Reviews: family entertainment, documentaries, resources, books, music
AFA Staff
AFA Journal staff reviews movies, books and other resources

Above, Logan (left) and Sean (Cameron Arnett and Andrew Cheney, respectively) reflect after the death of a race car driver in Champion.

June 2017 – Champion – gripping movie with gospel message
In the supercharged setting of dirt track racing, Champion artfully weaves together a number of themes that complement and play well against each other. More important, they all point clearly to the truths of the Bible.

It’s a gripping story line – Sean, an aging race car driver, seethes with anger and vengeance toward Ray, a rookie who threatens the veteran’s place at the top of the heap.

A tragic crash on the track creates a plot twist from which major story lines emerge – Ray’s estranged relationship with his father, Sean’s challenge of rearing a 10-year-old daughter whose mother deserted them, and the fractured relationship between Sean and Rex, a friend from childhood who dares to confront Sean about his destructive attitudes and behavior.

Many issues surface – grief, drug abuse, finding peace with God, fear, and dealing with guilt – but the overarching theme is forgiveness.

“I hope people who see it will connect especially with the theme of forgiveness,” director Judd Brannon told AFA Journal. “Maybe some will be able to turn the corner to begin restoring a relationship. Another theme I’m passionate about is the way it portrays the role of fathers.”

Champion has all the qualities to accomplish Brannon’s hopes. The entire cast does a masterful job, and production values are solid. Actors whom viewers will recognize include Gary Graham (all four seasons of Star Trek: Enterprise), Andrew Cheney (Beyond the Mask), and Robert Amaya (Mom’s Night Out, the “Snake King” in Courageous). It premiered in theaters May 19. DVD release will come later.
Randall Murphree

undefinedSwallowed Up In God
In his insightful introduction, author Dr. Matt Friedeman calls Francis Asbury an American hero and a Kingdom hero. Friedeman writes, “America was the land of many lost, Asbury came by assignment and stayed while others fainted.”

In Swallowed Up In God: The Best of Francis Asbury’s Journal and Letters, the author gives readers a deep look into the heart and the ministry of this saintly Methodist circuit rider.

After coming from England to America in 1771, he averaged 6,000 miles a year on horseback, eventually logging more than 300,000 miles and 16,000 sermons. He was instrumental in keeping the emancipation issue alive and ordained the first black ministers in the U.S.

Consider these pithy quotes from Friedeman’s selected excerpts:

My fare is sometimes poor, my rides are long, my horse is lame; yet whilst Christ is mine, I feel nothing like murmuring or discontent” (January 11, 1791).

I have seen enough to make me sick; but if I faint in the day of adversity, my strength is small” (October 7, 1772 – first American letter to parents in England).

The author is founding pastor of DaySpring Community Church and professor of evangelism and discipleship at Wesley Biblical Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi. The book is available at teleiospress.com and other online booksellers.
Randall Murphree

undefinedBalance
When he was four years old, Nik Wallenda watched a video of Karl Wallenda, his grandfather, walking a high wire. He watched as the rigging failed, and Karl fell to his death. Right then Nik decided he wanted to be a hero like Karl.

The Great Wallenda family has a legacy spanning over two centuries of death-defying high wire feats. As a member of the seventh Wallenda generation, Nik has known nothing else.

Nik’s parents instilled in him trust in God that has reassured him through difficult, and often painful, times. In his book Balance, Nik tells the story of his heritage and is transparent about his personal struggles and failings. The reason for his honesty: He believes one’s scars must not be hidden so God’s power and restoration can be clearly shown.

Many watched on June 23, 2013 as Nik walked across the Grand Canyon, praying with every step. Some wondered if his praying was just part of his showmanship, or was it genuine. The prayers come from a passion not only to defy limits but to change hearts for God.

For Nik, success requires his life to be in balance between his craft and God, his family and God, and his pride and God. Faith is his true source of balance and strength, and Christ is his balance pole.

Learn more at wallendaenterprises.com or purchase at online booksellers.
Debbie Fischer

undefinedHealing Broken Relationships
Relationships, even solid ones, can shatter in unexpected ways. Help for restoration can be found in Healing Broken Relationships, one of 68 mini books in a collection titled Resources for Personal Change from Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation.

Authored by professional biblical counselors, each booklet in the series addresses a different issue from a biblical perspective.

Other titles include, iSnooping on Your Kid, Can You Change If You’re Gay?, How to Love Difficult People, and many more. The mini books can be found at ccef.org.
Debbie Fischer

undefinedThe Singing Stone
The Singing Stone is a parable telling the story of a town where citizens are forbidden to say anything about God, and it is tied to the reality that religious freedom is denied in many places. It is based on Jesus’s words in Luke 19:40 – “I tell you that if these [disciples] should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”

The story follows Sorbak, who is charged with making sure no one in the village talks about God. Then he comes in contact with the truth about God. It’s a great read for parent-and-child interaction, and a solid story for older children to read for themselves and to younger siblings.

Author Paul Bass is a gifted storyteller, illustrator, blogger, broadcaster, and homeschool dad. A free digital copy of The Singing Stone is available at pbass.net and hard copy at online booksellers.
Randall Murphree