Inspiring and Amazing
Here’s a little history about the All Saints Church in Smyrna, Tennessee. Ye Win, who had just finished high school in Karen Thailand and hoped to become a missionary like his father, was long gone when the government troops returned to the village and burned it to the ground.
It would be 10 years before Ye Win would hear his mother’s voice again, and even longer before he would be reunited with his parents. During those years, he saw many friends and fellow Karens suffer and die or end up as refugees. More than 100,000 Karens relocated to refugee camps in Thailand, which shares its northwest border with Myanmar.
Others, like Ye Win, would be resettled in the United States. Through the arduous journey, Ye Win said, “God was close by.” He and about 70 Karen refugees ended up in Smyrna, Tenn., a small Bible-Belt city a half-hour from Nashville. There they found God waiting for them at a tiny Episcopal church that was on the brink of shutting down. Together, the refugees and a handful of older church members needed a miracle.
Michael Spurlock (John Corbett) has left his job as a salesman to become a pastor of All Saints Episcopal Church, a small and struggling church that he is ordered to shut down. He is joined by his wife Amiee (Cara Buono) and son Atticus (Myles Moore). The new pastor is surprised that suddenly a group of Burmese immigrants from Southeast Asia managed by Ye Win (Nelson Lee) is there.
Michael and Ye Win find a bond and begin to work together to save the church. The main problem is financial, which happens to be Michael’s expertise. But it doesn’t take long for him to realize the real problem involves not having enough church members.
The Bishop (Gregory Alan Williams) and his staff are patient, but with no one paying the bills they have little leeway. So they give Michael two months to pay off the bills. He knows this is a challenge he might not be able to pull off. Luckily his wife and son help to keep his spirit going. Amiee has embraced the immigrants, especially the children, and is teaching them faith songs.
When Michael says God spoke to him with a solution of using the immigrants to create a farm, Amiee and the Bishop are doubtful. And the only person who can help is the cantankerous Vietnam vet Forrest (Barry Corbin), who refuses to help these new arrivals and continues to question Michael’s real faith as a pastor.
All Saints was filmed at the actual church in Smyrna, Tennessee, and some of the real-life church members are in the movie. The cast is a huge asset to Steve Armour’s screenplay and Steve Gomer’s direction.
The following dialogue lines spoken by Ye Win are especially inspiring.
“We are the people of God — even if we are lost, away from our home, even if we are isolated, we are still close to God. God never left our people.”
Thanks to Sony Pictures and their Affirm Films for bringing this heartfelt true story to the big screen.
(Released by Lionsgate/ Affirm Films and rated “PG” by MPAA.)
Review also posted at www.reviewexpress.com.