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Dunkirk: Searching For The Way Home

Photo taken from Official Trailer

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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Written By Caleb Young, Australia

What would you do to survive? And to what lengths would you go to save others?

These are the questions at the core of Dunkirk, an action-packed thriller of a war film based on real-life events at the French port town of Dunkirk during World War II.

Forced to the beaches of Dunkirk by the Nazi invasion of France, some 400,000 Allied—mainly British—troops were stranded. England was only 26 miles away across the English Channel but British Prime Minister Winston Churchill thought that no more than 40,000 men could be rescued—until a nationwide flotilla of military and civilian vessels brought some 334,000 men home.

The unending tension, immersive soundscape, unique storytelling, masterful filmmaking, and the extraordinary ensemble cast are just a few of the factors that make this an incredible cinematic experience and the best big-budget film of the year.

But as I consider my own Christian worldview, I realize that the film also speaks to how we treat the message of the saving power of Jesus’ sacrifice.

(Minor spoilers ahead.)

 

There Are Many People Who Need Saving

Just like on the beaches of Dunkirk back in 1940, there are desperate people all around us who are living in fear, searching for a way to escape. Just like the young soldiers Tommy and Gibson in the film who masquerade as medics to get on board a transport ship for the wounded, many people take measures into their own hands and put on masks to feel safe and protected. However, just as the transport ship in the film eventually sinks, the false sense of protection that the world offers will not save anyone.

 

We Need to Show Them the Way Out

In Dunkirk, the characters of Mr. Dawson, along with his teenage son Peter and deckhand George, know that their private boat—together with hundreds of other small boats—along the English coast are the key to saving the soldiers at Dunkirk. However, that knowledge alone will not save those men. They have to sail across the English Channel and show them their salvation. As Christians, we know “the way, the truth, and the life” that will save those around us. However, keeping that knowledge to ourselves will not help anyone. We must purposefully search out opportunities to share this amazing news with others.

 

Sharing the Good News with Others Isn’t Always Easy

The journey across the English Channel is a difficult one for Mr. Dawson, Peter, and George. Just like all the civilian volunteer vessels, they face the threat of German submarines and enemy aircraft throughout their entire journey. With uncertainty at every point, the sailors who went to Dunkirk needed bravery, determination, and even sacrifice to save those desperate souls across the sea.

Sharing the salvation that Christ offers to the world isn’t an easy task either. We also have an enemy working hard to weaken our faith and cause us to turn back. And yet, it is important that we face the difficult task like the sailors in Dunkirk did, with courage and fortitude—ready to give sacrificially to save others.

 

Human beings are prepared to go to incredible lengths to survive. The Dunkirk film is a great example of the resilience of the human spirit. But resilience alone doesn’t always save us; we humans cannot save ourselves from our own sinful nature. The beautiful thing about the gospel is that it doesn’t depend on our own strength. Just like the boats that saved hundreds of thousands at Dunkirk, Jesus is our lifeboat: all we have to do is jump in. For those of us who are already saved, let us tell others of this free salvation that we can have in Christ.

The story and scope of Dunkirk is awe-inspiring and will lead movie-goers on an intense, action-packed ride as you experience the fear and bravery of those at Dunkirk. But as you enjoy this remarkable cinematic masterpiece, may you also be inspired to bring the salvation we know in Christ to those around us who are in need of saving.

 

Christ In Me & In My Art

Title: Christ In Me & In My Art
Materials: Painting and Illustration
Description: 
These ten original gospel cards are my way of sharing the gospel, for like Peter and John who could not help speaking about what they had seen and heard (Acts 4:20), I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God that brings salvation to all who believe (Romans 1:16). God willing, He will use my art to spread the knowledge of Himself.
Artwork by: Flora Tan (@theflowerandthegardener)

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Cards are available for sale at flowerandgardener.weebly.com

The questions of why we exist and where we are headed to, are age-old questions that I have often found myself contemplating. Over my twenty-two years of existence, by the grace of God alone, have I been able to find answers to these questions because I slowly came to the realisation that He had written a love story to me.

I know what it’s like to have dug my own cisterns; broken cisterns which fail to hold water and have left me thirsty and wanting, rendering my attempts at constructing an identity for myself altogether fruitless. Some cisterns held water longer than others, leading me on a in a false illusion that I had finally found myself until the cracks that were already there gave way to water gushing out at my feet. So I went in search of new soil where I could dig anew, only to find myself wandering aimlessly in a trackless waste.

It was only when Jesus Himself took me by the hand to His fountain of life-giving water that I experienced a freedom from human strife to prove myself. I realised that Jesus had been faithfully tracking my footsteps through the wilderness I had rushed headlong into while also filling my heart with a fullness of love I had never known until He came into my life.

Paul declares in Philippians 3:7-9, “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him…” These words resonate deeply within me and have profoundly shaped my life’s purpose because I now make it my mission to know Christ and grow in my knowledge of Him. The gospel of love and salvation He has given us has made such a mission worth pursuing. It is through the life and death of Jesus — on the basis of what He has done and who He is — that I see all of life as God planned for me.

Yet joy is incomplete in merely knowing. When you are truly delighted in something or someone, you seek to make it known because it is only in sharing it that your joy is made complete. This is where my passion for the gospel blooms from – in a desire to make Jesus known. A single-minded pursuit to know God is invariably bound up with a passion to share the knowledge of Him with others, and in so doing, I have come to know Him all the more. It is in the riches of such knowledge that I have chosen to steep my drawing, illustrating, and painting – for what good is a gift if it is not used to advance the gospel and proclaim Christ?

I set myself to the task of using art as a means to share the gospel with others, after an incident that happened during my church’s easter outreach. I had felt God prompting me to give a hand drawn card depicting the empty tomb of Jesus to an old man sitting by the fish pond. It turned out that he was an art teacher and an instant connection happened as we talked about the card. Our conversation eventually led to one about our lives — our hopes and fears — and ended with a prayer. I realised how art could be such a powerful medium to share the gospel because colours, shapes, and lines are a universal language that anyone can appreciate. Being able to use a talent for the gospel has filled my heart with such joy and purpose.

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On The Other Brand

Title: On The Other Brand
Materials: Graphic Design
Description: We are constantly bombarded by what the media offers–whether through social media or simply by walking through the streets in our neighbourhood. Whether we realize it or not, the endless campaigns of big brand names seep into and become deeply embedded in our lives. Today, we would like to challenge you to look beyond the familiar brands that surround us, and to look into the beatitudes. May it be a constant reminder of His everlasting love and His promises, keeping us grounded in love, faith, and truth.
Artworks in collaboration with: Geraldine Lai & Goh Mei Hsien

Disclaimer: These are made-up examples intended for learning and discussion. They are not meant to represent any specific company or market.

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Eugene Wee: To Reach the Poor, He became Poor

Written By Alvin Chia, Singapore

Would you bear eating your deceased pet dog instead of burying it?

That was one of the hard decisions Singaporean Eugene Wee, 35, had to make while living among the Hmong, an ethnic minority in Phetchabun, a province in northern Thailand, sometime in 2008. His adopted dog had been tragically run over by a truck that day and villagers were looking on to see who would take the carcass home to eat if no one made a claim.

Improving the lives of the Hmong was why Eugene, a former public servant, had set up Radion International, a Christian non-profit agency, in 2007. Radion advocates putting the Christian faith into sincere, practical actions. The organization runs programmes to provide aid to marginalized communities. Their work includes sheltering the poor, helping at-risk children and youth who are vulnerable to vice and drug abuse, as well as women who are victims of domestic violence.

It all started with a feeling of emptiness when things were going well for Eugene in his career. “I often pondered if a nice career, cars and wine was all to life and what would all these mean at the end of the day? What would I say when I stand in front of my Maker? That I have invested my entire life chasing the glitter of the world?” he says.

So he quit his job at the age of 26 to volunteer at a refugee camp among the Hmong for a year. After returning from the stint, he did more research on the Hmong community. He says, “The more I read, the more my heart bled. There were just so many needs, so many social issues, so many communities that have been unreached, yet so little help actually trickles to the ground.”

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Image by Radion International

Despite that realization, he struggled to make the decision to go into full-time mission work for the long term. “I was torn between my career and going up to the mountains,” Eugene says.

Two back-to-back sermons in his church from the book of Haggai finally convinced him. “The whole book of Haggai questions how we can continue to live in the comforts of excess when there is so much need out there,” he explains. He was particularly struck by Haggai 1:8, where God instructs His people—who had been focusing on building their own houses—to build His house. Eugene told God that if he were to hear the same verse the following week, he would take it as confirmation that God wanted him to go.

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Image by Radion International

His heart skipped a beat when the same preacher walked up to the pulpit the following week. She opened the book of Haggai . . . and read from Haggai 1:8. Eugene was reduced to tears. That same week, he packed his bag, cancelled his order for a sports car and flew to Thailand. He shares, “I used to joke with my Christian friends that when I first heard the call, tears rolled down my cheeks—tears of pain.

“There was so much to hold on to in Singapore—fast cars, fine wine and a high-paying career. Putting them all aside was contrary to everything we have been brought up to pursue.”

But a vow he had made to God at the age of 16—that he would follow God no matter what the cost was—kept him from backing out. Eugene, who grew up in a Taoist family, became a Christian in Secondary 3 in 1996. His parents followed suit in 1998 and his older sister, a year later.

Setting up Radion with his friend was difficult from the onset. In the first year of his operations, he was living from hand to mouth and paying for most of his relief projects himself. He forked out more than $50,000 in the first two years. “I guess at that time, we didn’t know how long we would be there. But when we saw that the only way to really help was to stay for the long term, that was when the realities kicked in,” says Eugene, who returns to Singapore four times a year to raise awareness for the work.

On top of the financial challenges, there were also emotional struggles—such as when his beloved pet dog, which he had named Kaew, died. Eugene recounts, “What was difficult was not just its loss, but what ensued.

“If I had buried the dog, the word will spread and villagers will be offended, as it will be a waste of good meat. But letting the neighbors eat my pet was a little too much for me to bear, so eating it ourselves was the most culturally sensitive option. It was a struggle to keep my feelings in and it was definitely one of the hardest things I had to do.”

Despite the challenges, Eugene has seen how God used the ministry to provide for the poor—both physically and spiritually. In 2007, for instance, his team distributed 1,600 blankets to Hmong refugees just before winter. This group includes a large number of people from Laos. They sought asylum in Thailand following their involvement in fighting for the United States in the Vietnam War as well as their battle against the Communists in the Laotian Civil War.

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Image by Radion International

Eugene later found out that the refugee leaders, who were Christians, had been praying that God would provide blankets for the elderly and children. He says: “They wept while sharing how they had hoped that God would listen and that if He was real, He would have mercy and move the Thai soldiers (who were guarding the camp) to provide some. So when they saw thousands of blankets coming in, they knew God had answered and was real beyond a doubt.”

Since 2007, his organization has also had the opportunity to share the Good News in the course of their work. Their first impromptu outreach happened in a crowded little hut where they shared about how God does not forsake His people. The villagers broke down in tears and stayed on to listen instead of rushing out to collect the relief items. On that day, 60 people came to know the Lord.

This goal to reach out to more people with the Gospel—keeps Radion, and Eugene, going. Eugene says: “We share a similar hope (with other Christian missions) that more lives will be pointed to Christ.”