Videos weren’t videos back in the day; they were reel-to-reel films. We welcomed the sight of the cumbersome projector in the classroom for it meant a break from the normal routines of our studies. The films used for Social Studies and Geography classes were my favorites. Real life movies that gave us glimpses into other parts of the world, a world so far away and different from the small country town that held our school. Films that gave greater meaning to the words and pictures on the pages of our books. Films that opened our minds to imagine what it would be like to travel and experience a different kind of life.
There was, however, a down side to this exposure. At least there was for me. Along with the unveiling of different cultures and lifestyles, the films often included the difficulties of those living in harsh climates and barren lands and places with limited or no medical assistance. We saw images of those who had succumbed to sicknesses and diseases for which there were no cures. Much to my horror, I learned of Elephantitis. Elephantitis is actually a symptom of various diseases which causes body parts to swell to massive proportions, but having heard the word and seen the images, it became to me a most feared disease. And while I hated the spindly appendages on my body called legs, embarrassed that my ankles were so thin they didn’t stretch out the wrinkles in the cheap, crumpled pantyhose occasionally purchased for me, I could think of nothing worse that having elephantitis. I silently added this to my rapidly growing list of fears.
Moving from elementary to junior high (now referred to as middle school) the use of educational films continued with the addition of those designed to prevent us from doing drugs. We saw films filled with needles and pills, strobe lights, swirling colors, and strange music that was supposed to represent the hallucinogenic effects of dangerous drugs. I cannot tell you whether or not this display was accurate as the films had the desired effect on me – they made me terribly afraid of drugs and the prospects of going to jail (new additions to the aforementioned list).
The use of this type of visual teaching aid was not limited to the public school system; from time to time they were tools of the church:
A lone Christian behind bars, his head in his hands as he sits and awaits his fate. He’s been captured by those who oppose his beliefs and it is time to choose. Stand or surrender. Choose to die rather than live. That is what he will be asked to do in a matter of days or hours. Is his faith strong enough? Will he renounce Christ in order to live? What would you do?
I remember nothing else from that particular film other than this brief scene. Permanently embedded in my mental photo album, this image was cause for great concern over many years. What would I do? Not mature enough to understand what God would require of me as a child, I feared the end of days would find me a coward. The last word I would have used to describe myself at that time was brave. I was the farthest thing from courageous that you could find. This tortured my soul as I so wanted to please God, but was sure that I would buckle under the pressure of being thrown in jail and my life threatened. This fear became a biggie on my list.
Looking back, I realize that this may not have been the wisest choice the Sunday School teachers could have made. I personally would not recommend this as a teaching method for our children. However, now that I am older and wiser, secure in my faith and confident in His ability to help me, it’s not a bad question: What would I do?
This morning there are over 200 Christians that have recently been captured by those who oppose their beliefs, and that’s just the latest report from one country. There are many, many more scattered across this globe. Brothers and sisters that awaken today not knowing if they will ever see their families again, not knowing if they will be one of those chosen for the next horrific video that will be shown around the world. As I read the report from the comfort and safety of my home, I wondered “What would I do?”
What would you do? It’s not a bad question and it’s ok to answer “I don’t know.” But let’s allow the question to provoke us not to fear, but to pray for those who are afraid. To be fervent and diligent to remember them and their families that they will be strong and that their faith not fail. To pray that they will experience His presence in a profound and powerful way today. And to pray for those of us who live in comfort and safety that we will keep a right perspective on what is truly important.
So maybe the better question for us today is “What will we do?”
…unite with me in earnest wrestling in prayer to God… Romans 15:30
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:10
“What will I do?” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com