July 13, 2015

First Ever Historical Drama Tells Advent Story

Adventist Review/ANN

Tell the World is the first historical drama to tell the story of the early history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The two-and-a-half hour film begins with William Miller’s search of the Bible, through which he discovers Jesus as his “friend.” The story concludes in 1874, after the organization of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, as the denomination sends its first missionary.

The cinematic feature shares the Adventist story through a team of some 97 professional actors and over 1,000 extras. It was filmed two years ago in Upper Canada Village, a living-history museum located in Ontario, with participants dressed in period clothing. The team consulted historians about how to make it as authentic and historically accurate as possible.

The 5.5 million-dollar film was an initiative of the Australian Union Conference. Major funding came from the South Pacific Division and the General Conference. The Adventist Media Network in Australia produced the film.

Chester Stanley, president of the Australian Union, stated that it is a “powerful story” that describes the hardships, trials, and determination of the early Adventist pioneers. Woven into the narrative are explanations about how these pioneers discovered core Adventist doctrinal beliefs, especially the Second Coming, Sabbath, and priestly ministry of Jesus Christ in the heavenly sanctuary.

The film was guided by Allan G. Lindsay, featured narrator and executive producer of the 1989 eight-part documentary series Keepers of the Flame. Lindsay expressed his deep gratitude to God for how He has led in our Adventist past. He viewed God’s providential hand also at work in the various stages of the film as it unfolded. Lindsay noted that he worked closely with George R. Knight, professor emeritus of church history at Andrews University, and James R. Nix, director of the Ellen G. White Estate.

Mark Finley, general editor for Adventist Review, welcomed those present at the screening. “When you watch it, the film grounds you in Adventist history. Many young people have lost their sense of identity. When you get done all you can say is ‘Thank God for the Seventh-day Adventist Church.’”

One particularly poignant part of the film features James and Ellen White as they bury their infant son. Ellen places a pair of infant shoes on a wooden cross. My eyes became misty as I noticed others around me wiping away tears from their eyes. Later the film shows their teenage son Henry, who, as he lies on his deathbed, requests to be buried next to his infant brother. “Mother,” he says, “I will meet you in heaven.”

Knight hopes that if this feature film is well received it will be possible to produce a follow-up that would continue the story up through the end of Ellen White’s life in 1915. “There is a tremendous amount of material about the growth and expansion of the Seventh-day Adventist Church that still needs to be told.”