On Aug. 30, select theatres in the United States showed a limited-release new movie, The Insanity of God. The film documentary is a dramatic autobiographical account of two Southern Baptist missionaries from America and includes stories of persecuted Christians in the modern world. For those who enjoyed the best-selling book, The Insanity of God, this movie probably did not disappoint.
According to the website, “The Insanity of God is the true story of missionaries Nik and Ruth Ripken. After the death of their son, this ordinary couple journeys into the depths of the persecuted church, asking the question-IS JESUS WORTH IT?”
The film explores: “How does faith survive, let alone flourish, in the places of the world that are overcome with the darkness of sin, despair and hopelessness? Join the Ripkens as they tell the story of being taught by believers in persecution ‘how to follow Jesus, how to love Jesus, and how to walk with Him day by day even when it doesn’t make sense.’”
Stories, stories, stories. The biggest appeal of the movie is what was appealing about the book. There are real-life, dramatic encounters that show the cost of being a Christian in some parts of the world today.
We hear about what it was like to be a Christian during the times of the Communist USSR and the brutal torture and persecution of believers. We relive the horrors of life in Somalia during the 1990s. We think about what it’s like to be an underground church in East Asia.
The Ripkins themselves, through interviews, passionately relate the story of what God did in their missions travels in parts of Africa and, later, other parts of the world. Due to security concerns, their faces are not shown on camera (though we see photos of them from years gone by), which added to the gravity of the movie.
There are gripping moments in which you feel the weight of the risks they took and the trials they faced—and share in the triumphs of seeing people being transformed by the Living Son of God, Jesus Christ.
The movie did not feature any A-list actors, and, in some places, it showed. At the same time, a big-name actor could have detracted, not added to the message of the movie.
It is hard for me to know how a non-Christian or skeptic might receive the movie. What I do know is that Evangelical Christians will walk away challenged to go deeper in their faith and pray how God can use them.
After the film concluded, the movie breaks character, and there is a “post-game interview” between David Platt, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board (who was a partner in the movie’s making and debut), and the Ripkins. The interview is done well. For some viewers, though, it could feel anti-climactic, because of how powerful the movie itself was. Platt also extends a challenge and even an alter call at the conclusion of the movie, which many Christians will appreciate. Again, I do not know how a non-Christian would receive this.
Whether you’ve read the book or not, The Insanity of God, is an inspiring real story of the real sacrifice of missionaries that most people will appreciate and find inspiration. We thank God for the Ripkins and pray the Lord would raise up 10,000 more just like them.
3.5 stars (out of 4)