(No big plot -spoilers)
This film starring Reese Witherspoon tells the story of a group of Sudanese children who escape from an attack which leaves their village and all their parents destroyed. Snatching up a few possessions they begin a terrifying trek of around 900 miles to eventual and relative safety in a refugee camp in Kenya.
Whilst not a true story in the strict sense, it is based on an amalgamation of true events as the story told about these individual did actually happen in a variety of ways to thousands and thousands of children.
The aspect that caught my attention was the children’s need for a ‘chief’ – a leader for their rag-tag tribe. In the sudden absence of parents, the eldest son became the chief.
‘You are the chief now’ the children say to Mamire after his older brother has sacrificed himself for their safety. For Mamire, being chief is a burden he carries with guilt and over the course of the film and their life-times an uneasy tension builds up between him and his brother Paul over Mamire’s worthiness as a leader.
A chief is supposed to lead the tribe to safety and provisions, to keep it from harm and to keep it together. Theo, the older brother, had done these things admirably but when Mamire and his tribe arrive in America, Mamire is not able to keep them together – a devastating loss that strains their relationships to breaking point.
I was thinking about this idea of a chief and comparing it to the parable in John’s gospel in which Jesus says ‘I am the good shepherd’. It could easily translate – ‘I am the good chief’. Jesus promises to lead the tribe/flock to safe provisions, to keep it together and keep it away from harm by laying down his own life if necessary.
But there is always a resurrection which leads to reunion, reconciliation and rejoicing.
But am I talking about the film or about Jesus?
I won’t say what happens in the film you’d have to see it for yourself but I can say that my experience of Jesus my chief is that he fulfills all those qualities and with him there was, and is and will be a resurrection, a reunion, a reconciliation and rejoicing.