Six years ago this month we were getting ready to wrap up what we’d thought was a 10-month working sabbatical living in Orlando. Carrie was pregnant with Fia, due in less than a month. Our own plans for our life and ministry had been swept away, and we were 4-months in to a period of floating and figuring out what the Lord had next for us… we had two options in front of us (one in Orlando, one in Portland, OR) without any clear calling. I was spending at least an hour every day seeking God’s lead.
Then, on 16 May (the same day as the very last Space Shuttle Endeavour launch) it was six words. The closest thing that I’ve ever experienced to an “audible” voice from God…
“I want you to stay here.”
We spent time thinking about all of the things that happened in 6 years:
The birth of all 3 of our children (so far).
4 addresses and our first home of our own.
7 job roles between the two of us.
2 hurricanes & 5 Florida summers survived.
J started going back to school for design & stepped into a new vocational calling.
Struggled alongside a neighbor and a friend to overcome sin, and temptation. (It’s not over yet.)
Helped launch the Jesus Film app in 2011.
Led and designed the initial launch of our web app.
Invested in UCF’s campus ministry for 3 years.
Invested in the lives, families & spiritual journey of 15+ Orlando friends & neighbors
Worked on 28+ different projects (≥3 I still can’t share about).
Learned 3 new programming languages.
Trained hundreds of staff on how to use the Jesus Film app to share the Gospel clearly.
Hosted a viewing of the Story of JESUS for Children in our neighborhood.
Prayed for, and helped in our city after a series of high-profile shootings.
Designed resources specifically to help get the Gospel to Syrian refugees.
J preached at our church 4 times.
Each of these have stories upon stories attached to them, and almost all of them stemming from that call to stay in Orlando. We’re thankful for all of the ways that God has, and continues to lead us.
Thank you for all of the things you to to make it possible for us to live out our calling!
The Daasanach language is spoken by about 85,000 people from a people group of the same name living in and around Ethiopia, Kenya, and South Sudan. The people are largely cattle herders, and some have referred to their culture as “tribal avant-garde” with just one example being the colorful headgear they love to wear.
While the New Testament is available in Daasanach, the literacy rate sits somewhere around 2%, which limits the Scriptures’ impact on the people individually, and their culture on the whole.
Because of this, we’re proud to to announce that Daasanach has been released as the 1,500th translation of the JESUS film. The script was translated a while ago, but the production process can take years. If you want to hear the translation, it is available on the Jesus Film app, or on JesusFilm.org!
In 2010 the Jesus Film Project identified every language or dialect spoken by 50,000 people or more into which the JESUS film had not been translated. These people groups represent around 323 million people. Working with partnership translators and other missions organizations, we’re making incredible progress having completed 275 of these particular languages. Additionally, the frequency at which we’re releasing films continues to increase. Daasanach was just announced on 1 March, and as of this morning I saw that the total translation count had increased to 1,511!
Pray that we’d see the impact of Daasanach clearly, and that the Lord would continue to hasten the completion of the Great Commission!
The Translation Process
Many people have no idea what the actual process of producing a JESUS film translation looks like, these are the most basic steps:
YAY! After 10 months of full-time fund raising we hit our baseline goal in December, so I’m back in the office full time, now. And, I’ve jumped in with both feet. Since returning to my desk in the Jesus Film Project Digital team, I’m working on three different projects – I’ll share about two of them for now. One is to recruit some needed talent to the Jesus Film Project in general – we need more developers, designers, project managers, etc. around here! The Lord is doing some amazing things, and we need more people to help. I’ve talked about it with some friends at church, and someone is already looking into joining my team!
Charging With JESUS @ World Youth Day
The other one – as simply as possible – uses a router connected to a small hard drive that powers a small low-powered WiFi network and allows anyone to connect to it and download or stream content to their devices – content like our films, or the Bible in their language. It’s particularly useful in remote areas, or in areas where there is active suppression of the Gospel.
It has other uses as well, I’ll pass on a story from Poland this past summer:
Matthew sat by himself in solemn silence. He had made the pilgrimage to Krakow like millions of other students, but he still felt out of place. Finding a shaded seat in a charging station, Matthew plugged his phone in and stretched out to relax. The screens inside the tent played film after film—each one reminding him of something he had learned in his theological studies—but then again, he was only half-heartedly paying attention.
Matthew was in Krakow with other Roman Catholic young adults attending World Youth Day. Through our partnership with Poland Campus Crusade for Christ, at least 1,500 volunteer evangelists gathered participated in the event. They manned mobile device charging stations and engaged people in spiritual conversations with the Jesus Film app.
At one such charging station, Hannah began packing up her things. She had put in a long day of speaking with curious students, but her shift at the charging station was over. As she walked away, the Holy Spirit prompted her to have one more conversation. She turned and saw Matthew watching a short film on a television screen. She walked over and greeted him.
Matthew shyly said he didn’t speak English very well. But as Hannah continued to talk with him, he started to open up. Maybe she knew the answers he needed. Hannah spoke about knowing Jesus personally, and asked him if he were to die tonight, did he know where he would go?
Thinking for a second, Matthew realized that he didn’t really know. “It’s split 50/50 between heaven and hell,” he said. “I have a personal relationship with God, but I’ve done stuff I shouldn’t have.”
Hannah smiled. “That’s where grace comes in,” she said. She explained the powerful grace of God—how we don’t have to be perfect. Matthew grew curious. Me? He thought. Grace for me? Matthew’s questions tumbled out freely and other Campus Crusade volunteers joined their conversation. As the grace of God registered in his heart, Matthew smiled. Maybe God could forgive him. Maybe he could find grace now and on the other side of death.
At World Youth Day last summer, 3,198 people heard the gospel and 400 people indicated they received Christ. Pray that Matthew continues to pursue God’s forgiveness in Christ and finds assurance in his relationship with Jesus.
As we move forward with this particular project, please pray for us. I’ll continue to update you all as I am able. It’s extremely exciting!
Don’t start rumors, I’m not pregnant. But since I have spent a full 3 years of my existence now on one side or the other of such a relationship, I’ll take the liberty to speak on it; Pregnancy is bizarre.
Physically closer than anyone can ever be, you and the most important stranger you’ve never met collaborate in a mystical project of exponential growth. Eventually, what started out as an imperceivable state of being, fills you with a certain “gravity” that, by the end, is rather hard to ignore. Then, after an inevitable, terrifying separation event, full of unknowns and much pain, you finally meet the face of the familiar stranger you’ve known rather abstractly from within for what feels like — trust me — a lifetime!
The thought struck me this week as I was talking with friend struggling to feel close to the Lord amid the emotional turbulence of pregnancy: Being indwelt by the Spirit of God in the “already/not yet” of His redeemed but still broken world is bizarre.
Even for “veterans” whose personal relationship with Jesus dates back decades, life with God can feel uncertain and abstract. When the day is new and the coffee’s fresh, everything tingles with the glow of glory, and by 8pm you wonder if you could even tell the Holy Spirit from indigestion. In Paul’s words, we are seeing only “through a glass darkly” (1 Corinthians 13). Being “pregnant with glory” is hard!
To be sure, relationships deepen when faces get involved. Why else would my phone come with hundreds of emoji faces to augment my text messaging needs? But the occasions that call for a standalone face without words are few and far between. Scripture affirms as much; In John 20:29, Jesus describes the blessing of having believed without seeing a face, but according to Paul in Romans 10, it is pretty stinking hard to be saved without words involved somewhere.
Now, I have some quite wordy children, but none of my babies to date have been verbal in utero. Imagine if you could get a written commentary from your baby during pregnancy — expressive, informative and nuanced with personality. It would be a different experience for sure!
Thinking about the impact of the Jesus Film, it does indeed involve faces — a factor that has given immense dynamic power to all manner of visual media in our day. But since actors are clearly not the Biblical characters they portray, the “faces” are beneficial like a mere sonogram. In our estimation, it’s the script of this 37-year-old film that packs the punch — words spoken by an actor, directly from the gospel of Luke, translated into 1,463 languages and dialects as of this month.
Jayson has been working hard this year to make sure that we’re able to do our part in this work that the Lord has called us to in an unburdened way. He’s travelled more than 100 days this year to meet with new connections. He has been challenging scores of people and dozens of churches to pray for us, and to be ongoing financial partners in the Lord’s work.
As Jayson and I look toward 2017, we’re trusting God’s provision for the necessary $20,000 to cover the remaining costs of Xander’s birth, upcoming car repairs and purchases, and missed paychecks during this leaner season. As we prepare, and pray would you prayerfully consider a tax-deductable year-end financial gift of $1000, $500, $250, $100?
Please know that in any case, we’re so grateful for the ways you’ve stood behind our family, and your partnership with the Jesus Film has helped make a whole lot of folks’ “glass” a little less dark until the day we all finally see our Lord face to face!