A well-known movie about Jesus’ life continues to make a monumental impact across the globe after the film was recently translated into its 1,500th language — Daasanach — and presented to a small village in Ethiopia.
The results of that presentation were transformative, as the movie, titled “JESUS,” — “a two-hour feature film based on the Gospel according to Luke” — reportedly led around 80 people in that small village to accept Christ.
As Faithwire previously reported, the movie, which was first released in 1979, has since been taken around the world by The Jesus Film ministry, part of Cru (formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ).
And, remarkably, the nearly 40-year-old film has been viewed by billions and has specifically led 200 million people across the globe to become Christians — a pretty startling number. In fact, the film has been so rabidly translated that it was recognized by The Guinness Book of World Records in 2012 as the “Most Translated Film” in history.
The recent stop in Africa was only the latest effort in a decades-long quest to use the movie to reach peoples’ hearts.
More than 600 people showed up to watch the “JESUS” film at the recent showing in Ethopia, which is stunning considering the local demographics.
Josh Newell, director of marketing and communications for the Jesus Film Projects, told Faithwire that those who speak Daasanach are generally “nomadic, pastoral people who are spread between Ethiopia, Kenya and South Sudan.”
“They are fiercely independent, and located in one of the most remote areas in the world,” he said. “Not only is it difficult to physically reach them, but also incredibly hard to penetrate their hearts.”
The Jesus Film team chose a village in Ethiopia, as it was the location where Daasanach is spoken with the easiest access. Still, it took a two-hour in-country flight and then another four hours by bus to reach the screening location near Omarate, Ethiopia.
Due to a variety of conditions that accompany the nomadic lifestyle, Newell said that the majority of the 72,000 Daasanach population has never even heard of Jesus.
“There are a few churches that have been planted in the area over the past 50 years. The challenge with a church building is that is physically planted in one location, so a nomadic people have trouble making the leap,” he said. “Also, the churches have not had success in working together despite the remote nature of their location.”
In the end, the movie made an impact.
The Daasanach were generally stoic while watching the “JESUS” film, though they did react by pointing to the screen and speaking to one another when they saw the scene of Jesus driving demons out of pigs — something that resonated with them.
“Our Ethiopian staff remarked that the Daasanach were pointing out that scene in particular because they experience evil spirits every day as they shepherd their flocks — it was something they could relate to,” Newell said. “I was shocked to hear this, but remembered that while this isn’t part of my American experience, it certainly is a part of cultures who worship animal gods.”
In the end, around 80 people accepted Christ and, two days after the screening, Newell said that church planting teams returned to the area to begin a fellowship group.
These leaders will work with village elders to help the community connect with the gospel and form bonds with other nearby Christians.
“The intent is to launch a multiplying faith community and connect them with other believers in the area,” he said. “In fact, the church planter leader of Ethiopia Campus Crusade said to me, ‘the beautiful thing about the ‘JESUS’ film is that after 2 hours, you have the beginning of a church.’ We saw that first hand.”