As Viewers of JESUS Surpass One Billion
The JESUS Film Project Targets the World
Within the next 39 months, distributors of the film JESUS hope to see viewers far surpass those who saw the film during its first 16 years of use. During the summer months, the total number passed the one billion mark. As of early July, 1,120,977,663 people in 219 countries had seen JESUS.
By the end of the year 2000, however, JESUS Film Project director Paul Eshleman and his staff plan to see that number increase nearly five-fold. In cooperation with Campus Crusade for Christ’s international ministries, as well as hundreds of other Christian agencies and denominations that use the film, Eshleman anticipates that by the end of the century, viewers of JESUS will surpass 5 billion—the world’s anticipated population old enough to understand the film’s message.
He readily admits that such a plan is by faith and dependent on God, but notes factors that also encourage him and his team in their planning and efforts:
– Currently, 682 mission agencies and denominations use the JESUS film as part of their ministry activities. Two hundred twenty of those agencies participate in the India Project, an intense, inter-agency use of the film in that vast nation of nearly one billion people.
“In all my years of serving the Lord,” Eshleman comments, “I have never before seen such openness on the part of Christian organizations to work cooperatively to get the job done—and without caring who gets the credit.”
– With 419 completed language versions already in circulation and an additional 220 in process, more than 85 percent of the world’s population can see the film in a language they understand. Many of the additional languages will be recorded and used by other organizations, such as the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, Wycliffe Bible Translators, Scriptures in Use, Northern Canadian Evangelical Mission, and Gospel Recordings. In addition to involving others in the process, advances in technology should also accelerate production.
– Technology, in fact, will play several roles. The film has been viewed on television in 93 countries—and television showings will increasingly be a focus, particularly in the more heavily populated areas. For those where government barriers prevent local showings, satellite television can still provide viewers with the option of seeing the JESUS film. Others will be able to hear a dramatized audio version via radio or cassette.
– Televised showings and radio transmissions will augment the work already being done by 2,223 JESUS film teams who will continue to take the film into both urban and rural areas. Campus Crusade alone plans for their sponsored teams to more than double. Eshleman hopes to see an additional 6,000 JESUS film teams launched by other agencies.
– Local churches often use JESUS film showings to increase their own attendance or to plant new churches. Trained members of those churches also help provide assistance in spiritual growth to those who choose to follow Christ after film showings. To date, at least 56 million individuals have indicated that decision to trust Christ. Thousands of house fellowships and new churches have resulted.
– More than 2 million videos have been officially produced and distributed. As “master copies” are placed in various countries, national ministries will increasingly be able to duplicate their own videos for sale and distribution.
Eshleman wryly credits black marketeers the world over as greatly multiplying that effort, despite the inability to track their efforts. More conventional video distribution strategies featuring the JESUS film already offer copies throughout neighborhoods in Canada, the U.S., Singapore, and Australia. Dozens of other media-sophisticated areas anticipate adopting similar strategies.
– Increasingly, mission agencies are developing plans to help take responsibility for reaching the remaining 2,323 areas that have little or no contact with the message of Christ. The Macedonian Project, for example, incorporates use of the JESUS film, whether 16mm showings or distribution of videos or audio cassettes, into their plan for short-term teams.
“We thank God for what He has done in these past years,” Eshleman comments. “The foundation has been well laid for what we are trusting Him to accomplish as we are available. I believe that He has led us to do all that we can, to rally all resources, to mobilize His people strategically, so that everyone everywhere can have at least one chance to hear of the love of Jesus.”
For more information contact:
The JESUS Film Project 910 Calle Negosio, Suite 300 San Clemente, CA 92673-6251 Phone: 714-361-7575 FAX: 714-361-7579 WEB: http//www.jesusfilm.org/
This article is reprinted by permission of JESUS Film Project’s UPDATE, Volume 13, Issue 4, 1997