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Movie Review

The Jonah Redemption

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Reviewed by: Sheri McMurray
CONTRIBUTOR

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens, Adults
Genre:
Christian Drama
Length:
1 hr. 10 min.
Year of Release:
2004
USA Release:
______
Copyright, EvtiZoxologia Productions
Copyright, EvtiZoxologia Productions
Copyright, EvtiZoxologia Productions
Copyright, EvtiZoxologia Productions
Relevant Issues
Copyright, EvtiZoxologia Productions

Learn about Jonah the Prophet

The Book of Jonah

Nineveh

Why is the world the way it is (filled with oppression, suffering, death and cruelty)? If God is all-knowing, all-powerful and loving, would He really create a world like this? Answer

If God knows I am hurting, why doesn’t He help me? Answer

Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer

The Origin of bad—How did bad things come about? Answer

Featuring: Antoine Bishara, George Andraws, Christine Sorial, Tony Habib, George Shehata, Tamer Akladios, Nagat Bisada, George Habib, Martin Nobar, Ronnie Nobar, Paul Sabet, Amir Shehata, Mary Gerges, Sergey Smirnov
Director: Amir Shehata
Producer: EvtiZoxologia Productions
Distributor: EvtiZoxologia Productions—www.EvtiZoxologia.com

“What do we do when our problems get the best of us? Do we think that we’re alone and act accordingly? I did. I let the Truth slip away from me. I didn’t understand that in order to save myself I must regain that which I lost.”

And with this sobering statement we begin a hard close look at Jonah Mikhael (Antoine Bishara) who has to deal with a barrage of spiritual and moral questions through his journey discerning God’s will in his life and finally the cost of his own redemption.

Jonah is a hard working, confident young man who will stop at nothing working his way to the top at Cryptosec Technologies. Jonah, in fact, has just finished working nearly 24/7 the past six months to land the “big deal” for the company which assures him of that much sought after promotion. He has just slapped down a cool $80,000 on a new house, has a beautiful fiancé Dian (Christine Sorial) who loves him deeply, lots of influential friends at the firm and now with this promotion in the bag life is sweet.

There is a wrench in the works though. Mild mannered Wilfred, the creator of the Indus Project they have just sold for millions to a South African waste management company, tries desperately to tell the CEO that this purification project hasn’t had all the bugs worked out. Wilfred is adamant that if they go ahead with this project without finishing the final testing it will pollute the water and kill thousands of innocent people relying on it’s safety.

The CEO tells Wilfred in no uncertain terms the millions in revenue and position Cryptosec will earn from this deal is the only thing that matters and if he causes any more disturbances Wilfred will be out of a job—period.

The weight of Jonah’s moral responsibilities begin to press that afternoon when he happens to be in the office to collect some paperwork and overhears this grim conversation between Wilfred and the iron-willed CEO. Jonah at that point knows the right thing to do would be to stop all production on the Indus project and inform the South African company of it’s potential dangers, but because of his need for indulgence, fear of rejection and the human need for self glorification, Jonah does nothing.

Jonah has grown up in the Church. His family, fiancé and neighborhood friends all are God fearing, honest people. Jonah himself, is a Sunday school teacher who doesn’t take his own lessons to heart. Jonah asks for advice several times from those he loves and admires and he gets basically the same answer. Go to God and He will guide you. Seek the Lord and He will take care of the problem. Ask God’s guidance and He will always be there to take care of you no matter what the outcome. TRUST GOD.

Yet, even though deep in his soul he knows their council is true, Jonah fights against what he should do and in the process spirals deep into doubt, fear and confusion. Because he has turned his back on the truth Jonah has lost his way.

Into this mix comes a new friendship with Jarad Abaddon (George Andraws), a guy about Jonah’s age who seemingly can identify with his plight, but because Jarad has given up on his own Christianity encourages Jonah to do the same. He effectively asks the questions many non-believers and sceptics have asked down through the ages. Where is God when war and suffering attack? Why doesn’t God answer our prayers when we are hurting? If God is love then where is God when we need Him most?

Jarad tells Jonah he is his one true friend and, unlike God, will be there for him in an instant whenever Jonah needs help. Jarad also encourages the doubtful Jonah to give up on his girlfriend and church buddies because they are pious know-it-alls. The decision Jarad has made to separate himself from God, has left a void in his heart, which he tries to fill by convincing Jonah that life with God is not worth it. This is the ploy most of us subconsciously use so that we feel less guilty about our break with our Father in Heaven. In a word “misery loves company.”

A dream has been plaguing Jonah relentlessly the whole time his heart and soul has been wrestling with God. He is standing on the slippery deck of a ship in the pouring rain. As the ship is tossed and turned a dark figure pushes Jonah to the rain drenched boards. Jonah grasps fitfully at a goblet just inches from his hand, but the slicker clad figure has a rope around Jonah and pulls him back from that which he so desperately wants to seize. Over and over he reaches as if his life depended on it and over and over the sinister figure pulls him back. Jonah always awakes before he knows if he succeeds in obtaining the goblet.

Needless to say, between this dream, taking the corrupt council of Jarad, and the distance Jonah has been putting between himself and God, he has put his beliefs and his loyalties to the test. Jonah rapidly starts to loose all he holds dear. His Christian footing begins to slip.

On the eve of the of the opening of the Indus Project, we find Jonah sticking with his obligation to teach Sunday school. Jonah meets with several youngsters for their Saturday night class. Jonah has been lead to teach upon the plight of his namesake. He turns to a child and asks him to go get two glasses. One filled with water. A small miracle is about to take place in Jonah’s heart. Jonah relates,

“We all know the story of Jonah the prophet. Today we’ll ask one question. Why did he flee from the face of the Lord?”

A child correctly replies, “Because he didn’t want to preach to the Ninevites.” Jonah states she is partly right as the boy returns with an empty glass and a goblet filled with water. The goblet is exactly the same one that Jonah sees in his dreams. Jonah begins to teach himself at this point by saying as he holds up the goblet, “You see we all have spiritual lives. And the only way we’ll grow in our spiritual lives is if we’re close to the Lord Jesus.” He holds up the two containers. “Our hearts will then be filled with the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Like this goblet is filled with water, but…” Jonah pours the water from the goblet to the other glass. “…the farther we are from God, the less our…” Jonah pauses as he remembers his dream. “Hearts… Will… Be filled…”

Jonah begins to remember the ship in the middle of the storm of his dreams, how he stumbled under the weight of the rain and the waves. Of the goblet rolling away as the water in it spills out as he tried so desperately to reach for it.

After a second, putting down the glass and the goblet on the desk, Jonah realizes what he must do and whispers “I’ve got to go.” He walks out to the surprise of his young students. Jonah spends time in God’s word all the way to the next morning. He is putting on the armor for the fight, although he doesn’t consciously think of it that way. God is lovingly guiding him and preparing his heart to do battle with “the Ninevites.”

Sunday morning arrives and the heads of Cryptosec Technologies gather, where Jonah is to be their honored guest, to witness the start-up of the waste disposal control system via teleconference at the power plant in South Africa. Jonah declares his discovery that there is a potential bug in the Indus system, which could cause a life threatening toxic leak. He pleads with Wilfred to back him up, but gets no support and is pulled from the meeting by the fuming CEO who fires him on the spot.

It didn’t go the way he planned, and Jonah is devastated that God has taken away his job, his fiancé, many of his so-called business friends and now he stands to lose everything including his new house. He cries out to God just as Jarad approaches and commences to convince him it is time to stop relying on this unseen God and start thinking about what’s in the here and now, about himself! Jarad implores Jonah to follow him.

Jonah has reached the defining moment in his Christian walk. Will he cling to God and trust Him at whatever cost or will he give into his own worldly needs and take the chance of losing eternity? What Jonah isn’t aware of is that his family, his fiancé and friends have been in church in prayer for him this whole time. Jesus has been interceding. Hearts have been opened. God is answering in justice and love. God has imparted His strength to Jonah.

By the look in Jonah’s eyes we know what path he has chosen. He walks away from Jarad as he wails insult upon insult upon Jonah. The peace that passes understanding has blessed Jonah by an act of simple faith and trust in God and God alone.

At home Jonah returns to his apartment he is greeted with his computer screen showing the latest news headline:

“Power Plant shut down saves South African Coptic Orthodox Ministry from potentially serious environmental and health hazards”

As Jonah falls asleep this evening in God’s loving promises he remembers Jarad’s spiteful words.

“Someone once told me that time is running out, and it is.”

But tonight in his dream Jonah stands at the edge of that ship that now is overlooking a calm sea. Jonah has finally faced “the Ninevites.” Jonah has been redeemed.

“I finally understand that. Our lives are nothing but a vapor that will blow over before we know it. We cannot spend it blinded to God’s presence in our lives. God is always seeking us. He never stops. He longs for us to come back to him, but at the end, it’s our decision, to come back or to drift away. The question is, what will it be?”

Quoting from THE JONAH REDEMPTION Web site:

We wanted to create a story that parallels the story of Jonah the prophet but run in current day, and revolves around the relationship between God and man. The main theme we had in mind was true happiness and satisfaction can only be found when man lives in harmony with God. There are four specific aspects of the story of Jonah the prophet that we wanted to touch on.

  1. How Jonah’s Ego separated him from God.
  2. How God never gave up on him
  3. How God used Jonah in his disobedience to make the sailors and the Ninavites believe in God.
  4. How we must rely on God and not our understanding.

Keeping these four points in mind we created the following parallels:

  1. Jonah Mikhael—Jonah the prophet
  2. Cryptosec Technologies and Jarad Abaddon—the stormy sea
  3. Jonah’s friends—the big fish which takes Jonah to Nineveh.
  4. Wilfred—the Ninevites and the sailors

There are so many “Jonah moments” in all our lives. We cannot help but identify with Jonah’s problems and questions within the framework of this story. THE JONAH REDEMPTION deals with and explores many of these eternal topics:

  1. God’s Will for us
  2. Eternal security
  3. Forgiveness
  4. Relationships
  5. The work place and how our Christianity affects others
  6. Our desires/Contentment
  7. Finances
  8. Temptation
  9. Overcoming worldly difficulties
  10. The power of prayer

It is very easy to look at spiritual truths and doctrines and see them from the outside without fully entering into them. Just like Jonah the Prophet our human nature seems to want to insulate rather than participate and do something about unjust acts or circumstances. Paul was an active participant in the truths that he taught. He fully believed in the power of intercessory prayer (Ephesians 6:19, Colossians 4:3, 1 Thessalonians 5:25). When it comes to spiritual warfare, half-heartedness is never good enough.

Jonah found that the deficiency was not on God’s part to give, but on his part to receive. He found that he was neglecting his spiritual armor and by refusing Jarad’s insistence that God wasn’t there for him, he took on the full advantage that the Lord had provided for him to fight for what was ethically and morally right (Ephesians 6:11). He learned to face his Nineveh.

The question often comes up, “How do I discern the counsel of others in knowing God’s will?” Jonah the Prophet knew his call was from God and chose to ignore and run from it. Our movie Jonah wasn’t even sure which person to trust in and without the leading of the Scriptures (which he didn’t go to until almost too late); he floundered in uncertainty. He may have read these comforting words that evening after his Sunday school lesson: “A man’s counsel is sweet to his friend.” (Proverbs 27:9) and “In abundance of counselors there is victory.” (Proverbs 24:6). Jonah may also have been led to these words from Micah 2:1 in understanding his so called “friend” Jarad, “Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! When the morning is light, they practise it, because it is in the power of their hand.”

We must point out to our kids that Jonah wasn’t sure who to listen to because of his own fears of unacceptance of man. George Sweeting writes in How to Discover the Will of God:

“Often guidance in the will of God will come to us in the normal circumstances of life, through open and closed doors. But be careful not to give this area more consideration than it deserves. Satan can also open and shut doors of opportunity. Gather all the facts, and prayerfully seek the mind of God.”

If there is anything that Jonah teaches us, it is this: You not only can’t hide from God, you really cannot run from God. In his sermon on Jonah (3-25-01) Dr. James Merritt tells the story of a little boy who kept riding his bicycle around the block, and a police officer was sitting by the side of the road and he watched this little boy ride around the block about ten times. Finally, he got out of his squad car and stopped him and said, “Son, you keep riding around this same block over and over, what are you doing?”

The little boy said, “I’m running away from home.”

The officer said, “Running away from home? How can you be running away and keep going around the same block?”

The little boy said, “Because my Mommy told me I couldn’t cross the street!”

In a real sense, we are all like that little boy. You may think you can run from God, but you really can’t. When God speaks and tells you to do something, whether you think it’s a big thing or a little thing, you had better do it. Because if you don’t, your life will become just one catastrophe looking for a place to happen. As your family studies the book of Jonah they will learn about valuable principles that show us the grief that comes from rebelling against God, and the glory that comes from obeying Him. THE JONAH REDEMPTION relates loud and clear that Disobedience Brings Discipline.

I also had the pleasure of listening to the beautifully done soundtrack to THE JONAH REDEMPTION composed by Frank Sehr. The vocals by Sara Bishara are haunting and lyrical. The score intertwines choral arrangements with splashes of the modern mixed with melodies in which any listener can revel. The score moves the story along and helps the audience feel the character’s shifting moods and underscores the spiritual aspects involved within. Although there are no big name stars and the production is not brimming with Hollywood polish (it was put together on a shoestring, lots of prayer and the willing donations of many people and places throughout Vancouver), this film hits home and opens up families to discussion on coming to terms with the hard choices life throws at us. It would be a wise choice for youth groups and church teaching sessions across all denominations.

THE JONAH REDEMPTION is a St. George Coptic Orhtodox Church film. A EvtiZoxologia Production from Vancouver, Canada and can be ordered through their Web site—www.EvtiZoxologia.com. I recommend the soundtrack which is haunting and beautifully done.

Violence: None / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: None

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—I must say that this movie was a pleasant surprise and one that should not be missed. After reading the through review on Christiananswers.net, I decided to purchase a copy of the movie to watch with my family.

My son is currently about to enter the workforce and based on the initial review I read, I thought it would be a good idea for us to watch this movie as a family and contemplate God’s role in our lives together as he entered the world of corporate America. I must say that the movie was a great catalyst for our discussion and showed that you don’t need a multi-million dollar Hollywood budget to make a great movie. Although it was by no means a Hollywood quality movie, its overall message makes this movie a must see for any family (or church youth group) struggling with how to send across the message of “how do we cope in a touch world.”

I applaud the director and actors in this movie. Well done! I look forward to your team’s next production.
My Ratings: [Excellent!/3]
—Joe Penna, age 37
Neutral—A moderately interesting, non-offensive film. The story attempts to show how God must be trusted in times of duress, and how prayer must be used to resolve our problems. The conflicts that Jonah experienced, however, seemed blown out of proportion, and the overall story was quite linear without too many twists in the plot. But overall, an average film.
My Ratings: [Excellent!/3]
—Desmond Liu, age 37
Positive—Jonah’s Redemption was very good for a low cost production. The story had hints of C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters) and Frank Peretti (This Present Darkness). It gave a real look into the facts of living in the world and how sometimes the world wants you to conform to it, and in the end Jonah is able to escape the world’s grasp and decide for God.

It also has a very good emphasis on the importance and the answering of prayer. Prayer is something that the world does not understand and many times Christians lose the importance of it because of our connection with the world. This movie puts it back into play and shows that it does make a difference.

I was also very impressed by the Coptic church that put the movie together. I never heard much about them but the Lord definitely was working through them with this movie. Praise the Lord!
My Ratings: [Excellent!/4]
—Jeff McGlawn, age 29