Best known for his roles as Gimli the dwarf in The Lord of the Rings trilogy and Sallah in the Indiana Jones franchise, John Rhys-Davies has also starred in a variety of television and theater roles. He recently played Eusi, a Jewish rabbi in the film Return to the Hiding Place, which portrays the story of Corrie ten Boom and her family. They were part of a resistance group of Dutch Christians who smuggled Jews to safety. Risen interviewed him in 2015.
Rhys Davies opens up about his personal spiritual background.
“These are the things I believe – equality, decency, compassion, and the right of all people to think privately what they believe. I come from a background that includes Africa and the Africa of my childhood was beautiful and splendid and dangerous. I’ve seen men who have killed. I’ve seen men hacked to pieces. My father was patrolling when one of the first genocides was taking place in Rwanda. We picked up a Tutsi who had both arms cut off and both legs cut off. He had crawled across the border. When you have seen horror like that, there is a little bit of your soul that hollows. Do I believe that the sacrifice of one person for the greater good is better than not? No, sometimes you must protect the one person for the greater good. It’s a question of judgment. If you have a frame of reference as Christians, making those calls may be more consistent. “Lord, what must I do to gain eternal life?” Give up all. It is not easy. For some of us, it is impossible. I suppose that is one reason why I will certainly not be of the elect. In round terms, we must now get the courage to stand up and think out of the box. Where there are failed states, we have got to find a way of intervening. Now that sounds like imperial inclusion. I’m of the opinion that if you save lives to save the lives of children, then if it takes imperial intrusion, then do it. But I will equally say, if you can come up with an alternative, I’m ready to listen.
One of the great disappointments of my life is that our world has become a dirtier, nastier and shabbier place. In the 60s we laughed at censorship and pornography. We were naïve enough to believe that if we abolished censorship that everyone would go out and buy pornography that people would read it and be done with it. We didn’t realize, because we weren’t prepared to listen from the previous generations that said pornography is dangerous. We thought that we knew better and we didn’t understand that pornography is as addictive as heroin. And what we have now is systemic child abuse. The men I grew up with would throw themselves under a truck to save the life of a child.
How do you define what a grown up is? A grown up is someone who protects the lives of the young, old and the innocent. How do you know when you are a grownup? [It’s] when you understand that bullying is wrong and you don’t do it and protect others. The exploitation of children is, I have to use religious words because that is the only way to explain it, an abomination before the Lord. I’m really not interested in the psychological reasoning of why you feel it necessary to violate a child. It is monstrous that we allow a portion of our society to violate and harm children. We have lost our way as a society. If there is a God, I would say he would encourage moral debate. There’s a Proverb that says, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.” [Proverbs 25:2] I think that’s the right dance between man and God, to ask questions and to pursue answers even if you come to a dead end, as long as you are not harming people along the way. Some people would say not to inquire.”
Determine what you believe. What we believe in is the foundation for who we are and the actions that we take. If we do not know or are unsure of what we believe, it can cause confusion when important decisions need to be made. If there are aspects of the faith that you have questions about or are unsure of, take time to ask a pastor, small group leader or mentor to help you find the answers. Remember that one person might not have all the answers. Evidence That Demands a Verdict and Case for Christ are just two of the many great resources that can help you with some of the tougher questions of the faith. Both were written by atheists that would later become Christians.
Pray for a friend or family member. There are people in our lives that do not know Christ and God wants us to be praying for them. Pray that their hearts would soften and be open to the Gospel. Pray for opportunities to share Christ’s love with them and see if there are questions that they have that you can help answer.
Pray for the persecuted. There are believers all over the world that are being persecuted and killed for their faith. Commit to praying for them daily this week. Pray for their safety and that God would give them wisdom with any decision they need to make. Ask God to open the doors for them to make connections with leaders and to provide for all of their needs to do ministry. Pray that God would soften the hearts of those that they work with to be open to the Gospel.
To read our entire interview with John Rhys-Davies, click here.