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The Amazing Grace

October 4, 2015

TAGJohn Newton is captain of a slave ship moored off the coast of Nigeria. He stands at a crossroads in his life, his morality and religion at odds with the brutality of his chosen profession. Stepping ashore, he starts on a journey of redemption that will end in tragedy but prove the catalyst for greater achievements. A local anthem sung in adversity by the slaves he captures punctuates the film. It will be the inspiration for John Newton’s redemption, and, years later, for his writing of the world’s most enduring hymn, Amazing Grace.

William Wilberforce was elected to British Parliament in the late 18th century at the age of 21. Some years after that, he underwent an experience that brought him back to the Christian faith—to the point where he was prepared to leave politics behind to fully devote his life to God as a clergyman or monk. His friend from college (and future Prime Minister) William Pitt tries to convince Wilberforce to stay in Parliament because he’s such a gifted orator, as seen in several debates on the floor. Pitt asks, “Will you use your beautiful voice to praise the Lord or change the world?”

To quote another character in the film, “We suggest you can do both.”

When Wilberforce rises to sing “Amazing Grace” in a gentleman’s club, he makes a bold proclamation: “This is who I am, and this is what I stand for.”

As Newton declares to Wilberforce, “God sometimes does his work with a gentle drizzle.” Newton is another hero of faith beautifully portrayed in this film. Years after his repentance from involvement in slavery, he is tormented with the feeling of “blood still on my hands.” In one scene he admits he is not strong enough to hear his own confession. Years later as an old man, now physically blind, he states, “I once was blind, but now I see,” as he finally accepts God’s forgiveness for sins of slave trading. I appreciated that the film makers included this admission from Newton, a genuine man of God: “I’m a great sinner and Christ is a great Saviour.”

The story reveals wealth’s power to entice and allure with greed. Viewers vividly encounter the hardened hearts of men allowing them to commit great evil.

Ansa: We are humans not because of our ability to hate, but our capacity to love.

Ansa: I may not live to see the day when our color will stop being a curse to the white man, but some day it will. Someday we will have people strong enough, powerful enough, proud enough to defend our people. Someday we will be free from every kind of enslavement… Someday the blind will see.

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