3 Stars – Compassionate
True stories make some of the best cinema, as seen in this biography of Christina Nobel. Appropriately named for the life she depicted, we walk with this woman through a devastating childhood that prepared her for an exemplary ministry showing compassion for children like herself. The only difference is that she lived on the streets of Ireland and the children she is called to serve live in Vietnam. Directed and written by Stephen Bradley and staring Dierdre O’Kane in the tile role, the film is moving without the sentimentalism often found in such biographies.
The account begins when Christina (played by Gloria Cramer Curtis as a child) is the oldest of six children in a home with an alcoholic family. Having discovered that music sooths the drunken rampage of her father, Christina dreams of one day being a professional musician. But at the age of ten her mother dies and her father neglects her and her siblings, Christina tries to provide for them by begging and scavenging on the streets, but the authorities soon discover their distress and they are taken from their father. Purposefully separated into different institutions, Christian ends up in an orphanage run by nuns. But what is fascinating is that though Christina is a Christian and has a real relationship with Jesus, she knows the nuns do not represent him. It is this natural spiritual wisdom that guides not only her life, but the true purpose for her existence.
Asking God to make sense out of the sorrows and disappointments of her life, as a young adult she is given a dream to one day go to Saigon to care for the children of the street just as she had been. This is the story of her accomplishing that God-given dream.
The lessons of the film are many and her life is in fact a noble expression of natural Christian wisdom and love. Christina discovers that God does not waste her pain. Instead he uses her experiences to provoke empathy and provide wisdom in helping the children who have found themselves abandoned by family and society.
Christina discovers that life is seldom without sorrow but God is with us in the sorrow. This is expressed directly when Christina is raped, becomes pregnant and the nuns take her son and give him to others to raise. Overwhelmed with grief she goes to the chapel to speak with God explaining that God is the only one who understands because he also lost his son.
The victories that Christina experienced do not spoil the tale but rather make the experience of her journey all the more moving. Beginning foundations in both Vietnam and Mongolia the Christina Noble Foundation continues to bring wholeness into the broken lives of children. That is truly a noble, Christian endeavor.
- What pain have you experienced that God is or could be using to bring His healing into this world? What are you doing or going to do with what you’ve experienced?
- The embarrassment of the Vietnam government about their street children is echoed in the various cities of our world. How do you think this embarrassment and subsequent cover-up keeps us from doing something decisive about the children who live on the streets? What can you do for the homeless children of our world?