Every once in a while I read a book, have a conversation, or see a movie that makes me simultaneously horrified and grateful. I’ve often thought how our Father in Heaven must weep when he looks down on Africa and other countries in similar circumstances. Africa is flanked on both sides by civilizations that not only outstrip it it wealth, prosperity, and technological advancements, but are also vying for political and military domination. In the never-ending battles between the East and the West, the areas in between have been shunted aside, abused, and only thought of when it can serve a political purpose.
I am, admittedly, not an expert on African history. The little I do know exclusively involves bloodbaths between warring tribes, slavery, warlords, apartheid, and widespread infectious disease. Whatever the conditions, I am positive that the people of these destitute and war torn nations are no less beloved to our merciful and benevolent Father than those of us who are blessed to be born into prosperous conditions.
I wasn’t sure what I was going to get when I sat down to watch Freetown. Soon after I turned it on, Lucy sat down and immediately started asking me questions about what she was seeing. Why are the rebels hunting the Krahn? Why did they shoot that man? Why can’t they just leave those people alone? Her tone grew more indignant with each question until she she threw her arms up and screamed, “I don’t CARE what the government did! That is NO excuse to kill innocent people! They didn’t do anything wrong, they were just minding their own business!”
How do you explain to your twelve year old that some people are so obsessed with hatred and revenge that they aren’t capable of feeling compassion or kindness? Or that some value money and power more than human life. I tried explaining the best I could but eventually I said, “I just don’t know. War does terrible things to people.”
Freetown is the true story of six Liberian missionaries who flee their homeland to escape a civil war. As they head to Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, more than one miracle aid them on their perilous journey and help shield them from one particularly vengeful rebel fighter who refuses to let a single Krahn escape his grasp. From the first scene I was touched by the courage and devotion of the Liberian Saints. One of the opening scenes shows a woman being baptized in a river, surrounded by supportive and loving brothers and sisters in Christ –and a rebel fighter, protecting the performance of this sacred ordinance with an automatic rifle.
Do we have any idea how fortunate we are? Several months ago I decided to step away from politics. I still stand by the principles that guide my political affiliations and ideologies, but I no longer look to government to solve our problems. I now know what these brave Liberian Elders knew: That the philosophies of man can and will never liberate the children of God. When faced with a choice between continuing to hiding in Monrovia, ending their missions and going home to their families, or risking their lives to preach the Word of God in Sierra Leone, they chose the latter. They knew that, as Alma said:
…that there is no other way or means whereby man can be saved, only in and through Christ. Behold, he is the life and the light of the world. Behold, he is the word of truth and righteousness.
My experiences the last few months are a microcosm of what is necessary to solve the problems of the world. War, poverty, disease, racism –everything that divides us can only be solved and healed through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Atonement of Jesus Christ has the power to change hearts, inspire medical discoveries and technological advances, increase love and understanding, and lift the downtrodden. Over and over again I watched the portrayal of these young men who risked their lives to serve their God and spread the good news of his Atoning sacrifice to those who hunger for anything that can bring them hope. This message is for everyone. God’s love is for everyone.
I’m so grateful for the faith of these inspiring missionaries and their courage in taking the Gospel to anyone they could reach. They may not have directly impacted my life, but I know what it feels to be alone and scared (albeit because of very different circumstances) and I know how the hearts of those they taught filled with hope and how their eyes filled with tears when they felt the unconditional love and support of a beloved Father. I know those missionaries (and all who preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ) changed the lives of those who allowed their message into their hearts.
When Freetown, Lucy stood up and said, “I’m so glad we watched that.” High praise for a twelve year old and her mom. I’m giving away two copies of this amazing movie! Just leave a comment to be entered to win!