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‘Jesus’ shown in Juarez, Mexico, nightly at 70-100 sites durin

JUAREZ, Mexico (BP)–Jesus was seen all over Juarez, Mexico, in July, thanks to the efforts of First Baptist Church, Midland, Texas, Campus Crusade for Christ and several hundred evangelical churches in Juarez.
Every night from June 30 through July 30, the “Jesus” film has been shown on portable outdoor screens at anywhere from 70 to 100 locations. On city plazas, in public parks, in parking lots, even on blocked-off city streets, the Spanish-language version of the time-tested evangelistic tool was being shown to crowds averaging 200 people per showing.
An extensive media campaign saturated the city with news of the film, declaring “He Visto A Jesus en Cuidad Juarez,” or “I’ve Seen Jesus in the City of Juarez.”
“The most popular phrase in Juarez right now is ‘I’ve Seen Jesus,'” said Francisco Presendo, media director for Campus Crusade in Mexico. This message — and a similar one, “Jesus is Close to You” — has been painted on billboards and walls, printed on posters and fliers, sent over the airwaves in radio and television ads and even displayed on an electronic board over one of the main bridges from Juarez into El Paso, Texas.
“We want to wake up a desire in people to see the film,” Presendo said.
It would be hard not to have seen or known about the film if you were anywhere in Juarez in July, especially after dark. With 70 to 100 free screenings per night, the project aimed for a total of about 2,500 showings by month’s end.
Judging by the rate of attendance demonstrated by mid-July, by month’s end perhaps a half-million people will have seen the film depicting the life of Christ as told in the Gospel of Luke.
In the first week alone, 11,000 spiritual decisions were recorded on response cards given to people who viewed the film.
Each of those making such a decision were visited within 48 hours by volunteers from local evangelical churches. In addition to the spiritual counseling offered at the screening site, the Christian volunteers offered additional counseling, discipleship materials and prayer during the subsequent home visits.
Campus Crusade officials cited the involvement of hundreds of local churches as the key to the success of the Jesus film strategy for mass evangelism.
“Churches that are participating are experiencing a revival, and it’s very different from a stadium crusade,” Presendo said.
Churches across Juarez prepared for the July campaign for months. Campus Crusade staffers trained 2,000 people in evangelism and discipleship, as well as providing the expertise for church-based volunteers to run the 100 16-mm movie projectors that were shuttled around the city for each night’s showings.
The overall project received its major funding from First Baptist Church of Midland and Border Ministries, an affiliate of First Baptist Church. The west-Texas church conducts extensive year-round ministries along the border, even employing a full-time on-site coordinator, Butch Villareal.
Deborah Fikes, a layperson who chairs the Mexico missions committee at First Baptist, believes cooperating with other evangelical Christians on projects like the Jesus film is a wise investment. It’s also the way to build the kingdom of God, she said.
“We’re really sold on the Jesus film because it’s a kingdom thing,” she said. “It unites the churches. It’s God’s plan, and we’re just proud to be a part of it.”
The portable screens used in the outreach are made of material that allows the film to be viewed from both sides. So in the plazas and streets of Juarez, crowds camped out all around the screens.
The two-sided viewing came in especially handy in locations where not everyone who wants to see the film wants to be seen in the crowd.
At one showing in the Bella Vista colonia of Juarez, a community known for its violence and drug deals, volunteers from a Christian church blocked off a short section of a street and set up the screen in the middle. Some people watched the film while sitting in folding chairs set up on one side of the screen, while others sat in or on top of cars parked along the streets, others peered out the windows of their homes and some stood on the shadowy street corners behind the screen, watching and trying not to be watched themselves.
At some locations, volunteers handed out popcorn and snacks to those watching the film. At all locations, they handed out Christian literature and the response cards.
At the conclusion of each showing, all those who wanted to know more about a personal relationship with the Jesus shown in the movie were invited to small-group gatherings with counselors. Children huddled in one group, teenagers in another, adults in yet other groups.
In addition to the presentations of the 16-mm film, some churches adopted a strategy of delivering videotaped copies of the film door-to-door in neighborhoods where residents were well-off enough to own televisions and video players. Campaign organizers hoped to distribute 10,000 of the videos.
The month-long film project will conclude with a free concert in an 18,000-seat stadium featuring the popular Christian singer Yuri. Once called the Madonna of Mexico, she later became a Christian and now presents a strong testimony of how God’s love changed her life.
Organizers anticipated several thousand decisions for Christ could result from the concert alone.

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  • Mark Wingfield