By Rev. Andrew J. Bales, President of the Union Rescue Mission
How often does a big time Hollywood Movie premiere on Skid Row? Never in anyone’s memory, until last night! It started out as a wild idea to shut down one of the toughest streets in America and show the movie, Sicko, to some of the folks who were featured in the movie, but would not likely have an opportunity to walk a red carpet or even see this powerful film in theaters, and huge-hearted filmmaker Michael Moore made it all happen just outside the back doors of Union Rescue Mission.
We closed the streets down at 4:00 P.M.; men began building a platform and back drop for a 37 foot Screen. It was a bit windy so our Mission staff weaved together several tarps as a wind break. 600 chairs were set up in a theater setting on the street, and a magnificent projector and deck were brought in by the Weinstein Company, and what seemed impossible happened.
San Julian St. became a walk-in theater! Michael Moore personally came to salute these folks who live a tough life on the streets. I introduced Michael as a man who shared with the House Judiciary Committee that his motivation for making this film about healthcare came word for word from the book of Matthew, chapter 25. Matthew 25:31-46 (ESV):
34 Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.'
37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?
38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?
39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?'
40 And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'
The crowd went wild with enthusiasm that Michael Moore himself came to greet them and share words of wisdom with them. I thanked Michael later -- just before he rushed off for another event -- telling him that he had brought a night of joy to folks that really live in what only can be described as “hell” on earth. More than that, he affirmed them and their dignity as people of great importance. Throughout the movie I heard their hearty amen’s to the injustice that they have experienced first hand in America. Folks have been thanking me for acting as a host throughout the day.
Thank you, Michael, for making this once-in-a-lifetime event possible! Thank you, most of all, for speaking up for justice for folks who until now, have not had a voice.