Friday, October 28, 2016

Too Busy?

Rushing to and fro, working for the Lord all day. 

Have a meeting over lunch, so I don't feel guilty about wasting time "just eating."

Talk on the phone while emailing someone else.

Use my hands-free cell phone while rushing home.

Kiss my wife, walk the dog and jog at the same time so I can kill two birds with one stone.

Jump in the shower, scarf down some dinner.

Check email and phone messages.

Spend 30 minutes of quality time helping the kids with homework, 

Watch some TV with my wife to unwind, and drop into bed at 11PM! 

I feel like I've have accomplished much today. I might feel fulfilled and good about myself for being so efficient. Wait! Did I even read my Bible today?

Never did get to be in silence and hear from God? 

What if he had different plans for me today? Being too busy is the enemy of rest. 

Rest restores! Matthew 11:28 reminds us to "Come" to the author of rest. Are you weary in well doing? He will give us rest...but we gotta stop and wait for it. 

God help me meditate, not medicate!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Isa Appeared to Omar at His Greatest Time of Need

Omar's life was empty and full of troubles. He was weary and without hope. Omar shared his depressed state with a friend, who advised, "It's time for you to go on the holy pilgrimage."

Omar listened...because nothing else was working. So, he went, seeking hope and peace, and joined the multitudes of white-robed pilgrims to his religion's famed city. He carried out all the required rituals at the various holy sites, including "Stoning the Devil." But when it was over, he told his fellow pilgrims, "They told me I would find solutions and hope here. I haven't. I'm still weary, worse than before and don't know what to do."

Discouraged, Omar went to the bus station to return home. The station was normally jammed with people, but not this time. There was only one bus left, and it was empty. It was a strange situation, but wanting to get going, he boarded anyway.

The driver spoke to Omar, "We don't have any passengers yet, but I can see you have a problem. There's a store over there. See that large rock? Just go sit on that rock and talk to Isa (their name for Jesus)."

"But why?" Omar asked the driver, who was insistent.

"Try it. Go there. Talk to Isa. You've tried everything else." Omar complied.

He walked over and sat on the rock. The moment he said, "Isa," his body began to shake. Omar felt something powerful filling his heart and body. "I spent two hours there without being conscious of the passing of time," he shared. Finally, when Omar regained his bearing, he went back to the bus, but now it was gone. So he took a taxi to his next stop.

When at last he returned home, Omar sought out anyone who could tell him about Isa. He had to understand what had happened to him. He finally found a man who knew only a little about Isa. He told Omar, "I can't help you, but someone gave me a DVD, a film called 'Isa.' Come to my house for dinner and we will watch it together."

Omar sat down and began to watch. The DVD came to the scene where John baptizes in the Jordan River. When he saw the face of the actor who portrayed Jesus, Omar couldn't believe it. He began shouting: "Wow, that's the driver! That's the driver in the bus! He's the One who told me to talk to Isa!"

He watched the entire "JESUS" DVD and heard the gospel presented faithfully and simply, including the words of Jesus, the very Word of God. Now he understood what had happened to him - his encounter with the bus driver. He had met Isa! Omar gave control of his life over to Jesus. A strong follower of Jesus in a nearby nation is now discipling Omar.*

*This account came directly from a key ministry director in the Middle East who trains and encourages "JESUS" teams in this troubled part of the world. With enthusiasm he told the story of Omar, and man from an Arab Gulf country.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Piercing the Darkness in North Africa

Outside his window, Karim and his family watched the North African sun descend beneath the desert sands. Night approached quickly. His wife and children latched wooden beams over the doors and windows—a familiar routine as they secured their home for the evening. Tonight, however, his family would not gather around the dim light of a lone candle like others. 

With careful hands Karim pulled out a small, solar-powered lamp. “Kulumi lamps,” the doctor missionaries called them. Nearly a month had passed since the Christians had visited Karim and his family, providing medicine for their illnesses and gifting them with the lamp.  

“Baba[1],” his youngest came to him. “Can we hear the story?” Smiling, Karim turned on the lamp, equipped with miniature speakers and an SD card. He pressed the button near its base and the familiar voice of a narrator told the story of Jesus in Arabic. His family knew it well, having listened to it many times. 

Like many people in this secluded, North African village, Karim imagined Christians to be evil and terrible. Their government taught them to fear Christians. But this stereotype shattered the moment some undercover missionaries knocked on the door and generously offered them medical care and light.  

God ordained the way the medical missionaries appeared at Karim’s door. With the country closed off to Christianity, the team had hoped to use their medical expertise in local hospitals as a way to quietly share the gospel one-on-one. In a last-moment decision, the government refused them access to the hospitals. So they prayed, waiting for God to reveal their next steps. 

Instead of making rounds within the hospitals, the team discovered God wanted them to make personal house calls. By partnering with Jesus Film®, the medical team received 72 Kulumi lamps, each with an SD card containing the audio adaptations of JESUS and the New Testament in Arabic, which can be played on the audio player in the lamp. All this was provided generously by donors the medical missionaries may never meet.  

The team decided to travel to small desert villages where they could distribute the lamps inconspicuously. Delighted to have their physical needs met with medical care, and a solar-chargeable lamp, the hearts of the villagers opened to hear about Jesus. They gladly listened to the audio adaptations of the JESUS film and the Bible. 

The medical team became bearers of some much-needed physical light that would chase away darkness, but also bearers of the eternal Light that would pierce the spiritual darkness in each home. 

Because of volatile conditions within this country, Christians must be careful how and when they share the gospel. But because of the heroic involvement of supporters like you, the medical teams build relationships with the families they visit and point them to Jesus, knowing gospel seeds will take root and people will come to Christ.

[1] The Arabic word for “daddy.”

Friday, October 7, 2016

We're Making Scary Film - Im Not Lion!

"Hey Tez, wasn't Jesus Film working on a scary film?" 

"Oh, that," I say with a nervous chuckle--my eyes looking for the nearest exit. 

Yes, it’s true, but it’s a little behind. 

Just a recap on the project— we had some folks in the Middle East ask us to make them a scary short film, since audiences in their areas love them and because that genre is really good for spurring on conversations about things like … “What are you afraid of? What do you put your faith in? Is there an unseen world that we … well … can’t see?” And so on.

Our film is called Nightwatch and it’s about a kid who thinks his stuffed lion is stalking him. It’s in post production right now. We’ve been working with other departments within the Jesus Film to make sure every element is as good as it can be … and that takes time. Lots of time. 

Part of it, too, is that we’re doing something that JFP, or Cru as a whole for that matter, has almost no experience in … creating digital visual effects shots.  

Please keep praying for this project. We’ve already had some responses to unfinished cuts of the films that I can’t wait to tell you about. But we’ve had one of our fellow Film Production guys who works on the digital effects have to slow down his involvement because of a bad accident his wife experienced recently—please keep them both in your prayers too. In spite of all this, we’re on track to finish the film up in the next few weeks.

Thank you so much for your prayers. I continue to see, more than ever, how these films are reaching people who would NOT be reached through an overt Christian film. Or a sermon. I think we’re on the right track, and I’m thankful that you’re with us.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Solder Becomes Mobile Missionary

Sharing your faith is against the law! This summer, Russian president Vladimir Putin approved a package of regulations that ushered in restrictions on missionary activity and evangelism. Despite prayers and protests from religious leaders, the Kremlin pronounced laws against sharing your faith in private homes, online, or anywhere except recognized church buildings. Since most growing churches meet in homes, this law is devastating—not to mention the sudden prevention of JESUS film showings.

Thankfully, a few years ago, the generosity of forward-thinking donors provided a way to view the film privately by funding the creation of an innovative tool—the Jesus Film app. Now anyone, anywhere can use the free app on a mobile device to bypass limitations. They can watch or share JESUS—regardless of restrictions.

This means no more borders.

Whether a country is closed to the gospel, war-torn, or just too remote to reach, JESUS and other films can be viewed and shared inconspicuously. Take Roman for instance, a young soldier who was at a loss for how to reach his friends…

The reality of war didn’t just unexpectedly interrupt Roman’s student ministry. It interrupted his life. Drafted into his country’s army to lead a small unit through a war in Eastern Europe, Roman found himself trusting God to guide him as he led the men under him. He went into this assignment with the mindset to share the love of Jesus with the men in his unit. But he ran into obstacles.

“Before I was going in the army, my attitude was to serve, minister and tell students about Jesus. I didn’t know the context of the war and the problems which may occur there,” he said. “The army and the war has a completely different life—the soldiers and the officers are not students!”

Unsure how to minister to his men, Roman began praying for a new tool. During Roman’s first furlough from the army, he attended a Campus Crusade for Christ® conference where he met people from Jesus Film Project®. Staff members introduced him to an innovative tool called the Jesus Film® app and trained him to use it. With this, Roman could reach people in challenging and isolated places like a war zone. So, when Roman returned from his leave, he brought his tablet with the app.

On the train ride back, Roman sat next to a soldier under his command, his friend, Oleg. Together, Roman and Oleg watched JESUS. Oleg shared that he had seen the film as a child, but seeing it again as a soldier in the midst of war brought him new perspective. Oleg feared for his life while fighting in the war. But after watching JESUS with Roman, he realized his only hope was Jesus.

This fear is common in soldiers. In fact, another soldier named Yuri also struggled with the fear of dying. It consumed Yuri’s thoughts since his job as a tank driver held great risk. He confided in his leader and bunkmate, Roman, that he would likely be the first in their unit to die.

Late that night, Roman pulled out his tablet, opened the Jesus Film app again, and shared God’s message of life-giving hope and truth to Yuri. With tears and a smile on his face, Yuri made the decision to follow Christ, saying “To die in war is nothing compared to eternity.”

Roman took any opportunity to use the app and its many films with the rest of his unit. After 14 months, Roman completed his service and returned home, knowing in his heart that he would see his men again one day in eternity. Equipped with his new digital product, Roman is grateful to you and continues with student ministry, now using the tablet to speak life to students with the same universal message that he shared with soldiers—JESUS.

As technology continues to progress, we thank God for pioneering partners. They provide the means to research and develop new ideas and help advance the gospel through state-of-the-art tools and creative new films, equipping mobile missionaries everywhere