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‘God’s Courtroom’ speaks eternal message globally

SHERMAN, Ill. (BP) — Bruce Kugler produced the film “God’s Courtroom” with the help of his church in Illinois. Now, the video presentation of the Gospel — set in some of the state’s most historic courtrooms — is available through more than 770 Family Video stores across the country. And a recent translation project aims to make it available to Arabic-speaking people around the world.

Kugler and members of Living Faith Baptist Church in Sherman, Ill., would have been hard-pressed to imagine these developments when they began production of God’s Courtroom a few years ago. Kugler, an attorney by trade, first had the idea in the late 1980s when he was trying cases before a northern Illinois judge known for his fairness and precision.

Outside Judge Alan Cargerman’s courtroom, Kugler remembered, “People were very nonchalant, pompous often.” When they stood before the judge, however, “Everything was very serious, somber, there was no messing around.”

The experience made Kugler wonder what it will be like when people one day stand before God, the ultimate judge. He began creating a presentation of the Gospel based on principles and terminology used in the legal system.

Kugler eventually gave the presentation in some central Illinois churches, and it was at a Dairy Queen after one of those messages that the idea emerged to film God’s Courtroom in a courthouse. Several courthouses, actually.

Over a period of months, Kugler and his team shot the film at historical sites in Illinois, including some courthouses where Abraham Lincoln practiced law, perhaps most notably one in Beardstown where the “Lincoln Courtroom” is the only courtroom in which the future U.S. president practiced law that remains in use today. In each segment of the one-hour film, Kugler gives some history of the site and also explains a different element of the Gospel.

“Bruce Kugler’s analysis of the biblical and judiciary intersection is very powerful, and we are pleased to offer this DVD,” John A. Furton, Family Video’s vice president of purchasing, said in a statement. And, in keeping with Kugler’s commitment to offer the film to individuals and churches free of charge, the video is a free rental.

In the reach of God’s Courtroom outside the U.S., it was dubbed in Arabic this summer by Nashat Filmon, executive director of the Bible Society in Palestine, who traveled to Illinois from his home in Jerusalem to give voice to the project. Filmon said the Bible society will give the DVDs to judges and lawyers in the Palestinian territories and make it available on their website and in bookstores.

“When Bruce gave me the video God’s Courtroom, I went and I watched it, and I liked it very much,” Filmon said. “I thought, ‘This is a straightforward message that’s coming from a lawyer, and it explains in a court setting what is to be expected.'”

More than 20 countries have Arabic as their official language, Kugler commented, representing millions of people who “have never heard that God offers them a pardon from the penalty of their sin. This is the best news a person can ever be told.

God’s Courtroom also is available on the World Wide Web for viewing and download at www.godscourtroom.org.

“It is perplexing why many people in the United States have the opportunity to hear the Gospel dozens of times, but people living in Arabic speaking countries may have never heard the Gospel one time,” Kugler said. “We are praying that the Holy Spirit will use Arabic version of God’s Courtroom to impact millions of people.”

The film has been shown in the U.S. on the National Religious Broadcasters television network more than a dozen times, as well as the TCT Network and Total Living Network. Kugler, a member of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists, has shared his courtroom-themed message in China, Taiwan, India, Argentina and Nicaragua. The film has been dubbed in Spanish and plans are in place for a Chinese version.

“The message crosses cultures because it’s the Word of God that impacts people’s hearts,” said Kugler, giving God the credit for every outlet he finds to showcase God’s Courtroom.

“How is it possible that we could get a film aired on major networks around the nation, speak in different parts of the world and have it in 770 video stores?

“We can’t,” Kugler said.

“This is a good example of taking a small project and really bathing it in prayer and fasting, and trying to do this the right way with the right motives for the glory of God.”

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  • Meredith Flynn/Illinois Baptist