This past Friday night, a group of us watched the film “Amazing Grace” which is the story of William Wilberforce, his faith, and the fight he led for the abolition of slavery in England. Wilberforce was pulled between the call to the religous life and the call to use his gifts and passion in the political process to abolish slavery. Ultimately his choice was grounded in his deep faith. God’s call on his life resulted in years of persistent, painful work in the face of the horrors of slavery. Bill after bill failed in parliament. Yet Wilberforce, mentally and emotionally tortured by the horrors of slavery could do no other than to continue to fight.
Indeed, the the context of the story is the abolition of slavery; but the focus is the life of mature faith.
In discussion following the movie, we explored what sustained Wilberforce and what sustains us when the work is hard and the journey is long and we see defeat again and again. Several sustaining influences were named:
the community that called him out, worked with him, and encouraged him along the way
Pitt, who needed Wilberforce (as Wilberforce needed Pitt)
the woman who became his spouse — who called him to talk about his deepest passion even when he said he could not because the pain was too great
the willingness of Wilberforce to pick up the witness begun by John Newton, to hear his confession, and to make it his own
the deep knowledge that God had found him — which as he stated “was terribly inconvenient.”
This is a film of passion, humor, and maturing faith.
I recommend going to the Amazing Grace website where pastors may order a copy of the film (free) for group use and teaching. The Faith study guide is very helpful whether you are viewing and discussing the film in one sitting, or using clips for discussion.