A Short Review of 'Silence' (2017) by Jones Liwewe

Martin Scorsese’s film ‘Silence’ is based on a novel about Christian Jesuit missionaries in Unzen, Japan  around 17th-century. In my opinion it is one of the most incredible Christian persecution movies that displays Christ’s victory over death.

Japan is one of the toughest places to evangelise in, since the first missionary St. Francis Xavier in 1549. Today the Christian population in Japan makes up less than 1% of the total population. It is not surprising therefore that Christian persecution was heavily experienced by both the missionaries and local Christians since the 16th-century. It is clear in the movie that persecution was used to intimidate Christian and to stop Christianity's growth in Japan.

One of the most beautiful and remarkable things displayed in the movie (my highlight) is the active and unwavering faith of the local Christians who were being tortured and persecuted for their faith in Christ. They held on God’s promise of Paradise, a place where there is no sorrow, hardship, oppression, death, sin, labour, sickness and all kinds of evil, which compared to their context, was the only place they could long for. It is God’s promise of Paradise more than anything that made them look death in the eye with the sense of victory, knowing that death no longer had power on them.

They were willing to die for Christ because they were going to a better place.

Unfortunately when persecution was so fierce, the two missionaries, Father Ferreira and his student Rodrigues eventually compromised The Gospel and accepted to work with Japanese authorities, helping them to fight against the spread of Christianity in Japan. Their actions although disappointing, clearly shows what a person can do under the pressure of persecution.

I therefore, knowing that I have never gone through such an experience did not judge them, but only felt sorry with how their life ended. I am not sure if their faith in Christ was still active during their years of silence but I concluded that many of the local Christians who knew and look up to them were very discouraged and disappointed.

I recommend Christian's should watch this film, and be challenged in your faith.

The movie has really left a mark on me.

Jones Liwewe

30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World


Considering our focus at the moment in a lot of our churches teachings is prayer it is very important that we consider praying for our Muslim neighbours during their holy month.

30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World is an initiative that focuses on praying about specific people, places and topics pertaining to Muslims and the Islamic World during their holy month of Ramadan.

The initiative includes a simplified daily prayer calendar, which you can download from this post as a guide to praying for a specific topic during each day of their month of Ramadan.

If you so desire you may also support the initiative monetarily by purchase a digital copy of the complete prayer guide for $2.50 or $3.00 for a physical copy on their website.

OMF Ministries also has a variety of stories and resources  to help you understand the Muslim world of East Asia better and join them in prayers specifically aimed at the Muslim communities that they work with.

The 7 Rules of Biblical Interpretation by Wayne McDill

The original article can be found and read here, but we have placed the 7 rules here for easy reference:

Before starting with any Bible study or attempting to interpret a passage, PRAY.

1. Identify the kind of literature your text is for insight into its meaning.

Bible scholars call this the genre of the text. That means the general form the text takes—narrative, prophecy, poetry, history, gospel, epistle. The various kinds of literature present their message in differing styles and with different structure. Narrative texts do not operate the same way epistles do in getting their message across to the reader.

The variety in literary forms can become a complicated study. Bible scholars go beyond the basic forms I mentioned here to subforms with subtle differences the ordinary reader might not notice. Often they disagree with one another about these subtleties. In spite of these technical distinctions, the preacher can still recognize the text’s form and how it affects the meaning.

2. Consider the context of the passage for a better understanding of its meaning.

This is often considered the first and most important principle for accurate interpretation. Bible scholars use the term context to discuss various aspects of the original writing of the text—historical, social, political, religious, literary. It is this literary concern I have in mind as the context of the passage.

The writer follows a logical line of thought in what he writes. What he said in the previous verses or chapters and what he said in the ones that follow will help make the text in question clear. Taking the text out of that context risks misinterpreting it. Often clues in the surrounding verses will open aspects of the meaning in your text you would have otherwise missed.

3. Read the text for its plain and obvious meaning.

A common and persistent myth about the Bible is that its real meaning is hidden behind the surface message. Even though the Bible uses symbolic or figurative language, most of it is clear to the reader. Even when you do not know about the people, places, and events in question, you can grasp the point of the text.

The use of figurative language in Scripture only enhances the plain meaning of the text. “Why do you complain about the splinter in your brother’s eye when you have a plank in your own eye?” Jesus said (Matt. 7:3 NIV). Even though this is figurative language, we have no trouble understanding what he meant. His use of the metaphors makes it even clearer.

4. Try to discern the writer’s intentions when he wrote the text.

This principle of intentionality is critical for the expository preacher. You study the text not to find a sermon in it but to discover the writer’s intended message. Unless you can learn the intended meaning of the text writer, you will not be able to preach the message of the text in your sermon. Remember, “The text cannot mean what it never meant.”4 Discovering the writer’s original meaning is your first task as you prepare to preach to your own generation.

The intended meaning of the text writer will also be the intended meaning of the Holy Spirit who inspired him to write. As you read his words, you are dealing with a revelation from God. Remember, “All scripture is God-breathed” (2 Tim. 3:16 NIV). The same Holy Spirit who inspired these words in the first place wants this message to be preached again through your sermon. And you want to preach in a way that is in line with the Spirit’s purposes.

5. Look carefully at the language of the text for what it reveals about its meaning.

Words carry thoughts. The words of the text are all we have of the writer’s thoughts. If he hadn’t written it down, we wouldn’t know what he was thinking. So we can look closely at his words, examining each one carefully for the part it plays in his message. Also look at how the words and phrases connect with one another and how the sentences are constructed.

If you can study the text in the original language, you can gain greater insight into the meaning. Many preachers study Greek and Hebrew for that reason. But even if you cannot read your texts in those languages, you can still use lexicons and word study books to guide you. Though your congregation is probably not interested in the Hebrew and Greek, your study will open insights that will make the message clearer to them. You can do this without going into detail about tenses and forms in the original languages.

6. Notice the various theological themes in the text.

Though a text has one intended meaning, it can have a number of significant theological themes. It can also have a number of different applications. When you do the structural diagram and your observations, you will list these themes and what the text says about them. Identifying these themes and understanding how they relate to one another in your text is a most helpful key to grasping its meaning.

These same theological themes will show up in different combinations in various texts throughout the Bible. In your preaching text you will try to discover the best wording for the writer’s subject and the modifier that limits and focuses it. You will also look through the text for the predicates, the various things the writer is saying about his subject. The theological themes in the text will give you what you need for these tasks.

7. Always take a God-centered perspective for interpreting your text.

This means looking at the text in terms of what it reveals about God and his dealings with his creation, particularly man. This is theological interpretation. It arises from the assumption that the Bible is really God’s means of making himself known to us. What it says about him will always be central to every text.

The Bible was not given by God to tell us about ancient religious people and how we should all try to be like them. It was given to tell us about the faithful God whom they either served or denied. Their response is not the central message; God’s will and his involvement with his creation are. Even texts that give instructions as to how we should behave reveal something about God.