By Joel Gordon
“He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’ (Matthew 22:37-39, NRSV).
Lights. Camera. Action. Gripping characters and extraordinary circumstances in films and TV shows often move us. Before the camera rolls, you never quite know what to expect as a director, actor or even as a viewer in your living room.
Over the last two decades, I’ve been moved to tears while working on both sides of the camera. There’s one experience in particular that stands out vividly in my mind.
It didn’t take place on a Hollywood set or in a TV studio where I’ve spent countless hours. It was recorded while filming a church youth group for Love is Moving, a national television show that features Christian youth who join the Love Movement. The Love Movement exists to empower Christians to live out their faith through a revived Biblical understanding of love and to learn about passionately living out God’s love.
After journeying through the Love Movement study, learning about the greatest commandment and then being visited by musician and former child soldier, Emmanuel Jal, the youth group from a local church was challenged to love God and to love their neighbours in their community. We were there to document their experience. In this episode, Emmanuel Jal also shares a riveting account of how he overcame starvation and the horrors of being a child soldier in Sudan. In response, and out of a desire to serve children in need, the students from Sanctuary Church prepared and served food at a local Christian social services ministry and then reflected about their experiences.
I couldn’t hold back the tears of joy from behind the camera when I heard an angst-ridden Canadian teenager express his deep longing to love like Jesus. In that moment of sharing, I knew that love’s labour was not lost. Through an experiential learning adventure to revive a Biblical concept of love, a young man was stirred to passionately love God by helping the vulnerable. This is what he said: “When you go there and help them, actually they help you. Why am I playing video games? I’m bored. I want to do something. I want to create relationships with people who need love!”
Young people can challenge us in the ‘knowing is doing’ department. As we face the gruelling global currents of child exploitation and child trafficking, we are moved to act. And clearly, when we love the vulnerable, God’s love shines through us.