So, this is it, the end of our series on Films and east to west’s ethos words! I hope you’ve enjoyed it. Throughout history, stories have been used to convey messages and truths to the masses. Cultures passed down their legends and legacies through storytelling and visual representation before reading and writing were widely accessible, and our morality tales and understanding of big concepts are told using fables and parables.
Films are simply an extension of this storytelling legacy, and over the past 11 months we’ve used them to tell the story of east to west. I trust that you’ve found them useful. Maybe, they’ve sparked a desire to (re)watch these films or inspired you to seek out movies you’ve not seen before? At heart, I hope they’ve been able to help you connect with east to west and who we are. They’ve been a pleasure to write, and I appreciate you taking the time to be a willing(?) audience!
wePRAY will be slightly different next term (from September), so keep your eyes peeled for that, but I wanted to finish by thanking you for reding about and praying for our work over the past year. We’ve truly felt God working through your intercessions and are so grateful to have your pray and support.
The Shawshank Redemption
The author Stephen King is synonymous with the Horror genre. Over the years he’s penned IT, the Shining and Misery. Who better then to pen (Rita Hayworth and) The Shawshank Redemption (to give it its proper title), a film far removed from the traditional King fodder!
The film chronicles the experiences of a formerly successful banker, Andy Dufresne, imprisoned in the gloomy Shawshank prison for the murder of his wife, a crime he didn’t commit (don’t worry, he wasn’t a member of the A-Team!). During the course of the movie, you see a man’s unique approach to dealing with his new, tortuous life and as he builds relationships with his fellow inmates.
This month we’re thinking about our final, ‘unofficial’ ethos word – Hope! Specifically, how do we find hope in the darkness and bleakness of an existence that isn’t fair? For Andy, hope is found in his relationships with others. Surrounded by the worst of society, rightly imprisoned for their crimes, Andy searches for, and finds humanity through his actions and interactions with fellow inmates and warden/guards alike.
There are three moments in the film that really highlight this. Firstly, the prisoners are giving a work duty to re-tar the roof of a local building. In the searing heat of an American summer, the prisoners work, whilst the guards talk amongst themselves. Andy overhears one guard moaning about an inheritance he’s been left. His complaint… the taxes that he’d have to pay. Andy offers a solution – ‘do you trust your wife?’ This comment results in the guard hanging Andy off the side of the building, having thought Andy was being offensive. He goes onto explain that a one-off gift (of the inheritance) to his wife is tax-free, allowing the guard to keep all the money. The cost of this advice. Cold beers for all the prisoners. Later we see the prisoners sipping cold beer on the roof, whilst Andy sits to one side, smiling to himself (without a beer).
Andy’s financial skills means the warden becomes interested in him. This leads to the second key moment. Andy is asked to work on the warden’s personal accounts and is given special permission to use the office. After a few weeks, Andy takes it upon himself to lock himself into the office, and play classical music across the Tannoy system, much to the anger and upset of the guards. A rare treat for the inmates and a costly act of kindness for Andy which sees him beaten and locked in solitary confinement.
The final part that’s worth highlighting is after Andy has escaped (through a sewage pipe, in the middle of a storm). Red, a fellow inmate, who Andy has built a strong relationship with, is released, and faces life on the outside (for the first time in around 40 years). He recalls a story Andy told him over a game of chess, about a tree, in a field from when he was young. Red, struggling with life on the outside, determines to search this tree out to see what was so special about it. After searching for a long time, Red finds the spot, and underneath is buried a small box and chess piece. In the box is a letter from Andy to Red, asking him if he wants to go back to his life struggling to cope or keep going. The final scene from the film shows Red, approaching Andy on a beach, where they greet each other like the old friends they are.
These three examples show something of hope, and why it’s so important. As Christians we know our eternal hope is found in Christ – our redemption is found in Christ on the cross. But for the characters in the film, their hope was found in the humanity they were being treated with… indeed, Andy’s hope was found here too… and so ultimately was his redemption. This is the Shawshank Redemption.
If you get a chance, (and you can cope with some inappropriate language), can I suggest you take the time to look up this utterly brilliant film… I sincerely believe you won’t be disappointed.
February Prayer Update
We know that hearing answers to prayers can be really encouragement and is a testament to their power and the faithfulness of God. Below are what we asked you to pray for in January 2022 and an update as to how God has heard and answered.
The new team members settling into roles as the partnership continues to change and develop. Our team have done a remarkable job over the past six months, supporting over 200 young people in 1:1 settings across our SWP partnership.
For the partnership to continue to grow in trust and collaboration. Our work has continued to grow and relationships deepen as we work collaboratively to serve the young people we’re blessed to come into contact with.
For the young people that we seek to serve who are often struggling with both challenging situations and a support system that is overwhelmed. We continue to seek to meet these needs and many young people have been positively impacted by what our brilliant team have been able to achieve since September.
For plans as year 2 gets underway in April/Sept 2022 – that we would build on a good start this year, growing in our support for young people. We’re excited to start out second year serving young people. Our work has grown, with many schools increasing their funding to meet their needs. Pray for the young people who’ll be blessed by this, but also for peace and healing as it’s clear the need is growing.
July Prayer Requests
As we end our academic year, we’ve asked David to share some of the prayer requests from our Surrey Wellbeing Partners (SWP) and for those in the team preparing to leave.
Pray for the Surrey Wellbeing Partnership seeking to embed systemic change meaning young people can access the support they need for their wellbeing and mental health.
Pray for Tracy (Town Farm) as she moves on from her role in school to working for the NHS.
Pray for Rob as he leaves his role at St. Paul’s
Please pray that our team would have time and space over the Summer holidays to rest and recover
Pray for our recruitment of new team members into east to west and their induction process in September
Pray for our team as they prepare to meet again at the end of August