Title: When Things Seem Impossible (1994; unrated)
Producer: New Tribes Mission
Major Themes: Missionaries, South America, True Stories
Synopsis: The incredible true story of four missionaries who were captured by guerrillas in South America, and how God worked in their lives to show His great power.
Last weekend, as we were trying to decide which movie to share with the church family on Sunday, someone suggested When Things Seem Impossible. We’ve watched the movie multiple times before, but it’s a story that never grows old. Seeing God work in the miraculous way He did here is always greatly encouraging, so I was excited to share it again with our church family.
The work among the Puinave people in South America is going well. After seven years of language study, Tim and Bunny Cain are experiencing God’s blessing in their work. Paul Dye and Steve Estelle, two missionary pilots, are their only connection to the outside world. One day, guerrilla fighters march into the village and seize the two missionaries. That afternoon, using the excuse that Tim is sick (he actually was, but apparently recovered soon afterward), they force the two to call for the mission airplane.
Paul Dye and Steve Estelle take off immediately, little dreaming of the danger they are heading into. Because of an impending storm, they don’t circle and look for the “okay” flag before landing—and soon are on the ground. Guerrillas capture the men, and force Paul to fly two of them to one of their camps, where they have prepared an area to hide the airplane. Paul, reeling from the change of events, begins to question God. Why did he have to be caught? Was it God’s will that the work should be so abruptly stopped? And what of Tim and Bunny Cain, and Steve Estelle? What will the guerrillas do to them?
When Things Seem Impossible is mostly narrated by Paul Dye, at a church service, but the story itself is acted out by him and the other people who were involved in the real happening. Through a combination of the movie of the events that took place, and Paul’s testimony, we get a front-row seat view into what he was thinking and feeling as the events transpired.
Personally, I’ve been incredibly challenged by the story. Seeing Paul’s all-too-real struggles as he wonders why God would have allowed this, turned to faith as he realizes God has him there for a reason, really made me think about how I would have responded. Would I still praise God—and then step out in faith, as Paul did? Or would I be too scared to do what I felt the Lord was telling me I should do, and miss out on the amazing opportunity He is giving me? Would I be able to stand firm in my faith, despite all odds against me? I hope so, but until the test comes I wouldn’t be sure.
This is an incredible true story (it happened in October 1985), one you won’t want to miss out on. God is definitely glorified through the lives of these four people, and it is a great faith-builder as well. Perfect for enjoying together as a family (although for very young children, please see the note in the warning), especially if you enjoy true missionary stories that make you sit back and say “wow, God!”
WARNING: Although fine for all ages, in one of the beginning scenes the guerrillas arrive and are acting rough (banging on the door with their guns, etc). There is nothing violent in the story—there are no shots fired, and there is only the threat of what they will do if the missionaries don’t comply. My three-year-old brother watched it, and since then he’s asked why the guerrillas were mean, but he doesn’t seem too worried about it. You may want to preview from 3:50 through 8:10—that is where most of the violence takes place (after that section, there are just a few times when the missionaries are threatened).
Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12, 12 – 15, 15 and Above, Adults, Family Friendly
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