MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
On Blu-ray and DVD, Netflix Streaming, Amazon, iTunes, Google Play and other streaming services.
Directed by Jesse Moss. Documentary
“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” – Hebrews 13:2 (KJV)
Most Christians have struggled with this verse of scripture from time to time, especially in our current age of anxiety over strangers of every shape, color, nation, and tribe. In 2012 Williston, North Dakota became full of thousands of job hunters and fortune seekers who had travelled to this modest town in hopes of work in the lucrative shale oil industry. Within months, Williston offered high-paying jobs along with a high cost of living. And hundreds of workers had no place to lay their head.
Pastor Jay Reinke felt that God was guiding him to open up the parking lot and building of the Concordia Lutheran Church to provide rooms and the occasional meal to as many persons as the church could house. The Overnighters is a filmed document of the church’s “Overnighter” Program.
While the church seemed able to establish and enforce strict guidelines for everyone who stayed with them, there were many problems that developed over time, as the weeks dragged into months and the need for housing continued unabated. Since the oil companies seemed casual about references, there were more than a few persons with criminal records coming to town seeking a second chance. At one point Pastor Reinke and his family allow one of the workers to stay in their home, not realizing that the man’s past problems could present a real risk to them.
There are some members of the parish who openly oppose the Overnighter ministry for a variety of reasons, including the inconvenience of providing shelter, the types of persons who show up, and the shale oil industry in general. Others vote with their feet, leaving the church altogether. Pastor Reinke’s family is surprisingly supportive of this ministry, but their voices are not enough to smooth things over. It doesn’t help that Pastor Reinke established this program without going through the normal administrative channels that could create ownership by his members.
The Overnighters follows Pastor Reinke, his church and community for about two years, and there are more than a few surprise turns along the way. Nothing is ever quite as it seems and people are always more complicated than first impressions.
Jesse Moss is not only the director of The Overnighters but also its director of photography. The cinematography is beautiful. The personalities who are highlighted are unforgettable.
I highly recommend that you take the time to watch The Overnighters, one of the best documentaries about the church that I have seen in years.
Four halos: A compelling true-life story about the ways in which unexpected opportunities for ministry come packaged with a host of unexpected challenges.
Two pitchforks: Some swearing, including one PG-13 F Bomb; mature themes including some sexual references.
Do you have comments about this movie or movie review? E-mail your comments. (Comments will be posted to our web site.)
Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
COMMENTS! Do you have comments about this movie or movie review?
E-mail comments. (Comments will be posted to our web site.)
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