Last night, I watched a deeply powerful film.
The story is based on the book of the same name about a real-life South African farmer named Angus Buchan. Buchan accepted Jesus at a moment of crisis and began experiencing miracles, ranging from sudden rain putting out a wildfire to reviving a woman struck by lightning.
(Note: There is a death scene of a child that might be too graphic for some people.)
The Conversion Story
His character is developed from the beginning as the self-made man, broken by anger, rage, failure, and fear.
In one scene, he’s drowning his sorrows in alcohol that he vomits on an acquaintance. In another, he assaults and punches a driver who cuts him off.
A friend invites his wife to breakfast at a church.
He doesn’t want to go and is angered over the issue of wearing a tie, but he goes at her insistence.
He goes to the breakfast, where a stranger invites him to church on Sunday.
For reasons not explained in the film, he attends church the next day, hears the testimony of someone’s life change by following Jesus, and the pastor gives a simple invitation to surrender one’s life to Jesus.
During that testimony and invitation, flashbacks from Buchan’s childhood are shown, where a missionary is telling the young Buchan about the Lord.
Those seeds of faith from his childhood, the present circumstances in his life, and the working of the Holy Spirit come together in a moment where Buchan responds to the invitation and offers his life to the Lord.
Here is a trailer:
Feed Readers, see the video trailer: Trailer from Faith Like Potatoes
Conversion in the film Flywheel
The story line reveals the struggles of the main character and all the circumstances that the Holy Spirit uses to bring this man to the place of surrendering his life to Jesus Christ.
The main character is a liar, a cheat, and morally bankrupt. His marriage is falling apart, bills are stacking up, bank threatening to foreclose, and his own son doesn’t want to be like him.
One night, flipping through the TV channels, he hears a preacher who says the right words that speak deep to his heart.
“You are in this mess because of the decisions you made.”
On top of all other circumstances, this one line hits the man deep in the heart. He turns off the TV, kneels on the floor, and invites Christ into his life with his own prayer.
The uniqueness of the mystery of Christian Conversion
Different seeds, different circumstances, different personalities, different portrayals of the experience of Christian conversion.
I think of my own conversion experience.
Different seeds planted early in life, different circumstances, situation, and so on.
The Holy Spirit, as the author of the story of my life, wove together the different elements to bring me to a place where I decided to follow Jesus.
In my case, I wanted to know God.
In my search and discovery, I learned that to know God, I needed to start following Jesus.
My conversion experience was driven by a thirst to know who God is.
I started following Jesus so that I could start to know God.
Different story, different need, different life situation.
Neither character, nor myself prayed a “repeat after me” prayer formula.
Their conversion was real, though the action of their responses was entirely different.
- One character stood up and walked forward.
- One character kneels and prays on his own, in his own words.
- I remember saying, “I’m going to follow Jesus.” I don’t remember praying, because I didn’t know what that was.
The genuine conversion experience is a work of the Holy Spirit unique in each individual.
We can’t restrict conversion to following a formula. The act of praying can make an X marks the spot type of surrender, but the prayer itself is not a formula. (See my thoughts at The Mystery of Christian Conversion).
God is the one who works conversion in the human heart.
As evangelists, preachers, and individuals who call people to start following Jesus, we can offer to pray with them, we can help them pray, but we are to help them respond to what God is doing in their heart.
Praying is one form of response to God’s awakening.
In the coming posts next week, I’ll tie this into:
- Postmodern Evangelism: Find Your Story
- Postmodern Evangelism: Discover Their story.
- Postmodern Evangelism: Connect to God’s story.
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