18th October 2016

Generations of Seventh-day Adventists have grown up with stories of the exploits of Private First Class, Desmond Doss. His heroic actions on the island of Okinawa in the bloodiest battle of World War II were shared with Adventist youth at summer camps and in Pathfinder meetings for decades. Doss himself would teach groups of boys and girls the bowline knot that he used to lower 75 injured soldiers to safety, an act that awarded him the Congressional Medal of Honour, the highest military award in the United States.
In November this incredible story, told in Hacksaw Ridge, will appear on more than 3,000 screens around the UK, and in every major media market of the world. What was once an 'Adventist' story will be known to people of many cultures and faith traditions. Below is a special commentary and a statement from the 'It is Written' ministry, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists and Pastor Victor Hulbert from the Trans-European Division (TED).

John Bradshaw, speaker/director for It Is Written:

It looks like Hacksaw Ridge is going to be huge. And that matters for Christians.
It's likely that millions of people are going to watch the powerfully told storyDoss Receive award of a Seventh-day Adventist war hero. And they'll learn about not only his deeply held beliefs and faith, but also about the remarkable God who enabled Doss to carry himself with such outstanding grace, commitment, and bravery.

Hacksaw Ridge neither downplays Desmond Doss' Christian faith nor minimises his beliefs. Instead, the movie respectfully and accurately portrays Doss' steadfast faith in God. Corporal Doss, a Private First Class at the time of the Battle of Okinawa, is presented as a balanced, Sabbath-keeping, vegetarian, Bible-believing Christian who was moved by faith in God to adhere to his beliefs in the face of overwhelming opposition. Gibson's Hacksaw Ridge is an inspirational story of a Christian's unwavering faith in God.

In one of the later scenes of the movie, Doss, played by Hollywood leading actor Andrew Garfield is doing all he can to save American servicemen. After lowering a soldier to safety, Doss prays, "Lord, give me one more!" Each time he lowers another soldier to safety the prayer is repeated: "Lord, give me one more!"

Doss' prayer is the prayer that should be prayed by Christians everywhere. "Lord, give me one more. Help me get one more!" While time is running out for Planet Earth, precious opportunities are being presented to reach this world for Christ. Disciples of Christ recognise that witnessing opportunities present themselves in countless ways. Even through Hollywood blockbusters.

Churches and members will need to be ready to engage in conversations with those who watch Hacksaw Ridge, and be prepared to answer questions about what drove Doss to be steadfast in his faith in God.


North American Division's statement:

The story of Desmond Doss, the first conscientious objector to receive the esteemed Medal of Honour, is one that has inspired generations of his fellow Seventh-day Adventist Church members. As powerfully doss charactershared in the upcoming film, Hacksaw Ridge, Doss' strong convictions, his Adventist beliefs, and his unshakeable confidence in God come alive, and hold the promise of inspiring a new generation of believers.

While a graphic portrayal of the realities of war, Hacksaw Ridge paints a stirring portrait of the resolute manner in which Doss lived his faith, even while living through the horrors of the battlefield. The Seventh-day Adventist Church historically has strongly discouraged its members from bearing arms, and Doss embodied that philosophy. He became the first person to voluntarily enlist and then be granted conscientious objector status, the role in which he contributed to the often-heroic rescue of scores of his fellow soldiers.

Pastor Victor Hulbert, TED Communication director:

Hacksaw Ridge, a Mel Gibson film about Desmond Doss, the man Adventists know as WWII's unlikeliest hero, is about to hit our screens. You may not like the violence – after all, portraying a bloody battle scene where Doss saves 75 lives is not going to look very pretty. You may not like cinemas. That is fine. Doss didn't like it either – but he gave permission for his life story to be turned into a film as he realised that his humble journey could help others discover faith.

Hacksaw Ridge is the biggest PR opportunity the Church has ever had. Mel Gibson, a man from a radically different faith background was convicted that this is a story he had to tell. It is a story of moral courage, faith, pacifism and Sabbath keeping. focus magazineEven the evangelical world is enthused with the Sabbath keeping part of the film – comparing it favourably with the classic 1924 story of Olympian Eric Liddell in Chariots of Fire.

You can prepare for questions that may come your way as a result of the film by ordering a specially produced edition FOCUS magazine now while stocks last. Phone: 01476 591 900.

Also see:

Adventist Review: Would Desmond Doss be happy with 'Hacksaw Ridge'?
Deadline Hollywood: Mel Gibson interviewed during his Venice Film Festival comeback.
Adventist Review: 'Hacksaw Ridge' talking points: A guide for church members.

[Richard Daly]

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