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DVD Review - The John Bunyan Story

The Torchlighters video series is a series of animated DVD’s dedicated to “Highlighting the honor, integrity and life-changing experiences of those well-known and little-known Christian men, women and children who in response to God’s call, dedicated their lives to a life of whole-hearted commitment and passionate service to Jesus.” It is a production of Christian History Institute along with International Films and Voice of the Martyrs. The first in this series was The Jim Elliot Story (my review) and this was followed by The William Tyndale Story (my review).

The third installment of the series is The John Bunyan Story and it traces the life of this great servant of the Lord who is best know, of course, for writing The Pilgrim’s Progress. “John Bunyan’s life was filled with challenges and victories. No matter what his circumstances, this ‘torchlighter’ followed God to the fullest. Like the main character in his book, Bunyan used all his gifts and resources to press on through thick and thin. His message still rings true today.” The film focuses on Bunyan’s youth, presenting him as a naughty, sinful child, and then fast forwards to his arrest and imprisonment during which he wrote The Pilgrim’s Progress.

The series is targeted primarily at children between the ages of eight and twelve. While this film has a few scary moments, it is somewhat less intense than the previous two films where the main characters were actually killed. There is nothing too graphic in this episode beyond an encounter between Apollyon and Christian in a brief animated excerpt from Bunyan’s greatest book. My children, having seen the first two installments in the series, were convinced that Bunyan would die and were grateful that he lived to a good age and died a natural death.

Included with the film is a study guide suitable for children that includes a leader’s guide and reproducible student worksheets. There is also a 40-minute documentary on Bunyan’s life that is suitable for both children or adults (though it is intended primarily for adults). A John Bunyan board game is available for free at the Torchlighters web site. These add significant value to what is already a strong presentation. They will encourage your children to become Torchlighters: “One who commits to serving God and passing on the light of the Gospel, even when the going gets tough…”

We watched this film as a family and enjoyed it together. It is well worth watching and discussing together. We are looking forward to the fourth episode, due next year, which will focus on one of my heroes, Eric Liddell.

To learn more about the series, visit the Torchlighters site. You can view trailers for the series or the individual films here. And finally, the video can be purchased from Vision Video.