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The Narnia Connection: From England to Thailand to Charleston

The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe

There are many Christians in my practice as a family doctor in North Charleston, and it is not uncommon for us to speak the things of God together. While I was sharing with a pastor’s wife named Shannon Sims about Mere Anglicanism, the conference St. Philip’s hosted in January which this year focused on  C.S. Lewis, she immediately responded that she and her husband had been missionaries to Thailand for five years and had used the film adaptations of The Chronicles of Narnia, particularly The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, as an evangelical tool.

She and her husband were sponsored in Bangkok, a land where they did not speak the language. She said it was the hardest thing that they had ever done, yet it was the best thing they had ever done with their four sons.

Given that she and her husband, Christian, were still learning Thai, they would show the C.S. Lewis movies about two times per year to convey the unknown concept of faith. They sent out pamphlets to advertise the “free movie” that was going to be shown and set up a room with chairs, popping popcorn to re-create an American- style movie theater experience. Thai and neighboring Laotians watched the story of Aslan the lion unfold (with subtitles), and Jesus was revealed to them.

The foundations of faith––one God and his forgiveness, the sacrifice of Jesus and His resurrection––are hard for people to comprehend when they live in a land of multiple shrines with their respective gods from multiple religions. A translation for a word like “faith” does not exist in their language. Shannon and her husband made a decision to speak only Jesus and his free gift of sacrifice for mankind in a land where the name of Jesus is unknown and where Christian conversion can result in disinheritance and disownership by one’s family. People who were terrified about coming to church would come to a movie! There was always an altar call after each showing. 

There was a time when Shannon and Christian set up the  big screen under a bridge in a slum area, and days after the movie had been shown, they  prayed for the sick like Aslan’s resurrection. “God had us covered in a bubble, and shielded us and our kids,” Shannon said. “We had supernatural grace ... a lot of seeds were planted.” 

The telling of the Gospel account through the parable of Narnia brought an understanding and receiving of Christ  in  a less taxing way than their early Bible studies, when the couple would become exhausted with the labor of slow and broken translations, but even there, the power of God would break through for the willing multinational recipients that came––and their hearts and minds were transformed.

Who would have thought that from the works of C.S. Lewis in 1950s England, the  Christian message would continue decades later to a missionary team taking the  Narnia movies to a bridge in Thailand, to a conference in Charleston, to a conversation in a North Charleston medical office? The partnering of God’s people through time and space to the ends of the earth––now that’s our God! It is merely wonderful, and let us Praise His name together forever. Amen.