I will confess that I started to get that all too familiar cringe as I began watching Luke Broersma's 49-minute documentary Divine Appointments, his latest effort supporting the work of CURE International, a "non-profit organization that operates charitable hospitals and programs in 26 countries worldwide where patients experience the life-changing message of God’s love for them, receiving surgical treatment regardless of gender, religion, or ethnicity" according to its website.
That "cringe" is one that is borne out of my own sense of privilege, a fact that I too often forget living in a country that is incredibly advanced yet where many of those advancements remain out of the reach of many who struggle when seeking affordable healthcare.
In all honesty, while I do have a high-deductible insurance plan I can't say that I truly "struggle."
It's not easy. I would never say that, especially being someone who does work full-time despite having spina bifida, a birth defect that is actually treated by CURE International through its CURE Neuro program based in Uganda. However, I would say that my struggles pale in comparison to those experienced by children in countries where healthcare is often unavailable and disabilities are often seen as punishment, demonic, or worthy of "mercy killing."
Indeed, I live in a country where mercy means something different entirely.
Similar in tone to Broersma's last film Modern-Day Miracles, Divine Appointments delves deeper in exploring the different worlds of CURE International. The film follows three specific patients from the CURE hospital in Kenya - Catherine, John, and Maryanne - all three of whom you will absolutely fall in love with during the course of the film.
While Divine Appointments primarily focuses its time on these three children, Broersma expands the film's vision by broadening its horizons alongside each story. As each child's challenge is brought forth, Divine Appointments shares just how CURE International is doing that very same work in locations around the globe.
Truly, it's amazing work.
Divine Appointments, because it delves deeper into CURE International, feels like less of a "marketing" film and more of an awareness and relational film. If you're new to CURE, you may find yourself with some questions. However, if you're already familiar with their work then this film will help you appreciate the organization even more. One of the unique aspects of CURE Kenya, for example, is that the hospital is run entirely by Kenyans - several of whom have been with the organization for quite some time. This helps to lend the stories a naturalism and authenticity that gives Divine Appointments a richer heart and warmer feeling.
As a film critic with multiple severe disabilities - including spina bifida, hydrocephalus, and formerly club foot (I'm now a double amputee without feet) - all of which are treated by CURE International for children in need, I can't help but find myself immersed in the world of CURE and immersed in these people who treat these children with love, respect, dignity, and tremendous care.
While I shall confess a slight preference for Modern-Day Miracles, both films left me greatly appreciative of the work of CURE International and of all who support their work internationally. Divine Appointments is getting set for its festival premiere at August's Great Lakes Christian Film Festival.
For more information on CURE International, visit the CURE International website.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic