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The Insanity of God, reveiwed by John Lathrop

The Insanity of God (LifeWay Films 2016).

The film, The Insanity of God, is based on the book with the same title; it tells the story of Nik and Ruth Ripken’s involvement in missions. Ripken, by the way, is not their real name, it is a pseudonym. The film is narrated by the Ripkens and contains reenactments of some of the accounts from the book.

In the beginning of the film the Ripkens tell the story of how they got involved in missions. Ruth knew at a very early age that she was called to missions, Nik, her husband, came to this realization later in life. He was convinced by the words of Jesus in the Great Commission passage in Matthew 28 that he too should be involved in missions. The Ripkens began their ministry in pastoral work. After a missionary ministered in one of the churches that they pastored they felt that they needed to make their move and get onto the mission field. They initially went to Malawi and loved it, but due to recurring bouts with malaria they had to leave the country. They then moved to South Africa. After this they were told that there were a couple of other African countries that they could consider: the Sudan or Somalia. Their leadership felt that they were to go to Somalia.

Nik said that when he went to Somalia he felt like he had flown into hell. The needs there were overwhelming. By his third night in the country he wanted to leave, however, he did not. He stayed and tried to help in whatever ways he could, mostly through relief work. The seeming lack of progress, the execution of four Somali Christians whom he had shared communion with, and a family tragedy eventually resulted in the Ripkens returning to the United States. They were broken by their experience. In the film Nik asks the question “What do you do when everything seem to be crucifixion and no resurrection?”

Their experience was a difficult one, but it led them on a search. They wanted to find out how Christians could grow and thrive in difficult places, in lands where believers are persecuted. Nik journeyed to a number of nations where Christians suffered persecution to try to find out how they were able to bear up under it and thrive. He went to learn and conducted many hours of interviews with believers in these nations. This is the resurrection part of the story.

The film features stories from three different nations: Russia, China, and an unidentified country in Central Asia. It is virtually impossible not to be moved by these stories. The account from Russia focuses on a Christian man who was arrested and imprisoned for seventeen years for his faith. How he kept his faith during this time and the impact that he had on his fellow prisoners is truly an amazing story. The segment about China gives attention to the response of the Chinese Christians when they heard about the persecution of the believers in Somalia. And, the portion about Central Asia focuses on one man that Nik Ripen called “the toughest man I ever met.” I am purposely not providing a lot of details because I do not want to spoil the film should you decide to see it (which I hope you do). I believe that you will be impressed by the faith, dedication, obedience, and perseverance of these believers who have lived under persecution.

The Insanity of God does not gloss over the harsh realities that believers face in lands where Christianity is not welcomed. It asks the tough questions. The film is both challenging and inspiring. I have also read the book The Insanity of God and would recommend that as well, it contains more information than is included in the film. The book and the film are very important resources. I hope that they receive wide spread exposure. All Christians, particularly those interested in missions, should see this film. I highly recommend it. The Ripkens have done a great service to the Body of Christ in sharing their story and the stories of those they have interviewed.

Reviewed by John Lathrop


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Category: Ministry, Winter 2017

About the Author: John P. Lathrop is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and is an ordained minister with the International Fellowship of Christian Assemblies. He has written for a number of publications and is the author of four books Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers Then and Now (Xulon Press, 2008), The Power and Practice of the Church: God, Discipleship, and Ministry (J. Timothy King, 2010), Answer the Prayer of Jesus: A Call for Biblical Unity (Wipf & Stock, 2011) and Dreams & Visions: Divine Interventions in Human Experience (J. Timothy King, 2012). He also served as co-editor of the book Creative Ways to Build Christian Community (Wipf & Stock, 2013). Amazon Author page. Facebook

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