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Battling unbelief

Justin Bruening with his Indivisible cast family. (Calvary/GraceWorks)

Movie

Battling unbelief

Indivisible showcases the ministry of military chaplains and their wives

Picture a war-movie hero, and who comes to mind? Rambo with an M16, or a reverend with an M. Div.? In Indivisible, a military chaplain gets to be the hero.

The new film from Pure Flix Entertainment is based on a true story, but it isn’t a typical war movie. The battles that Army chaplain Darren Turner (Justin Bruening) and his wife Heather (Sarah Drew) fight are to save marriages and souls. And throughout the entire film no soldier ever swears like a sailor. (There’s no sexual content, either.)

One on the battlefield and one back home in Georgia, the Turners minister to military families separated by deployment. But they also struggle to save their own marriage during Darren’s 15-month tour (2007-2008) in Iraq. Director David G. Evans spotlights the emotionally draining mission field that—in Heather’s words—chaplains and their wives are “called to.” 

Darren agrees with his wife. “I signed up to be where the need is,” he says.

The Turners comfort and counsel soldiers and their families, who live every day with the fear and uncertainty that insurgents’ sneak attacks and hidden IEDs bring. A few scenes of relatively mild war violence give Indivisible its PG-13 rating, but a plot heavy on religion and relationships might not keep some viewers on the edge of their seats. An excessive number of telephone conversations—obviously a lifeline for military spouses on opposite ends of the globe—bogs the film down. On the other hand, it’s hard to keep up with the character development: Several characters transition abruptly through emotional stages and theological beliefs.

Two characters bring refreshing authenticity to the story, though. Sgt. Shonda Peterson (Skye P. Marshall) serves as Darren’s assistant in Iraq. Tough and organized, she keeps Darren out of trouble in the field and at the office. But she also wrestles with deep feelings of inadequacy as a single mother of a 3-year-old boy. And Lance Bradley (Tanner Stine), a soldier in Darren’s unit, doesn’t buy what the chaplain is “peddling.” He asks tough questions. When a young Iraqi girl dies during a bombing, Lance needles Darren.

“You got a Bible verse for that?” Lance demands. Darren says he doesn’t.

Death claims members of Darren’s unit, and a soldier loses a leg. Darren preaches to his comrades on spiritual weapons, but he’s showing signs of PTSD. Heather comes alongside grieving spouses. But she’s raising three young children on her own, and feels even more isolated as Darren can’t talk about the horrors he witnesses.

Although the film follows a predictable trajectory, we should salute Evans for drawing attention to all-but-forgotten members of the military team—as well as to their wives who hold families and communities together back home.