Christian Ødegård, a teacher at Rosendal Adventist school in Norway, did not imagine that one day he would work in an Adventist school, let alone be an Adventist. His testimony of how his relationship with Adventists began is very unique and unusual. As the South American Adventist News Agency (ASN), we spoke with him to learn the details of how a Hollywood movie brought him closer to the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
“In 2016, while I was serving in the army of my country, Norway, my colleagues and I were invited to see the war movie 'Hacksaw Ridge”' a movie about the late Desmond Doss, an Adventist soldier who did not use weapons in the battle of Okinawa,” explains Ødegård. “He was the first and only conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor in the war. That made a big impact on me, and I decided to be like Desmond Doss, attending my old church every Sunday.”
Around that time, Ødegård adds that also saw the movie “The Passion of the Christ” (a feature film of the crucifixion of Jesus). With tears in his eyes, he decided to reconsider his relationship with God. Coincidentally, both films were by famous actor, director, and producer Mel Gibson.
Ødegård comments that his older brother worked as a substitute teacher at the Rosendal school for a while and that every week he told him what it was like to work there.
“So since I had already seen the movie, I asked my brother if they kept the Sabbath and if they were vegetarian, and he said yes,” Ødegård recalls. “I was surprised, because I didn't think that in our small community we had Desmond Doss's church, and that made me very curious and happy."
Ødegård was at that time already studying the scriptures, and was interested in knowing what Adventists believe.
“One Sunday I went to the Adventist church to take a look because I know they keep the Sabbath, thinking the place would be empty,” he says “But there were some people there. They had just arrived from a Pathfinder camp. I tried to get closer to them, and at first, they were surprised that a stranger spoke to them, but little by little I began to gain their trust as I told them the reason for my visit. Then they invited me to participate in the Sabbath service the following Saturday. And since the summer of 2017, I have been keeping Saturday as the Sabbath."
Ødegård was baptized on April 28, 2018, at the Mjøndalen Adventist Church in Norway. ASN asked him what he thinks about the influence of Adventist films on people's lives.
"I consider that they are a very important evangelistic tool because they reach homes where we might not be able to enter easily, they help us to know more about the Bible, and remind us how we should live as Christians," he responded.
The testimony of the brave North American Adventist military man still echoes in Ødegård’s life, who has decided to share the message of the Bible with his family in Norway. Currently, he preaches and tells how God transformed his life through feature films.
Christian film productions.
The Adventist Church in South America began producing films for evangelism in 1969, with the film "The Final Victory." Since then, several films have been made with the same objective, but sporadically. However, since mid-2017 the church has started regularly producing films through the video platform s feliz7play.com.
We spoke with the manager of digital strategies for the church in South America, Carlos Magalhães, about the work that the religious organization does with these feature films.
“Evangelism through film is something that churches have been doing since the first movies appeared,” says Magalhães. “The churches saw this as a way to carry the gospel in a more visual and didactic way. Although many films produced today can carry negative messages, Christian films are different and aim to share moral principles and spiritual messages. For this reason, I believe that movies can be a very effective way to attract people's attention and illustrate spiritual realities that help transform lives.”
Magalhães also comments that Adventists in South America have two main objectives when using the films: to dialogue with new generations, and to share the Christian worldview with society. These goals have been successfully achieved. As a result of these films, many people have contacted the church and expressed how the productions have helped them learn more about the gospel and the love of God.