Dear Friend in Christ,
This is not a letter about COVID-19! Rather, I want to lift your spirits, to encourage you.
Just before the pandemic began, a young Cru® staff member, Bonnie, was on a university campus in a prominent Asian nation. She was walking with her translator, the 15-year-old daughter of a national staff member. The daughter spoke the national language.
“We were out sharing our faith, using the Jesus Film Project short films. The Holy Spirit led us to two students hanging out by a lake. I said, ‘Hello, would you like to watch a short film on our phone?’ One of them was interested, the other seemed arrogant but agreed.”
Bonnie pulled out her phone and started the short film, Legion. It’s an engaging animation of when Jesus cast out the legion of demons. The soundtrack is from JESUS, containing the Word of God. Bonnie says that Legion resonates with people from Buddhist cultures. They are already aware of spirits and sense their presence.
“After the students watched, my 15-year-old translator tried to share her faith but turned to me discouraged, saying, ‘They are Buddhist. They don’t believe in Jesus, and they think we shouldn’t believe in Him either.’
“In a moment, the Holy Spirit swept over me. I got really bold. ‘Have either of you seen a miracle?’ They shook their heads, ‘No.’ So, I told them about my miracle, when God literally healed my arm. I had badly broken my elbow in a bicycle accident. Even after surgery, with screws and plates, my arm was permanently distorted. It looked 3 inches shorter than the other. Before several friends, God restored my arm. We all saw it happen! It was normal again!
“Now one of them was intrigued. He took off his shoe and sock and showed me an ugly scar on his ankle. He had been in a motorcycle accident and walked with a strong limp. I have a nursing background, so I asked him his pain level, from 1 to 10. He said it was very painful, a 9!
“‘So, may we pray for God to heal you too?’ They both laughed. The arrogant student just scoffed. I argued, ‘But what do you have to lose?’ They agreed. As we prayed, the injured student began moving his ankle about, something he could hardly do before! The scoffing student’s eyes got big as his friend started walking, bouncing along the sidewalk, healed. They were both dumbfounded, stunned and amazed!
“Though still unbelieving, the now-healed student wanted to know more. We got his contact information and referred him to the campus ministry. [They are using texting, emailing, phone, conferencing and Jesus Film® media to share the gospel during the pandemic.] He and I also became friends on Facebook® and he has verified he’s fully healed, no pain! I sent him a link to the Jesus Film Project app, urging him to watch JESUS, the Son of God who healed him. Being Buddhist, it may take a few viewings and internet exchanges, but I’m expecting he will believe.
“And it all started with showing a short film and God answering prayer. I use the films, the app, all the time, along with prayer. They are really effective together.”
Then there is Nora. She lives in a resistant nation on the Arabian gulf. Thirsting for love and peace in her culture, she found none. Nora became desperate and attempted suicide. She failed and then began searching the internet for answers and hope (something thousands more are doing now that they are sequestered at home).
Nora began a months-long, digital interaction with Miriam, a discipler who uses the Jesus Film Project internet system and secure platforms like WhatsApp® for follow up. Miriam answered her many questions. Nora believed, replying, “I love Jesus so much!”
Miriam then showed Nora how to watch JESUS over the internet. At first, she requested that Miriam ship her a Bible, but it would be too dangerous. So, she engaged in a four-part discipleship series, again over the internet. The series included training in how to share your faith with others.
After two months, Nora’s brother received Christ. By the end of the year Nora had explained the gospel to eight others, most of whom also believed. They have since started two discipleship groups, and these members are sharing their faith with others. Recently, Miriam received a text from Nora, “I received an unmarked box in the mail. Inside was a Bible! Thank you!”
WhatsApp, the internet, and the Jesus Film Project® app are just some of the ways the gospel is being shared safely and effectively during this most unusual period of history. Staff and volunteers are reminded often to use these tools and given ways to stay safe from the virus. With so many people remaining home, digital methods are leading thousands to Christ!
Then there are television and radio broadcasts of JESUS and follow-up series like Walking With Jesus. A man in Ghana, West Africa, named Yaw, followed the series on TV in his home and said:
“Before watching the Walking With Jesus movie, I drank alcohol heavily. But after watching the series and praying to invite Christ into my life, one of the counselors got in touch with me, prayed for me and started taking me through some lessons on WhatsApp. I felt the urge to pray and read the Bible. And now, the desire to drink alcohol has ceased. I read my Bible twice and pray more than twice a day. My wife cannot believe what has happened as she is a witness to the change in my life now. I thank God for the TV station showing the movie.”
There was so much response during those broadcasts in Ghana that 25 counselors were online, often around the clock, digitally responding to seekers. They were using WhatsApp and other internet tools to answer the many questions. The Ghana team even partnered with an Ethiopian staff member who is a software engineer to develop a system so they could quickly follow up the many seekers. Of the 3,567 people engaged via the internet, 1,427 came to faith!
Speaking of television and internet broadcasting and discipleship, a staff leader in Albania wrote: “How good and wonderful our God is! When He led us to break through the digital world last Easter and this past Christmas, we had no idea of what was going to happen, and that now our mission field has totally moved online. He has prepared us; He has equipped us for such a time as this.”
One more tool! NewLifeBoxes are battery powered and fit in a pocket. They set up a cell phone hot spot literally anywhere, reaching once-unreachable people with the gospel, virus or not. A worker turns on a NewLifebox and every phone within a 150-feet range lights up with a message, “Would you like to watch a film about Jesus?” Each unit allows 15 people at a time to experience or download JESUS on their cell phones, in their heart language. And many do, especially in closed nations.
The newer version of the NewLifeBoxes can hold 140 films, an incredible resource! Even where people are socially distanced, because of the Wi-Fi range, they can still learn what God has done for them in their heart language. For all these tools, these gifts of technology from God, I give thanks. Through them and your partnership, people who have never heard are meeting Jesus! May I once again ask for your gracious partnership? Here are some examples of what your giving can do:
- $126 Will live stream “JESUS” to up to 3,600 people online
- $500 Will broadcast “JESUS” via television and radio to up to 117,000 people
- $420 Will live stream “JESUS” to up to 12,000 people online
- $220 Will equip one evangelist with a NewLifeBox
- $1,100 Will equip five evangelists with a NewLifeBox
In closing, the Apostle Paul wrote to his disciple, Timothy, “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:3-4, New International Version). I believe it is good and pleasing to our God and Savior that we use the tools He has provided, even during these restricted times, to help reach everyone, everywhere.
Thank you for however you feel led to have a part. You are much appreciated.
Until everyone sees Jesus,
Jesus Film Project®
PS. As you consider what God may be leading you to do, I ask for your intercession for thousands of film team members, volunteers and partner ministries, and disciplers who are using these tools during the pandemic. Please pray for their safety. Do battle for them in the spiritual realm, so that they will stay safe and effectively use these tools you send to reach tens of thousands with the good news. To donate today, please click the “give a gift” button. If you would prefer to donate by phone, please call us toll-free at 1-800-918-9929.