Hope for the “Magdalena” of Italy

By July 6, 2011

Italy (MNN) — The Muslim woman entering the Campus Crusade for Christ afternoon tea for women is obviously hesitant. She is unsure about Christianity, and her religion is restrictive of women. How curious to have a group of Christians here to celebrate women! There are 24 other women in the room enjoying this afternoon tea being hosted in Rome, Italy. Event Coordinator Tina Lyle introduces the film being shown. It is called "Magdalena." Scenes are played of Christ reaching out to the outcast and unloved women in society. Before long, the Muslim woman is crying.

This true story is just one touching tale of the many responses received during the film showings of Magdalena. The JESUS Film Project has been hosting events for their "Magdalena: Released from Shame" movie this year in Italy, a country where many women are oppressed and marginalized. It may be shocking, considering that it is one of the more well-developed nations in the world.

But this film could not have a better audience than the women in Italy. According to Italy's National Institute of Statistics, one in every three women between the ages of 16 and 70 have suffered domestic abuse or mistreatment. It is estimated that nearly 7 million women in Italy have also experienced psychological violence like isolation, blackmail, harassment, stalking and intimidation.

Magdalena has premiered in 90 different countries and was first shown in Italy last year. Campus Crusade for Christ in Italy hosted the JESUS Film Project's showing of Magdalena. Since then, Elfi Thaon di Revel, director of Magdalena outreaches in Italy, has been putting together several showings across the country to reach out to women with the Gospel.

In the film "Magdalena," a transformed Mary Magdalene tells of the compassion and miraculous acts of Jesus as He reached out to society's outcast women. From examples such as the sickly woman with clotting blood, to the woman who committed adultery and was about to be stoned, stories of Christ's healing and tender love toward these women are messages of hope for women today. Scenes from the "JESUS" film are also included in Magdalena.

JESUS Film Project staff member Leslie Mayers says, "Women are marginalized here. They are expected to work and take care of the kids and the home. There are many things expected of them without a lot of appreciation. I think the film addresses this need to be loved and valued because it portrays Christ's compassion, His forgiveness, His love, and His acceptance of women in a way that…a lot of them have never even thought about."

Women who attend these events set up by JESUS Film Project staff see Magdalena and receive a DVD copy of the film and literature with discussion questions. Events are currently being hosted in churches, prisons, schools, hospitals, and counseling centers.

Revel states, "We discovered that this movie could become a tool for us to…offer a solution for these problems, and we are working…with many groups that are already active in helping women in need and in danger and women who need to start their lives all over again."

Pray for the staff of JESUS Film Project as they continue to reach out to the women of Italy. Pray that the Lord would move in the hearts of the women attending the film showings and that they would be open to hearing more about a God who loves them despite what they've done.

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