An American Icon and an African Story

The death of an American icon, Steve Jobs, captured the headlines and induced reminiscence by many last week. He was a creative and marketing genius, no doubt, and I appreciate the products he introduced into American life. For a while, his death took center stage in the midst of a growing protest of Wall Street's excesses. But my heart has been captured by a young South African girl named Chanda.
(BTW, the girls in this photo are from Ethiopia © tkbeyond)


This past weekend my wife and I watched "Life, Above All," a story of redemption out in movie-version. I'd like to read the book. I don't often recommend movies because people's tastes and tolerance differ so widely. It's not much of a match for "Transformers" or the "Twilight" movies (neither of which I've watched or recommend, btw). The story gives a real glimpse of life in South Africa, which is played out in many other countries. It is also another real-life view from MOTROW that I spoke of last week.

I love stories of redemption. One of my favorites is "Les Miserables," by Victor Hugo. If you've never read it, I highly recommend it. If you're not a reader, there's free audio versions (just check online), and you might want to start with an abridged version. It's a great story that's better than the movie or play (although good as well). Redemption for Christians usually focuses on forgiveness of sin, as it should. But the idea of redemption is much broader. If nothing more, it is the extension of forgiveness, God's mercy, to others. This is what I saw in this movie and in Chanda, a twelve-year old girl coming of age in a remote South African village.

The story begins with the death of a baby girl, the child of Chanda's mother by a different father. This is a family broken by grief, a somewhat classic modern-day tragedy. Chanda's natural father had died, and the man her mother had married bore three other children. This man also dies, but of a merciless death. His body was ravaged with a disease attached with shame and fear—a disease present in the whole world, but especially prevalent in MOTROW. It's a disease provoking harsh judgment, fear, and rejection, as well as shame.

This is not a feel-good movie. It's a "reality movie" in the truest sense. What it portrays is played out daily in many countries, along with South Africa. But it is a movie of redemption, and this is why Chanda captured my heart—she is an example of redemption overcoming harsh judement, fear, rejection and shame. I don't want to spoil the movie for you, and I can't do justice to how it's told. But I saw God's redemption in Chanda as reflected by the words of the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 61:1-2)—the same words Jesus read, in Luke 4:18-19, announcing His being the Messiah who had come to set people free—to redeem all people.

BTW, there's a worldwide ministry called He Intends Victory that  extends God's redemption as the answer for a powerful disease—a disease affecting millions throughout the world. There is hope, even when death seems inevitable. It is a living hope named Jesus Christ—the Redeemer of all humanity.

Redemption is not just something we receive from God for ourselves. It's to be lived out in daily life, as seen in the lives of Jean Luc (in Les Miserables) and Chanda. If you've received God's redemption in your own life, is it being lived out for the benefit of others? This a part of the Great Commission, as expressed by Jesus in Luke 24:47 and John 20:21–23. Redemption isn't just a theory, it's a reality to be lived out daily.

PS– I don't get many comments, so I often wonder if these posts are being read. Let me know, if you would. And if they're a blessing to you, pass them on—retweet, repost, or share in some other way. Thanks for reading.