Title: Sheffey (1977; PG-13)
Director: Katherine Stenholm
Major Themes: Evangelists, Camp Meetings, Robert Sheffey
Synopsis: The fascinating tale of Robert Sheffey’s evangelistic life.
One evening while visiting friends, we were introduced to the fascinating story of Robert Sheffey. A circuit-riding preacher from the 1860s through the early 1900s, Mr. Sheffey was known as a man whose prayers were answered. I found the video both challenging and inspiring—seeing his struggles, especially when he was a young man, were encouraging in that great people don’t always start out great (there actually IS room for improvement!).
As the nephew of a rich upper-class man, Robert Sheffey was expected to mingle with the upper classes, attend all the parties, and uphold the family’s traditional faith. However, he made friends with a few unsavory characters, and together they did their best to have as much “fun” as possible. One of their methods of having “fun” was to disrupt church services, and while they were trying to stop a revival meeting, Robert became convicted and soon turned his life over to the Lord.
When his aunt heard what happened, she kicked him out of home because he had rejected their family’s beliefs. Eventually, he found work as a school teacher. However, he didn’t feel like that was all God wanted him to do, so not long after he moved on, planning to encourage people at revival meetings to turn their lives over to Christ. Many people told him he should become a preacher—but he always replied that that wasn’t what God wanted him to do.
However, one Sunday, a community he was passing through decided he would be their preacher for the weekend. Although fearful, he went ahead and tried to share something with them. However, the stage fright got to be too much for him, and he ran out of the meeting. Somehow, before he could leave, one of the men convinced him to try again, and from that day on he was a preacher. Following the adventurous life of this godly man, and seeing how prayer was such an important part of his life, showed me how much I’m lacking in this area. He set a high ideal through his work, one that many would do well to copy.
Sheffey is a fascinating story. Seeing the dedication of the Christians then was quite a challenge—am I that faithful? Christian history is an absorbing and worthwhile study, as shown through Brother Sheffey’s life. Understanding how our faith has worked over the years to bring men to repentance and new life is a great form of motivation. I felt like the movie was incredibly well done, and it definitely portrayed Robert Sheffey’s life realistically. If you’re looking for something to accompany a Church history course, or want a good family film, or simply are intrigued by Robert Sheffey’s life, this movie is a good choice.
WARNING: When watching with younger children, here are some things you may want to look out for: From 53:50 through 55:30, there is a scene where a young girl is in labor. The father of the child is unknown, and that fact is discussed a little. For this scene, it’s fine to just mute the sound (the pictures contain no sensitive details). From 1:26:50 through 1:33:54 a drunkard’s house is shown—and several bruises on the wife’s face attest to that. During that scene, a man dreams he is in hell, and there are demon faces in the flames. It is fairly graphic, but isn’t hard to either skip or send everyone out of the room for a little bit. Also, close to the end there is a death (not graphic), and a structure fire—depending on the time of day, you may not want your little ones to see the latter.
Ages 12 – 15, 15 and Above, Adults, Family Friendly