came and shoot her for dead with dad hearing it on his phone. Logan showed us how anger translated to wanting to avenge his daughter’s death. During Tori’s wake, he decided to put revenge in his hands and joined The Mad Bulls again.

Another pivotal character in this tale is Pouakai gang leader Cruz. He took Tori’s laptop in search for information but ended watching her video message about forgiveness. His mother was already confined at hospice care. In a short intimate chat, she told him to forgive everyone and himself so he could be set free. It was the same message bespoke by Tori.

Logan and Murphy came to kill Cruz’s mom. Logan was unable to act on it so Murphy pressed a pillow on top of her face. She was barely alive when Cruz came to see her. She reminded him to forgive everyone before passing on. Cruz made a noble act and that was to face Logan. Both men understood that they wanted to end the impending bloodbath. As it turns out, Murphy used Tori’s death as a match to ignite the fire between the two gangs so theirs can take over the town. He got shot dead as well.  In the end, Logan wore Tori’s cross necklace as a sign of his newfound faith in Christianity.

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Remember the Goal: Coaching the Pathway of Life

Remember the Goal

Remember the Goal takes place in a Christian school environment. It is Orange Hills’ first time to have a female coach. Main character Courtney just got out of college and was assigned to train an all-girls team. They will compete for cross-country race this season. Instead of pushing the girls to run faster, she instructed them to go slow that made her techniques questionable for both students and parents alike. They were quick to judge that she is unfit for the role.

In life, we meet people who are quick to judge us at face value especially when we work in a team. Some people forget that an individual’s cooperation contributes to teamwork. The top student runner Kristen did forget as she shows off to her coach that she runs faster than the rest of them.

The turning point was when Courtney kicked Kristen off the team for being defiant. As a result, Kristen got the other girls to quit with only five who stayed for training. Naysayers may influence our decisions but it is in ourselves that we determine which is a good or bad company for us.

There are disjointed subplots however, what’s good about this film were the short scenes showing each girl’s personal struggle. Ana’s dad pressures her to run faster so she can get a better rank off the charts. Rebecca’s mom was always scolding her about house chores. Heidi has an inferiority complex over Ana whom she thinks is always better than her. Katelyn’s father works far-away and missed to see her run in her earlier races. Shelby’s dad forbids her to date with boys at the age of 15.

The common problems among girls in middle school were brought up because it is where the role of parents, teachers or coaches comes into play. It is the stage in their lives where they needed guidance the most. We have seen here that Courtney’s advice and actions to guide the girls in the right pathway of life go beyond the sport and winning the game.

During their final practice, Courtney revealed the purpose of running at tempo pace and that is to build their endurance. She resembles practice with character building where patience, trust, and fortitude makes for a better athlete and a better person altogether.

Even in the race of life, we sometimes believe that getting ahead will lead us to achieve our goals faster. We press ourselves harder to win the race that we miss to see stumbling blocks on our way. We work harder that may end up wearing us down. That’s the lesson in this story.

The verse in Corinthians about whatever you do, do it for the glory of God means that winning is not the ultimate goal in life. Having the wisdom to rise up from adversaries may matter more. Our skills and wisdom came from God. We only need to acknowledge that in whatever we do.

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On Angel’s Wings: Intent of Prayer and Miracles

On Angel's Wings

On Angel’s Wings presented teenager issues in a lighthearted story.

McKenzie was a water girl in their soccer team. One day, Coach Carter ordered her to play after Amaya sprained her ankle. She kicked the ball out of range that the team lost the game. Just like any typical teenager, her worries include being teased, having no friends and feeling like a loser.

At some point in our lives, we had the same issues she has. We all experienced pain. And wished that we are on the winning side than being looked downcast as a failure. McKenzie almost followed Amaya’s prodding to quit the team.

However, Coach Carter told her it’s not winning that matters but trying to do the best she can each time she plays. Aside from practice, the Coach encouraged her to believe in herself.

In a subplot, McKenzie’s younger brother Josh was having difficulty reading in class. His teacher and classmates think he can’t read. But Josh speaks with clarity and sensibility in casual conversations with his sister, mom Amber and the preacher at church. His tutor showed patience in determining whether he was dyslexic. Feeling odd with himself, Josh visits the church to pray and not bother his mom or sister with his problems.

These scenes showed us that some people would be quick to judge us for falling short of their expectations, but some people are willing to open their hearts to motivate us to do better like the tutor and the preacher.

The story turned when the siblings wished for a miracle. Under different circumstances, both had a chance to encounter an angel. Angel Michael gave McKenzie three wishes.

Firstly, she wished to become rich after feeling embarrassed over an old pair of rubber shoes. She and Josh found a pouch full of money near the dumpster. They bought new clothes, but the surprised Amber told them to return the money. Her second wish was to become good at sports so she will be famous and have new friends. In spite of granting McKenzie’s wishes, the angel pointed out things that don’t won’t last.

In the movie, they subtly highlighted bullying. The girls who once teased McKenzie befriended her when she became a famous soccer player. They told her to discard her nerd brother, and in one instance, she did that hurt his feelings. Her mom advised her about choosing friends and not hurting the ones she loves to impress somebody else.

In the end, Angel Michael pointed out that believing in herself made her win the game. The intention of prayer is not for one’s self but for asking God to meet other people’s needs. McKenzie’s final wish was to enable her brother to read without glasses or surgery. Overall, we learned from this film that we are God’s angels sent to give others a miracle.

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October Baby: A Quest to Redeem an Identity

October Baby

The film October Baby has dramatically dealt a sensitive topic about failed abortion and its consequences. Main character Hannah was a freshman student who suffers seizures due to being born prematurely. After fainting onstage at a school play, her protective father Dr. Jacob consults a neurologist about her complications. Hannah overheard their conversation including that he read her journal where she noted feeling unwanted. She then insisted to know the cause of her health issues.

As it turns out, Hannah survived a failed abortion and that she was an adopted child. This revelation led to a quest to find her birth mother. Hannah wanted to know what happened to her mother and why she considered her as a case of unwanted pregnancy. These scenes showed us the emotion of a confused teenager with an identity concealed from her. We also saw the love of an adoptive father who kept the circumstances underlying her birth for as long as he can.

Right in time for spring break, Hannah travels with her childhood friend Jason and his buddies so they can drop her off to Mobile on the way to New Orleans. Jason’s girlfriend Alana gets jealous over Hannah so she called Dr. Jacob to confront him. What’s good about Jason is that he proves to Dr. Jacob that he can trust him as his daughter’s friend and companion. He left his buddies and girlfriend so he can go with Hannah. There was a chance for them to sleep in one bed in a hotel but they ended sleeping at a couch in the lobby instead. What they showed is young love that has pure intentions for each other.

There were several heartbreaking scenes in this film. Nurse Mary described in details to Hannah what happened when she and her twin brother was born. The incident left a trauma in her even at the passing of time. The second poignant scene was when Hannah’s birth mother Cindy saw her note on the table. In it were the words I forgive you and a hospital tag she used when Hannah was born. Cindy broke down in tears realizing the weight of her sin. She didn’t acknowledge Hannah as her daughter when they met. The pain was still there between them.

However, Hannah chose to forgive her even when she didn’t ask for it. The third tearful scene was when Dr. Jacob brought Hannah to her twin’s grave and told her about the lengths he and his wife took in order for her to live. Hannah finally had closure with her past and understood that it was her adoptive parents who wanted her in their lives.

Ultimately, the story’s message was as we are forgiven by Christ, we forgive those who sinned against us not because they deserve forgiveness. We have the power to choose to forgive because we deserve to free ourselves from the burden that hatred and regrets bring to our souls.

China Cry Movie Review

China Cry

China Cry: Keeping Christianity under Communist Invasion

The Christian movie China Cry is a riveting drama based on the life story of the main character Sung Neng Yee who became Nora Lam. The setting was in Shanghai in 1941, a decade before China’s Great Revolution. The Sung family belonged to the privileged class. Neng Yee was their pampered princess. Her childhood lifestyle ended when the Japanese army invaded Shanghai. These scenes tell us how a war between nations affects people from all walks of life regardless of stature.

There were several heartbreaking scenes in this film. Dr. Sung got detained in the hospital for days and was unjustly accused of stealing a large amount of money from the hospital. Soldiers marked their door and forced them to leave the house. These scenes pushed her to desire her professors’ respect. She fulfilled a feat when she ranked third highest honor on graduation day. She claims it as a moment that eased their humiliation. It reminds us that those who suffered quietly the most strive harder to overcome trials in life and those whose hurt runs deep endures pain in suffering. For Neng Yee, her graduation was the quiet victory that made her become strong-willed.

The film intensively deliberated on the depth of Capitalism and Communism’s ideology. In that era, officials of the New China insinuate that machines will replace workforce in all professions in the future. They believe that societies will collapse due to modern technology that is why they must impose forced labor.

Neng Yee married Cheng Shen who migrated from HongKong. Both knew the repercussions of their union and yet, they chose to stand by each other until the end. Love and commitment held their marriage especially when each of them went under detailed questioning about their personal lives. Their character as individuals and couple teaches us about trust, holding on and letting go when the situation calls for it.

During her detention, she wrote about her experience in a Christian boarding school. She recalled the learnings of faith and initiated talking to God. A female soldier forced her to admit that she is a Christian. She was punished through a firing squad. Miraculously, a strong wind saved her. By then she knew it was God that saved her. She began to feel a promise of hope.

The family continued to suffer but this time, Neng Yee was hopeful. While looking for milk for her second newborn, she found a small Christian group that prayed together. She joined their sessions until they got raided. These scenes mean that even under a pressured condition, Christians will gather to encourage one another using the word of God.

Neng Yee fought for her family’s exit visa. Like planting seeds of faith, she trusted the Lord’s way of granting them their freedom, one day at a time.