Third Extract from Machine Gun Thoughts

Part 4: Eyes Opened

Clip: 39 minutes, 31 seconds to 52 minutes, 11 seconds

Warning this clip includes scenes of violence in a terrorised village.

  1. Whilst staying in Sudan with Deng Sam sees the ‘night commuters’ who regularly leave their villages at night looking for safer places. This is Sam’s first sight of the terror inflicted by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Were you aware of the LRA before seeing this film? Sam’s instinct is to help all the ‘night commuters’, but there are too many for that. Making a difference for a few always seems hard when there are so many others needing help. Have you encountered this problem? What’s your take on this?
  2. When Sam comes home his family and friends have no idea what he has been through. His daughter Paige imagines Africa to be a place of wild animals and safaris. Now that he is back home Paige wants him to do the usual things. Have you ever experienced this kind of thing – being misunderstood by those close to you? Those who can’t in any way really understand what you have been through.
  3. Sam stays up all night dreaming and making plans. He wants to make a difference and as a construction engineer his instinct is to build. He wants to build a church for prostitutes and drug addicts near where they live – for the kind of people he knows. He also plans to make an orphanage in Sudan. He tells Lynn that he heard God speak to him. Have you experienced God guiding you – through others, through events, as an audible voice, or through the Bible? Or by some other way? Sam tells Lynn that he had a vision and it may sound crazy to her. We may often think that God speaking to us will sound weird to others and therefore don’t say anything. Have a look at Joel chapter 2 verses 28 and 29.
  4. Sam builds the church. At the opening service of the new Shekinah Fellowship the preacher fails to turn up so Sam decides to speak himself. He tells part of his story and encourages those listening to open up the door to the God who is watching out for them. Sam has clearly changed a lot since his drug taking, hard drinking days. Like the disciple Peter he has unexpectedly found himself standing up in public and speaking about God. Can you relate to this at all? Have you found yourself doing things for God that you never thought you’d do? The bumbling fisherman Simon Peter speaks out confidently and clearly in Acts chapter 4 verses 8 to 13.
  5. Our stories may not be anything like as dramatic as Sam’s, but they are powerful because they have happened to us, and God has been working through them. It’s easy to overlook our own stories if they are not dramatic, but God is often at work in the ordinary things. Film director Tom Shadyac, who directed the films Bruce Almighty and Evan Almighty once said that coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous. Have you experienced coincidences which may well have been God at work? In Genesis chapter 28 verses 10 to 17 Jacob is running away when he discovers God is with him, working in his situation, but he didn’t realise it. Take a few moments to reflect, can you recall moments when God may have been helping you in the ordinary things? You may need to think more about this after the session has finished.
  6. Did the clip from the film throw up any other thoughts you’d like to mention?

7. Prayer:

Lord, thank you for the dreams and visions you give to us. We offer you those we have had in the past that have not come to fruition. We offer you our disappointment, and our hopes for the future. If there are things you would like us to do in the future, please help us to discover these. And help us to spot when it’s you at work in the coincidences of life.

    In the name of Jesus, Amen.

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