I Am David
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“I Am David” is a movie written and directed by Paul Feig which is based on a book with the same title by Anne Holms. While the story is fictional it is based on the Soviet Union’s gulags that existed in the communist Soviet Union from 1918 to 1960. GULAG is a Russian acronym for the government agency in charge of the network of these forced-labour camps. Life was particularly hard for those imprisoned for disagreeing with the policies of Joseph Stalin and the communist state during the 40’s and 50’s. Families were torn apart in many of the countries of Eastern Europe like Bulgaria where even children like David were imprisoned for the acts of their parents. By some estimates there were over 900 forced labor camps in Bulgaria alone. David’s story begins at the age of twelve. But you can tell he has been imprisoned for most of his life. He only as he has few memories of his family before their separation. Life under these conditions is hard for us to imagine. But, living in a world free from the oppression of communism is just as difficult for David to imagine. He is almost executed for taking a bar of soap he probably found laying around. But, an older man comes to his rescue and takes the blame for David’s misjudgment. He is immediately shot dead for his act of kindness. Death seems to be the only way of escape for David. But, thanks to a prison guard, David is given an opportunity to escape. The prison guard is also a prisoner of communist oppression, though he appears to be in a position of power. He gives David a compass, a pocket knife, the bar of soap which David had taken, a half loaf of bread, a sealed letter and instructions on how to make his escape. “You must get this envelope to Denmark. First, head south to Salonika and hide on a ship that’s going to Italy. Don’t trust anyone nor let them see the contents of this envelope. When you arrive in Italy, travel north as far as you can until you reach Denmark.” The boy must make his way to the fenced wall by a certain time. The electricity to the fence will be turned off for just 30 seconds. During which time, the boy must scale the wall and be free from the fence before the electric fence is reactivated. He barely escapes but is soon stowed away on a ship bound for Italy. But, he can’t be discovered disembarking from the ship at the dock. So, he is let down by a rope into the water by a ship hand he had befriended. Once in the water he must swim to shore. But, little does David know that he is now free from the power of the Soviet Union. They no longer have any power over him. But, he must learn to smile and love and trust people who want to help him. But he is still imprisoned by his dark past. But, David does learn how to live in liberty as he continues his journey and arrives at his destination in Denmark.
In many ways, David’s story of deliverance is a perfect illustration of a sinner’s conversion to Christianity and the journey of faith every Christian must make. We begin our journey when we first believe the gospel message of hope and follow the instructions given. Some will tell you to only believe. It’s not necessary to follow the plan of salvation given by the Apostles. You don’t have to leave your old life and repent. Don’t worry about the walls the devil has put in place to keep you in bondage. You don’t need to get on “the good ole gospel ship” and go to church. You don’t need to come through the water of baptism to be free. You don’t need to be filled with the Holy Ghost and have the mind of Christ. Just stay in your bondage and believe you are a new person. And, just as there are those who will tell you to only believe, there are others that will tell you to do a lot of other things that may or may not be necessary. For example, the guard told David not to open the sealed envelope and trust no one. If you watch the movie, opening the sealed envelope helped David discover his true identity and trust a woman who helped him complete his destination. Just as Christ learned obedience to the cross by the things which he suffered, the Christian must learn how to listen to God in order to complete our destiny. After all, it is the trials of our journey that prepares us for the life of liberty in Christ and helps us reach home. We must learn to live, love, trust and obey. It also helps if we learn to smile.
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