The experience of COVID-Pandemic life has been nothing if not disorientating. Somehow it feels like we sent out the last update just a week or two ago, but it also feels like we haven’t written in three years. (It’s been more like 3 months, sorry about that.) Despite the fact that I have been working exclusively from home and that we have nowhere else to go, it feels like we have less time in our day, not more.
Since March, we’ve participated in social-distancing versions of: a wedding, a funeral, a 9-year-old birthday party, field trips, discipling, Pinochle, Battleship, Clue, Guess Who, design meetings, Bible studies, a bachelor party, and on and on. We’ve had roof leaks, we got rabbits to raise for meat, we built a bunk bed, released 4 new updates of the Jesus Film app, trying new hobbies, and so many other totally-normal things.
It’s all been a blur. But somehow a blur that felt like it has taken forever. And with the positive-test rate on the rise in Florida, it doesn’t look like we’re even close to finished with this weird fog-life.
A Trudge to Glory
Through all of it, my work has mostly continued on business-as-usual – just without a commute. I bounce back and forth between meetings, and heads-down times of “pixel-pushing,” user research, and exploring new possibilities in how people interact with our tools. All pursuing opportunities to update, fix, improve, and expand Jesus Film’s impact for the Gospel around the world.
I’ve spent time interacting with leaders of national movements of evangelists and disciple-makers, but sometimes I’m getting the pixel-spacing just right on an icon to communicate the difference between “download on wifi only” and “download on mobile data and wifi” even if the user isn’t able to read the labels in our app. (An important setting in places where 1 GB of mobile data might cost 15% or more of your monthly income.)
BUT! In this time of social-distancing, intense politics, and social change there have continues to be a lot of opportunities to get the Gospel in front of people that the Jesus Film Digital department and our partners have taken advantage of.
His arm is not too short to save.
One night in late May is known in one specific major religion as the “Night of Power.” It’s a night where they celebrate the supposed delivery of their scriptures from heaven to their prophet. Evangelists and missionaries in areas where this religion is prevalent find that people tend to have “visions” and dreams of Jesus leading up to that night. Many begin to seek out information about Jesus, and about the Gospel each year, and many respond to Jesus as the Lord that can give freedom, forgiveness, and power. Leading up to it this year, one of our partners – Jon Ralls of Kavanah Media – coordinated with Jesus Film’s Next Steps strategy to create a conversations using social media ad “recipes” to drive people who have had visions or dreams toward a short video from our platform, through chat-bot technology, and on to interactions with real people.
Take a listen to his podcast episode at: kavanahmedia.com/resources/19834
Here’s one story that came out of it (I’ve edited for spelling, brevity, and privacy):
So this [Central Asian] guy moved here to [EDITED] last October, God had been working in his life for a while, he has a 20-year-old son and an ex-wife who became Christians about 4 years ago but he wasn’t having it til more recently his son really pushed him to study more of the Bible.
He went to a local church to get answers but the older priest there wasn’t very helpful for him, and then he couldn’t even do that once COVID shutdown hit.
Until 2 weeks ago, he saw our “Dreams” Facebook ad in his language and using [his own religion’s] terms for Jesus, and it caught his attention. He sent a message and actually chose “I want to study the Bible with a follower of Jesus” from our chat tree, so we connected him pretty quickly with a multiplier [from his ethnolinguistic group], ended up talking with several of our connected [people from his ethnolinguistic group], and received Christ and then got baptized Sunday in a small gathering in a backyard here. THANK YOU, TEAM! AND PRAISE GOD!
Partnering Around the World
We’ve also seen “Next Steps” campaigns being run in: Indonesia, Tunisia, India, Australia, the UK, the Philippines, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and around the Middle East.
In our last update we talked about Voke, the other app that is produced out of Jesus Film’s Digital Solutions Team. I wanted to share one quick story from Desmond in Australia about how Voke is being used by Youth Group leaders there.