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

October 2019Overcomer searches path to self-identity
Where does your true identity lie?

That is the tough question explored by the new film Overcomer. From the Kendrick Brothers, creators of War Room, Courageous, and Fireproof, this story depicts a new type of journey: the search for identity.

When a small-town steel plant shuts down, many of the families have to move away to find work, leaving the Brookshire High School sports teams without many of their previous players. For Coach John Harrison (Alex Kendrick), this threatens the existence of his basketball program.

However, Brookshire principal Olivia Brooks (Pricilla Shirer) soon asks John to coach the cross-country team. This starts in him a search for true identity, a challenge to discover who he really is beyond his coaching basketball.

He soon meets Hannah Scott (Aryn Wright-Thompson), a young girl with asthma and the only runner left on the cross-country team.

Past troubles and family secrets push Hannah toward a journey similar to Coach Harrison’s. She, too, will strive to find where her true identity lies. Most moviegoers will easily identify with that journey.

With a gripping narrative, solid acting, the Kendricks’ trademark subtle humor, surprising twists, and a clear portrayal of the gospel, the film begins with a lot of brokenness and travels to a lot of fulfillment. Overcomer illustrates what it means to find absolute meaning and identity in a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Mason Beasler

Empty Arms
Many who have visited the National Memorial for the Unborn in Chattanooga, Tennessee, have shared their stories of loss, regret, grief, forgiveness, and hope in Christ there. (See here.)

Wendy Williams and Ann Caldwell have compiled many of those dramatic accounts in Empty Arms: More than 60 Life-giving Stories of Hope from the Devastation of Abortion. The publication depicts the fascinating details that miraculously led to the existence of the National Memorial. Also included are stories of adoption and artists who rendered their gifts to express God’s love, care, and forgiveness to those who visit.

Some graphic descriptions of matters relating to crisis pregnancy situations are included, and parents are cautioned to use wisdom in deciding whether to share with children.

Available at online bookstores.

Anne Reed

Strong
In Strong, Catherine Parks cites 11 men of extraordinary strength – not the strength of superheroes, olympians, or sports stars. “… [T]his isn’t the kind of strength you’ll find in this book,” wrote Parks. “This is a different view of strength … this strength comes from outside of ourselves – from God.”

The author wrote with juvenile readers in mind, but these biographies are informative for adult readers, too. She includes men such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Eric Liddell, and Jim Elliot, relating how they persevered during extreme hardship and ridicule, and still impacted the world with the gospel.

She emphasizes that they were not born as heroes, but were simply men who followed God’s calling. Parks encourages readers with a bold charge: “Remember that the same God who strengthened them can strengthen you.” Available online and in bookstores.

Mason Beasler

He Numbered the Pores on My Face
Written by Scarlet Hiltibidal, He Numbered the Pores on My Face is sure to uplift any middle school girl facing difficulties with self-worth, appearance, or disappointment with specific challenging circumstances. Hiltibidal includes relatable situations to show young readers how to find their worth in Christ amidst what feels like chaos.

With topics ranging from crushes on boys to eating disorders, Hiltibidal points to the cross as a source of freedom. Hiltibidal presents a great reminder: If He knows the number of our pores, He knows how to take care of difficult life issues. Available at online and retail bookstores.

Hannah Harrison

May It Be So
May It Be So: Forty Days with the Lord’s Prayer by Justin McRoberts and Scott Erickson is an insightful, 40-day devotional guide anchored in The Lord’s Prayer.

Rather than teach through the prayer’s various petitions, each day’s devotion offers a short, guided prayer paired with a simple, engaging illustration. This unique approach may not be every believer’s cup of tea; however, for some, May It Be So will elicit deep insight and contemplation. Available at retail and online booksellers.

Rusty Benson

Murder, Motherhood, and Miraculous Grace
Fostering more than 140 children, author Debra Moerke wanted nothing more than to bring hope, love, and the promise of Jesus into the lives of all who entered her home. As a director of children’s ministries and a Christian crisis pregnancy center, Moerke felt a calling to minister to the most vulnerable.

When one of her foster daughters, Hannah, had a fatal run-in with her birth mother, Moerke’s world forever changed. Faced with the ultimate choice of forgiveness, she had to make the call on whether or not to forgive Hannah’s birth mother. Written from a sincere heart, Moerke opens her heart and tells a true story of murder, motherhood, and grace.

Readers should know that to adequately portray the truth, reality, and horror of this event, Moerke uses rather graphic description of Hannah’s murder. An eye-opening story, Moerke teaches how meaningful a foster parent can be while displaying the miraculous grace of Jesus Christ.

Available at online and retail bookstores October 8.

Hannah Harrison

Good Pictures, Bad Pictures
Kristen Jenson and artist Debbie Fox are taking action and cautioning children about pornography. With two books, Good Pictures, Bad Pictures: Porn Proofing Today’s Young Kids and Good Pictures, Bad Pictures Jr: A Simple Plan to Protect Young Minds, Jenson is making children aware of the differences between good pictures and “picture poison.”

Good Pictures, Bad Pictures Jr. is aimed at ages three to seven. Using simple images and wording, Jenson teaches young minds to be aware of pornography and the importance of talking to parents about it. Written from the perspective of a mom, Good Pictures, Bad Pictures Jr. explains what pornography is and how to avoid it.

Good Pictures, Bad Pictures is written with older school-age children in mind. Including simple and scientific knowledge of how the brain works and responds to porn, Jenson raises awareness and includes a journal at the end of each chapter asking questions to make sure children understand the effects of pornography.

Both books are helpful resources in informing little eyes and young minds about the dangers of pornography. Available at online retailers.

For more information on how porn affects the brain, see here.

Hannah Harrison