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Partnership magnifies impact of ‘Jesus’ film around world

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–No one can deny the evangelistic power of the “Jesus” film.
But a simple strategy — partnership — is making it even more effective, not only for evangelizing the lost, but for making disciples, starting churches and encouraging church-planting movements.
The film has become “a global resource for the mission efforts of the global church,” writes Rick Wood of Mission Frontiers Bulletin. Joint campaigns to use it, he says, are “a grand example of what the Body of Christ can accomplish by working together.”
So great is the film’s impact that mission strategists now include it in basic questions about the evangelization of any people group: Do they have the Scriptures in their own language? Do they have a self-sustaining church planting-movement? Do they have the “Jesus” film?
The partnership linking Campus Crusade for Christ’s Jesus Film Project and the International Mission Board is only one of many mission agency agreements with the film’s distributors. But it has become one of the most potent and far-reaching.
Hundreds of Southern Baptist missionaries already were using the film in outreach when Jesus Film Project director Paul Eshleman met with IMB leaders in early 1997. Some IMB media workers and strategy coordinators had served as consultants in translating the film into new languages.
The partnership agreements formalized the team effort — and expanded it. Now IMB missionaries can produce their own translations of both the film and the audio/radio version (called “The Story of Jesus”) for high-priority unreached peoples. They use the new translations in their own ministries and make them available to other mission partners worldwide.
“There are so many languages and so little time,” says IMB media consultant Mark Snowden. “We celebrate the film now being in 450-plus languages, but there are people groups speaking more than 6,700 languages. It takes everybody working together to get it done.”
A subsequent agreement with Campus Crusade has widened the partnership. And several exciting developments have unfolded recently:
— IMB media workers assisted in a major re-edit of “The Story of Jesus” audio script, developed for radio broadcast and the blind. The original version featured six 30-minute episodes, but much of Christian world broadcasting is done in 15-minute segments. IMB media strategists were tapped to rewrite the opening, using an introduction developed for chronological storying of the Bible. Trans World Radio is assisting in production of final scripts. Jesus Film Project strategists aim to reach 700 million listeners via radio and another 400 million through audiocassettes — particularly in restricted areas where it’s dangerous to show the film or video.
— Two new IMB journeymen trained in video production have been assigned exclusively to produce “Jesus” in high-priority languages. After training in Africa and at the Jesus Film Project’s master studio in Orlando, Fla., last summer, they moved to the Middle East. They began traveling to unreached areas to dub the film — using a compact production unit that fits into a suitcase. If their pilot project is successful, IMB strategists hope to place traveling production teams in other regions.
— IMB and “Jesus” project workers now partner with Wycliffe Bible Translators to ensure that scripts of new film and audio translations are biblically accurate.
“The production team members at the Jesus Film Project’s master studio are wide open to working together for the glory of God and the best possible communication of the gospel,” Snowden says.

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  • Partnership m Erich Bridges