Starting with One

JESUS Film God Christianity Vasil*, a Bulgarian Christian, knew it would take a loving work of God to transform the lives of people living in a distant village—many of whom were Turkish speaking Gypsies. Although from a Muslim background, Vasil committed his life to Christ and his spiritual passion grew rapidly. He attended a conference about leading people to faith in Christ and establishing the new believers in churches that would then reach out and plant other churches.

In 2013, Vasil and three other volunteers working with JESUS Film first showed Magdalena in Turkish to about 100 people in this one remote village. Next, a local family opened their home for those who wanted to meet and learn more about the God of the Bible. Soon about 30 villagers were attending this home church, many of them now devoted to Jesus.

One of the families asked for Vasil and his team to help start another church nearer their home. Again the team showed Magdalena, and an interested group of people began to meet as a new church, led by one of the team members. Numerous baptisms followed.

Because of Vasil’s initial tenacity to believe God was leading him to take the gospel to one specific village, he and his team helped establish seven churches in the community, with plans to eventually minister to the entire region.

Since 2010, the JESUS Film staff and about 250 volunteers have used the ministry’s evangelistic films and discipleship tools to plant 127 new churches throughout this region of Southeast Europe.

*Name changed for security purposes

JESUS in Iran

06-02Aafiya* cringed at the brutal murder unfolding before her eyes. Tears of sympathy escaped as she watched the stranger on television breathe his last. Instantly, Aafiya felt a hand on her shoulder. Not just a light tap, but a calming pressure. Too scared to turn around, Aafiya immediately sensed the presence of Jesus—the man on TV. Somehow this Son of God no longer felt like a stranger.

Aafiya was watching the JESUS film in her heart language, Farsi, via Mohabat TV, the satellite station—named after the Persian word for God’s agape love—that  broadcasts the gospel into North Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and the Arabian Peninsula. Mike Ansari, director of operations for Mohabat TV, recalled Aafiya’s comment to a call-in counselor after watching JESUS and inviting Christ to be her personal Savior: “Why can’t people see that Jesus died for all of us? I’ve got to go tell.”

“Go and tell” the gospel is at the heart of the mission of Mohabat TV and The JESUS Film Project®, who is adapting its Jesus Film Media™ mobile app into Farsi for the station and others ministering to Farsi speakers. Mohabat’s regular programming includes the broadcasts of JESUS, Magdalena and Rivka films.

“We’ve never seen anything like this. It’s going beyond politics, religion and cultural borders,” Ansari said. “… When we air the JESUS film, immediately there’s a connection, it is a supernatural connection.”

After moving to California from Iran, Ansari and other members of his Muslim family responded to the gospel through a JESUS film they received from a local church. Ansari’s mother had a dream about heaven and was told she’d receive an important white envelope containing something that would change her life. A few hours later while attending her first church service, Mrs. Ansari responded to the altar call and surprisingly received a white envelope. Inside? A Bible and a copy of JESUS.

Today people with no knowledge of Jesus Christ are coming to faith through means such as dreams and visions, websites, short films, social media, and mobile apps. Specifically the Jesus Film Media mobile app allows people to view and download JESUS—in more than 1,200 languages—as well as other evangelistic and discipleship films directly to their cellphones. Soon the Jesus Film Media technology team will release a new version of the app for viewing on tablets and iPads.

“Everybody is a global missionary now because of the Jesus Film Media app …. It’s super simple,” explained Mark Mayers, a JESUS Film® development regional manager. “… We are offering partners … everything we have on our digital platform, for free. It’s astoundingly exponential in terms of their ability to offer access to the gospel through their spheres of influence.”

The Jesus Film Media platform makes it easy to view and share the ministry’s more than 75,000 videos. The JESUS film itself is divided into 61 two-minute clips, perfect for a mobile ministry and engaging others in spiritual conversations. Nifer Sims, the mobile and web product manager of Jesus Film Media, sees more and more creativity from ministries and groups as they tap into the digital film library to “allow their apps and websites to wear the cultural clothes of the people they are reaching.”

In one area of the world that is extremely hostile to Christianity, a ministry leader recently stated that while large showings of JESUS are impossible, the use of  cellphones and tablets have “… made ministry now easy.”

Technology provides new and relevant ways to personally connect people with Christ as Savior—no matter where they live. Even if at first, He is merely a stranger on a TV, computer or cellphone screen.

 

*Name changed for security purposes.

It’s Just the Beginning

Lights - SquareWhile some predicted the world would end according to the Mayan calendar on December 21, 2012, no one could predict the enthusiastic response of the Mayan people to the gospel two months later. In February 2013, a team of JESUS Film® ministry partners from the United States traveled to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula for the premiere showing of Magdalena: Released From Shame in the Mayan language.

Hundreds of people including pastors, students, villagers, and others watched Magdalena. Many viewers prayed to receive Christ as Savior. The team also showed the Mayan version of The Story of Jesus for Children. In one village, nearly 260 people watched the film and some 250 of them indicated they accepted Christ. “We gave out DVDs to families so they can watch the story of Jesus over and over. They can then share it with their friends and family,” trip participant Leah Richardson explained.

Along with a local Mayan church team and two other ministries—Message for Mayans and Feet That Move—the Americans also went door-to-door to distribute 240 pairs of new Croc-style shoes and washed the feet of the leader of each household. The Message for Mayans and local churches will continue to use both films for evangelism and follow-up. Now for the more than 700 new Mayan believers, instead of the world ending, their new lives in Christ are just beginning.