The life of a young Mozambique man was so out of control that his family disowned him.
Then one day he came across a showing of a film based on the Gospel of Luke. As he watched, he felt the love of Jesus overwhelm him, and he repented of his drinking and debauchery. He told a ministry worker, “I will leave the evil things and join the church.”
And he did.
Another man, a Pakistani immigrant to America, encountered the Christian message of salvation at a showing of the film dubbed in his native Urdu language.
He had so many questions he asked ministry volunteers for a Bible, and when they returned a week later, he showed them a notepad with “millions” of questions.
He told them he had been searching for the truth, but no one in his country had told him about Jesus.
According to a letter from the group Christ for All Peoples, “The truth had found him.”
One story is from Africa, another from the United States.
But what they have in common is the media, “The Jesus Film,” a ministry now in its 35th year.
The Jesus Film Project says that since the film debuted in 1979, it has been translated into about 1,200 languages with a viewership of more than 6 billion.
Barry Fiess, spokesman for the Jesus Film Project, said a church-planting ministry sponsored by the Jesus Film Project has recorded more than 57,000 conversions and launched 4,823 churches or small groups as a result of showing the film more 1.2 million times in one year.
Christ for All Peoples is one of the many ministries that has used the film for outreach. Its president, Phil Cohn, told WND in an interview that “The Jesus Film” is an effective way to do outreach because it overcomes language barriers.
“How many people carry parallel Bibles with them that have dozens of languages in them? It’s too difficult to do that. It’s going to be easier to share the Gospel with someone if they’re going to watch a movie,” Cohn said.
Cohn’s work focuses on unreached populations overseas, but his ministry also reaches out to the many immigrant communities in the United States.
“Tens of millions of immigrants have come to America, and they speak another language when they go home at night,” Cohn said.
New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Dallas, Miami and other metropolitan areas all have sizable communities that speak a language other than English at home.
“They come from more than 500 different language groups. Many of them have moved to America from non-Christian cultures and non-Christian backgrounds,” he said.
“The vast majority of those coming from these non-Christian countries don’t know who Jesus is and don’t know the Gospel. Some of them are Hindus, Muslims or Buddhists,” Cohn said. “This is why ‘The Jesus Film’ makes such a big difference.”
The movie is a depiction of Christ’s birth, ministry, death and resurrection. The script is taken directly from the Gospel of Luke. The film was reviewed by 450 leaders and scholars for biblical and cultural accuracy.
It has been recognized officially by the Guinness Book of World Records as “the most-translated film in history.” There are estimates that more than 200 million individuals have declared a decision to follow Jesus Christ after viewing the presentation.
Cohn also says a Japanese woman in a West Coast city picked up a copy of the film.
“She took home the film to her elderly mother. Her elderly mother didn’t really speak English. So she watched the film in Japanese, and she received Christ. After receiving Christ, she joined a local Japanese church in her city and attended for three or four months before she passed away,” Cohn said.
He said he started the ministry seven years ago and immediately targeted immigrant neighborhoods across America.
“We shared the videos in the different languages as they went out in Christmas and Easter outreaches and the various ethnic festivals. Tens of thousands of ‘Jesus’ films were distributed,” he said.
“Among the various immigrant groups, people began coming to Christ. Some even said they had dreams before or after seeing the film. God is using this to bring so many people to Christ. It’s just an amazing story,” Cohn said.
Cohn said that when most Americans see the movie, they don’t break down and weep. That’s not the case with many from non-Western cultures.
“Some of these people see the film, and they’re seeing the Gospel for the first time. They watch the movie, and they see this holy man, this Jesus, and they hear His holy words.
“They see Him perform miracles and even raise people from the dead. This good man is attacked by the religious people, beaten, mocked and crucified,” Cohn said.
He said the experience is similar in showing of the film.
“It’s a consistent pattern. They’re not aware of the story, and they weep for Jesus. Then when they realize that He died for their sins, it’s a staggering thought for them. That God would send His Son to be like us and take our sins and have them nailed to the cross is so different.
“So they cry, and they believe in Jesus. Many people from many countries are believing in Jesus through ‘The Jesus Film,'” Cohn said.
See the trailer: