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

March 2020The Unseen Realm
Accented with brilliant color and an engaging narrative, The Unseen Realm is a fascinating documentary that takes an in-depth look at how the supernatural world described in the Bible touches our own. Based on the book of the same title by Michael S. Heiser, this documentary guides the viewer on a journey through the Bible in order to better understand and compare the various Scriptures concerning the nature of God, angels, demons, giants, and the gods of Babel.

Featuring the work of several artists and the input of modern biblical scholars, The Unseen Realm challenges one to think differently about the world and more deeply about the ultimate victory that Christ won on the cross.

The film is available for digital purchase at faithlifetv.com/the-unseen-realm.

Canada Burns

Mercy for Today: Psalm 51
Jonathan Parnell, lead pastor of Cities Church in Minneapolis-St. Paul examines one of King David’s darkest, most sinful moments in a new devotional book, Mercy for Today: A Daily Prayer from Psalm 51. Parnell reveals how Psalm 51 can be a roadmap to daily repentance.

He urges readers to understand that God shows us mercy because He is merciful. It’s His nature.

Quite different from David’s story of adultery and murder, Parnell purposefully lived his life so as to never “need” Psalm 51. But he eventually discovered that even devout Christians desperately need God’s mercy daily. Parnell gives readers practical, biblical insight on how to pursue God and experience His joy every day.

Mercy for Today: A Daily Prayer from Psalm 51 is available at retail and online bookstores.

Joy Lucius

Be Loved
In her inspirational book Be Loved, Emma Mae Jenkins focuses on using her vivacious personality to encourage young girls. As a joyful Jesus lover and YouTuber, Jenkins uses her high school struggles and triumphs to remind girls they are loved by their heavenly Father – no matter their previous mistakes.

Each chapter is crafted with testimonies, Bible verses, prayers, and beautiful snapshots of Jenkins living life to the fullest. Her joy shines throughout and will bring a smile to any reader’s face.

Jenkins said, “What I want readers to take away from this book is that they are fully known by God and fully loved by Him.”

Available at online and retail bookstores.

Hannah Harrison

Passover Next Door (Passover April 8-16)
Passover Next Door by David and Betty Weinberger is an informative book explaining the practices of Passover from the perspective of a messianic Jewish family. This illustrative tale teaches two young Christian girls, Clara and Claire, the history behind Passover.

The book addresses the first Passover, symbols of the Jewish faith, and why they are still celebrated today. Passover Next Door is a great resource for families to learn together about the significance of this important biblical event, observed this year April 8-16. Available at online and retail bookstores.

Hannah Harrison

Caution: Just Mercy
Just Mercy is the story of Bryan Stevenson, a Harvard educated attorney who founded the Equal Justice Institute in Montgomery, Alabama. The film released nationwide in theaters in January. The film is based on Stevenson’s memoir of his experience defending death row inmate Walter “Johnny D” McMillian.

McMillian was wrongly arrested, imprisoned, convicted, and placed on death row for a 1986 murder he didn’t commit.

Just Mercy is measured, and the guilty carefully identified. The film is not an indictment of white people. Nor does it portray black men angrily looking for white people to hate. The film depicts real people with real emotions. Themes of humility, loyalty, and justice are well done, and the entire film is extremely powerful and thought-provoking with elements of faith woven throughout.

But it must be approached with extreme caution. The film’s depiction of the execution of a death row inmate is heavy and disturbing. Unfortunately, there are more than 40 profanities including G-D.

Just Mercy is rated PG-13. A full review of the film can be found here.

Rebecca Davis

Home Sweet Home
Home Sweet Home starring Natasha Bure, daughter of Candace Cameron Bure and niece of Kirk Cameron, is set to release in select theaters March 1 and on DVD/Blu-ray May 1.

It’s a sweet, clean romantic comedy about a flirtatious barista named Victoria who is accustomed to attention from men and goes to great lengths to get it. But when she meets Jason, the new Christian in town, things start to change. She realizes she is tired of her social butterfly lifestyle and is searching for meaning and wholeness – although she has no clue what those things really are. In an effort to attract Jason’s attention, she fakes being a Christian, but, in the end, she comes face to face with faith.

The film takes somewhat of a shallow approach to Christianity but still sends a strong message about authenticity. Overall, Home Sweet Home, not rated, is a feel-good family friendly film.

Rebecca Davis

Healing Together: A Guide to Supporting Sexual Abuse Survivors
Anne Marie Miller’s life story in Healing Together is rooted in past tragedy but moves to present hope.

At age 16, Miller was sexually abused by Southern Baptist (SBC) youth pastor Mark Aderholt (25) in 1996.

Nearly a decade later, Miller recognized it as abuse. A series of events led to a 2007 internal investigation by the SBC’s International Mission Board (IMB) which concluded Alderholt “more likely than not” engaged in an “inappropriate sexual relationship” with Miller.

Miller thought he was fired after the IMB findings, but she later discovered he resigned and was quickly hired by another SBC church.

Miller’s suffering intensified until 2018, when she filed charges against Alderholt. In 2018 and 2019, he was charged with multiple sexual crimes and received 30 days in jail, two years of deferred adjudication, and a $4,000 fine.

The trauma produced by the response of the SBC has left Miller with unresolved trust issues concerning even the local church. As victim and survivor, she provides insight for anyone desiring to understand sexual abuse trauma and respond appropriately.

“I am encouraged by the first steps made by the SBC and the IMB,” Miller told AFAJ. “… but because of the decentralized nature of the SBC, they can’t implement any policy changes church-wide.”

The SBC has created a curriculum addressing sexual abuse and held a three-day “Caring Well” conference last September featuring victim advocates, attorneys, therapists, and survivors. It drew hundreds of pastors and church officials.

Healing Together is available at retail and online bookstores.

Anne Reed