A film by Andrew Garcia
“Lord, Lord I want to make a difference. But how? How can I make a difference? And do they need change? Do they want change? If they do, where do I start? What right do I have to burst in on their culture and expect them to change? What are they thinking? Why do they do what they do? I guess I need to make some changes too. Lord, help me to understand so that I may be understood and make your message clear.”
Andrew Garcia begins his documentary with the missionary’s prayer and the missionary’s dilemma. This is more than a film about particular missionaries, it is about missions. It opens up and explores the desires and dilemmas of those who seek to live outside of their culture and share the gospel of Jesus.
Brad and Deborah Wells and their seven children live and minister in Mt. Hagen, Papua New Guinea, where they have founded a Christian radio station, serve in a local church, and minister to people in the surrounding areas. Garcia beautifully unveils the life and ministry of the Wells family as we follow them in their daily lives and as they tell each other’s stories.
But Garcia pushes his documentary beyond the personal story of the extended Wells family. He gives us insight into the life of a missionary – the joys, the fears and the failures, and most significantly the ever-present dilemmas of cross-cultural ministry. Should missionaries live like locals or in a western-style house? How much should they ‘cross-culture’ and how much should they consider the kids? How does a Christian handle being extorted for money? How do you balance the cost of transport with the impact of the ministry that it allows? How much weight should one place on the power of local spirituality?
“When I was growing up we were a large family and we didn’t have a lot of things, and I was comfortable with that. Here we are considered rich. And because of that, that creates a tension between the people I am trying to reach and myself. And I wish I could do away with that.”
Do the Wells’ get these things right? To make these judgements would be to miss the point of the film. What Garcia gives us is an opportunity to enter the missionary’s world: to wear their hats, to try them on for size, and to walk around in them. The question the film leaves us with is: ‘how would I handle cross-cultural mission – could I wear “two hats”?’
Why two hats?
“You have to have two hats. If you want to live here and understand you have to have two hats. You have your white man’s hat and you have your Papua New Guinean hat. Because if you wear your Papua New Guinean hat you can understand what they’re doing. Everyone has a story and if you can understand that, you can understand a lot of things.”
I would recommend this film to anyone with a passion for Christ’s Kingdom, especially those who particularly glory in its growth through foreign missions. As well as personal collections, this film would be a valuable addition to church libraries and Bible colleges.
Watch the trailer:
You can get the movie and more information here.