Hacksaw Ridge, Mel Gibson’s blockbuster movie on the courage of Adventist WWII medic, Desmond Doss, has been awarded the title of ‘Best Foreign Film‘ at the prestigious Polish award ceremony, Bestsellery Empik 2017. The award ceremony on Tuesday, 6 February, recognized the best-selling books, films, CDs, games and magazines across the country. Hacksaw Ridge outstripped other cinema hits such as Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Bridget Jones 3.
The ceremony was broadcast live by Poland’s largest private TV network, TVN. Once again, Polish Adventists feel rewarded for the hard work they put in to highlighting the faith of Desmond Doss during last year’s film release.
However, the level of satisfaction is at its highest in Krakow where, just the Sabbath prior to the ceremony, Natalia Tatarczuch was baptized as a direct result of watching the film. Natalia had never heard of Seventh-day Adventists but was so inspired by the faith and courage of Doss that she went to see the film twice before searching out the Krakow Adventist church on the internet.
When Pastor Artur Dżaman met Natalia, he stated that she could not wait for baptism. “Every conversion is a special event in my pastoral experience,” he said, “but this was unique.” Clearly excited, Dżaman noted that God can touch people’s lives in very different places. “Just as he cried out to Adam in paradise, ‘Adam, where are you?’ Natalia found God in the movie Hacksaw Ridge.”
The experience has given Pastor Dżaman a new vision: “As a church we must be where there are people. We must be the salt of this earth. Salt in soup and not in a salt shaker. I am immeasurably delighted for this miracle of conversion. God is great!”
Throughout 2017, the Adventist Church in Poland went to extraordinary lengths to make sure that this was not just a movie release, but an opportunity for church members, youth and Adventist media to share the faith of Doss. [See Hacksaw Ridge opens unprecedented witnessing opportunities in Central Europe.]
The Adventist Publishing house published two books on the Doss story as well as thousands of copies of a special edition of Signs of the Times. Hope Channel Poland gained permission to dub the Desmond Doss documentary, The Conscientious Objector by Terry Benedict. This was made available on DVD and, working with the distributor, was also added as an extra on the Polish DVD release of Hacksaw Ridge.
Adventist youth were also a significant part of the witness, using social media, special evangelism programs, Desmond Doss t-shirts, magazine distribution alongside historic US military vehicles in the town square, and even organizing a Desmond Doss fun run.
“In my entire life as a Seventh-day Adventist I have never seen our church gain such good media coverage,” says Marek Rakowski, the Secretary of the Adventist Church in Poland.
That visibility increased as the church presented DVD’s as a special gift to many public figures including the Catholic Primate of Poland, Archbishop Wojciech Polak; as well as the President of Poland, Andrzej Duda.
The entire missionary project was also an excellent opportunity to promote Hope Channel Poland, which was officially recognized as a legal media entity last year within the government register of broadcasters. See www.hopechannel.pl.
A result of all this activity is that the Adventist church is now far better in known in Poland. While members rejoice in the ‘Best Foreign Film’ award for Hacksaw Ridge, they rejoice even more in the knowledge that people like Natalia have seen their lives changed through the faithful witness of one conscientious Adventist, 75 years ago.
There are 5,820 Seventh-day Adventists living in Poland, a predominantly Catholic country that has a population of 38.5 million. [tedNEWS]
See also: Desmond Doss still saving lives in Europe.