Dear Friend of Jesus Film Project,
Radical … amazing … eternal transformation … for all who believe and receive!
This is the power of the gospel—when people at last can understand His Word, as they watch and hear the film JESUS. May He be glorified!
This is Binora, son of a powerful witch doctor in rural Ethiopia. His father had 21 wives and 61 children. Binora was the firstborn.
“My father was possessed by seven evil spirits. As a boy, I watched him cut his body with a knife … no blood, no wound. He would play with deadly snakes … no bites, no harm … or stand in a fire ... no burns, no pain. He was truly powerful and commanded the spirits, causing great harm and death. He was feared by all, including me. And I was his heir-designate. At his death, I was to receive into my body the seven evil spirits. I would become the next witch doctor.”*
But God had another plan. When Binora was 15 years old, an evangelist went to their village. Binora and five others went out to kill him. But as they approached the evangelist, something powerful stopped the teenager. For the night before he had a powerful dream of a man in white. Now he couldn’t move. He just stood there, shaking, frozen. The evangelist urged Binora, “Just accept Jesus.” Binora did and was radically transformed.
The son, “the heir-apparent witch doctor”, had betrayed his father and calling. He feared for his life and fled. In time Binora managed to immigrate to Canada where he sought asylum. During those 20 years in Canada, he grew in his faith. But then he could not rest. Binora became sorely burdened for his father’s eternal destiny and that of his people. They needed to be rescued from their spiritual darkness.
So, compelled by love, and at great risk to himself, Binora flew back to Ethiopia, returning to his home village. He was appalled by what he found. Their poverty seemed even worse than when he left. His father was now the chief witch doctor of the entire area, even more powerful. Binora’s life was clearly in danger. For if he tried to share the gospel, his father might silence Binora and then kill him on the spot.
He needed a way to penetrate the spiritual darkness and tell his father and the village the good news. Binora had heard of the film JESUS. So he borrowed a 16mm copy, projector, speakers, generator and screen from the Jesus Film Project® office in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia.
But there was a big problem. The film was in the national language. Only one in five of his village understood Amharic, and then only at a very rudimentary level. As Binora described it, “Amharic was as remote from them as their village was from the capital.” But they had to understand what Jesus had done. So, starting with his own village, Binora showed JESUS, and then showed it again in six more villages. As JESUS played, Binora and a co-worker took the microphone and interpreted as best they could, translating from Amharic into their mother tongue, Gewada. Yet, he felt the job they did was clumsy and that much was lost in the translation.
Nevertheless, many responded, including—of all people— his father, the powerful witch doctor! The photo to the right is remarkable (taken from an old VHS tape). It’s Binora’s father, being baptized after the initial showing. He was the first one to go into the water. As he emerged, he raised his hands and publicly declared, “Listen, today I tell the devil I’m not going to serve him anymore. Today I am a child and servant of the Lord Jesus Christ who died for me! And now I’m resurrected to new life!”
Through Binora’s live translation and witness, and subsequent showings, seven churches were established. Those churches have since multiplied to become 40 churches with 12,000 believers! What an incredible transformation, from darkness to light. Like the famous song of Sandy Patti: “Shine down Your light on me. Let the people see that in Your presence darkness flees. Father of light shine down on me.”
If such a life transformation can emerge from a “clumsy translation” of JESUS, how much more can happen when people understand the film in their mother tongue?!
That’s why I’m writing. The film JESUS was recently translated and premiered in Binora’s village, in the Gewada language. News spread like a fresh wind from Heaven.
A pastor said: “When word got around that the JESUS film will be translated in our language, we just couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t contain my joy. I was crying literally. I didn’t know what to think. The joy of the people was beyond measure.”
A woman said, “It will be in our language. Those who don’t speak Amharic will understand the message better. I’m so thankful and I’m so excited. I can’t contain my joy.”
Here, the entire village is gathering for the premier of JESUS in the Gewada tongue. Binora was there (lower right) and with unstoppable joy, he exclaimed: “Today, the film has come to the people in their own language. I’m celebrating JESUS in the Gewada language. It’s all I do!” And then came the response of the people:
“I’m so happy. I’ve never seen something like this in my entire life!”
“This film has come to us. I don’t think our village will be the same again!”
“I can feel Jesus in our village.”
“How can I forget … I will keep it in my heart … I will go tell others who have not heard … I can’t be quiet!”
As you are reading my letter, this new translation of JESUS is going to other Gewada-speaking villages. This is what happens when people can at last fully understand the Word of God—the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ—in the language of their hearts. Let the darkness flee!
So today I come with a wonderful but urgent request. Thousands of people groups still need to understand JESUS. So far more than 4,000 unreached language groups have been identified. The vast majority of these languages have not been studied at all. For these more challenging tongues and dialects, a new script-translation strategy has been developed that utilizes sophisticated software and translation workshops that focus on related language groups.
Through this strategy, the time to produce a new script of JESUS has been reduced from years to just weeks! This is a tremendous breakthrough. It means that many more people can be reached that much sooner.
The script. That’s the key … the first essential step. Once complete, a technical team can be dispatched to record the local voices. In months a new translation of JESUS can be released to waiting film teams, greatly accelerating the spread of the gospel.
The cost to produce a new script of JESUS for a written language is $7,500. That amount is beyond most of us. But “the many” working together “as one” can do it—a team effort for the highest of goals, to enable people to understand the gospel.
So, may I invite your gracious partnership to empower an unreached people group to experience JESUS in their heart language by sending a gift of $150, $250, $500, or $1,000? By uniting with other friends of JESUS, you can work together and deliver a new script in just weeks.
Should you have ample financial resources, would you join with three other partners receiving my letter, each giving $1,875? Together you will overcome the greatest and first barrier, producing the script for an unreached language group. You could be half of a team (two donors), multiplying your impact as one—each giving $3,750. Perhaps you are in a position to cover the entire cost with a gift of $7,500, or possibly you may be moved to cover the cost of two scripts for a gift of $15,000.
Creating scripts of JESUS is so important that several generous donors have formed their own team. They have issued a challenge gift. Whatever you can send, your gift will be combined with theirs, effectively doubling yours. So if you can give $150, their gift of $150 will be added to yours. If you can give $3,750, their gift of $3,750 will come alongside yours and together you will be creating the entire script of JESUS for an unreached people group.
Remember, the script—this is the first and most essential step. You can be the one to open the door so a people group can receive JESUS in their heart language. The next Binora and Gewada people miracle, could be the one which you help write, effectively matched … doubled by these partners!
I hope I have conveyed people’s joy when they can at last see and, most importantly, understand JESUS, when the Lord speaks to their souls—the very Word of the Living God. I invite you to seek His mind and heart. As He leads, help them understand. The people you reach will be grateful … forever. Thank you so much.
Until everyone sees Jesus,
Jesus Film Project®
P.S. To date JESUS has been translated into more than 1,690 languages, a remarkable achievement made possible by the obedience of God’s people. And remember, your gift for new scripts can be effectively matched (doubled) by the challenge grant. With you, we will keep translating, producing, and working with many partners until every needed language is complete, so everyone, everywhere, can at last see and understand JESUS. If possible, send your gift by November 30, 2018. You can give safely on this page. Or, you can give via credit card by calling (800) 387-4040. Also consider transfers of stocks, securities, real property, or IRAs. For these giving opportunities, please visit: www.jesusfilm.org/planned-giving. Thank You.
* It’s understandable that many people in our “civilized” world doubt such accounts. Yet, ask any missionary who has worked in these areas. They will tell you it’s very real. Where Satan rules unopposed, possession and powerful witchcraft hang over all like a dark cloud, keeping people in great fear from the cross and the love of God.