Geography challenges the ministry of The GodMan in Madagascar

By May 21, 2008

Madgascar (MNN) — In five years of working in Madagascar, the ministry of Book of
Hope
has faced obstacles from challenging geography and extensive illiteracy among
the population. It has distributed about
2 million copies of the Book of Hope in the country, and began showing its evangelistic
film, The GodMan, in September of 2007. 

Widespread lack of education and literacy on the island
limited the impact of the Book of Hope, inspiring the creation of The GodMan
film.  The problem of geography, however,
requires a more complex solution. 

Madagascar
is the fourth largest island in the world and lies off the southern coast of Africa. It was
settled by Indonesians and colonized by the French. Asian and
Arabic-speaking peoples also live on the island. A plateau in the center of the region is
several thousand feet above sea level, and the coastal regions are remote and
inaccessible. 

Presently, the challenging terrain forces reliance on MAF
planes to bring film projection equipment to remote areas. Dedicated pastors often walk long distances,
carrying the heavy equipment to villages that have never before seen a
movie. A recent showing of the film in a
remote area reached an audience of 2,000 people. 

Created with computer-generated 3-D graphics, the film is
currently available in 30 languages and six formats targeting different
cultural audiences – Multi-Cultural, African, Indian, Slavic, Latin American, and
Peninsular Asian. The introduction and
conclusion of each version incorporates live-action people from its part of the
world. Book of Hope uses the African
edition in Madagascar.

Cal Ratz, Book of Hope’s Africa
director, explained that making the film culturally relevant helps children
relate to the story. 

“When the children are watching it, there’s nothing in the
movie that would say it is American or European. It is all African, and they
can relate to it,” he said. He added
that the GodMan is “very unique,” because “rather than starting with the life
of Jesus, the story…begins with creation, the Fall, and the need for a Savior.” Advice from the Jesus Film Project inspired
this format. 

Book of Hope offers the film in thirty languages and uses
the Malagasy version in Madagascar. However, there may be thirty other languages
used among the tribes along the coast of the island. 

After seeing the film, 80-90 percent of the children in an
audience often indicate a desire to follow Christ. Book of Hope recognizes that these decisions
need to be followed up with discipleship, and copies of the Book of Hope are distributed to the
audience. The books incorporate pictures
from the film to help the children remember it. 

One pastor outside of Madagascar’s capital city has
already shown the film to 500 people in one showing, and he has 21 more
appointments to show it. 

“He’s using it to reach his community and explain the Gospel, and obviously to bring people into the church,” Ratz said.

A Ugandan church leader told Ratz what he appreciates about
The GodMan: “When we give out the books,
that is sowing the seed. But when we show the movie, that’s gathering the
harvest.”

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