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Slumdog Millionaire

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Redemption in the slums

Directed by Danny Boyle and Loveleen Tandan

We didn’t know much about the movie Slumdog Millionaire, except that it was critically acclaimed and about a kid from the slums of Mumbai. As we stepped out of the theatre into the dark of another Delhi evening, we were reminded that the world on the screen was not far from the reality in which we presently live: India, in all its glory and shame.

With its graphic portrayal of abuse in the lives of several children from the slum, the gripping movie drew us through the familiar story of redemption. Every day, we look into the eyes of kids like those. One young man we know grew up in a slum nearby, but through his own motivation, the help of others, and the grace of God, has experienced radical changes in his life. Though stories like his won’t make the silver screen, his story is an inspiration.

Slumdog Millionaire deals with themes that touch our hearts. At the core of the story is Jamal’s stubborn love for fellow slum dweller Latika, his refusal to forget her, and his plan to be reunited with her. In the end, he not only saves her but wins millions. Sure, it’s a movie, but it’s hard not to cheer.

Everyone wants to be loved as Latika was loved by Jamal. (Everyone wants to win a million too, but the need for love is greater.) The TV game show is a vehicle to get her back – Jamal’s prize is Latika herself; the money is merely a bonus.

I couldn’t help but think afterwards, that Jamal’s love for Latika is not unlike God’s love for us. We are, like Latika, in bondage, and the coming of Jesus is God’s plan of salvation. God’s love for humankind is unconditional and undying. Just as Jamal could not forget Latika, God cannot forget us. Just as Jamal did what it took to win her back, God has done that for us in Jesus Christ. Just as Jamal pursued Latika, God pursues us, convincing us about his love.

Despite our gravest sins and blatant shortcomings, we’re saved by grace, loved, and blessed. Like “wretch” John Newton in “Amazing Grace,” we gladly use derogatory terms for ourselves to emphasize the depth of God’s love and the extent of the blessings we’ve received from him. In that way, we could say that we’re not only “slumdogs” before God, but in Christ, we’re slumdog millionaires!

—Mark Klassen lives and works in New Delhi, India.

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