Posted on March 20, 2018
As normal as popcorn and a movie
Men and women fill the chairs, the lights are dimmed. The delicious aroma of hot, buttered popcorn fills the air as people sip root beer floats and wait for the movie to begin. This isn’t another night out at the local multiplex. This is Movie Night at NightShift, where most of the crowd is homeless, and hungry for a chance to get away from the struggles of life outside.
Once a month, on a Wednesday night after NightShift’s meal outreach in Surrey, people living on the street are invited inside the NightShift building to sit down, relax and enjoy an inspirational movie.
“Most of the people who come are from outside,” says NightShift volunteer and one of Movie Night’s founders, Greg Kotlowski. “We show the movie right after the outreach meal. It’s dinner and a movie.”
Greg says a big draw to Movie Night is a sense of normalcy – going out to the movies is something that many of us do without a second thought. “People on the street never seem to have anything that’s normal. But when we sit down and break food together and watch a movie, it brings back memories for people of before they were on the street.”
Movie Night developed last year, out of the Bible Studies Greg and his friend, Herb Larsen, were leading every Wednesday night for friends on the street. Realizing that some of the study topics could be a little too deep, they began to rethink how they could reach people with biblical messages. Movie Night was the answer.
“We wanted to engage people and movies are a very easy way to do that. Come on in, eat some treats and watch a movie,” shares Greg, who has been serving with NightShift since the ministry began in 2004. “There is also camaraderie. We want to build relationships with people. We get to meet with people and talk with them, so it works out pretty good.”
NightShift Movie Night has been a huge success, and a welcome respite from the struggles of homelessness. When “War Room”, a film about the power of prayer in the midst of relational breakdown and human failing, was featured a few months ago, almost 40 men and women from the streets crowded into NightShift’s education room. “They were really engaged the whole time, and some women were even crying,” Greg says.
A little bit of cinema therapy
The value in Movie Night goes deeper than offering just a few hours away from it all. It’s also about introducing the power of hope into the lives of people on the street. In fact, some doctors and therapists recognize that movies can be a vehicle to help people to deal with the ups and downs of life. “Cinema Therapy” was coined by American doctor Gary Solomon, author of The Motion Picture Prescription and Reel Therapy. He says movies can be used for therapeutic purposes for people facing big life challenges.
The challenges of NightShift’s street friends are big indeed – addiction, broken families, abuse, poverty and homelessness to name a few. Movie Night introduces life-changing themes of redemption, faithfulness, hope and forgiveness.
“It’s all about exposing God to people. Especially people who live a hopeless life,” shares Greg. “I just show up, but the credit is all God’s.”
NightShift Movie Night is the second Wednesday of the month, with Bible Study every Wednesday night in between.