Iran (MNN) — Nearly 90 percent of the people groups in Iran are considered unreached with the Gospel, according to The Joshua Project. Furthermore, 99.6 percent of the Iranian population is part of an unreached people group.
But this year, the Jesus Film Project is celebrating the completion of two new JESUS Film recording translations for the Qashqai and Kurmanji language groups in Iran. The JESUS Film is a popular tool for reaching unreached, unengaged people around the world — especially those in oral cultures — with the story of Jesus Christ and the hope he provides.
Both Qashqai and Kurmanji have around one million speakers. And they’re both on the unreached, unengaged people group list for Iran.
JESUS Film in Qashqai
The Qashqai language has been on Jesus Film Project’s radar since the 80s, but they were unable to make progress.
Jennifer Richardson with Jesus Film Project explains, “Qashqai had zero Gospel material available in their language. They’re mainly a nomadic people group, and that number is slowly decreasing [with] urbanization and moving into cities. But there is still a pretty large number that are still nomadic and it’s an oral language, there’s no written Qashqai language.”
Recently, God connected Jesus Film Project with a Qashqai believer who was able to volunteer for the JESUS Film recording. Up until that point, they needed at least 20 voice actors to do a full translation of the JESUS Film. But the ministry came out with a new process called single-voice narration for JESUS Film recordings where they only need one speaker.
“There are a lot of languages on the unreached, unengaged people group list where it would be really hard to find 20 voice actors, which is what we use for the full voice translation. And this especially works great in the oral cultures where they are used to storytelling anyway. So all we need is one person to do the translation of this single-voice narration script and they actually narrate the film.”
Jesus Film Project decided to test the one-voice narration in this part of the world with the Qashqai language and they received positive feedback! Now Qashqai speakers have access to the truth of the Gospel for the first time.
Please pray for a Church to sprout among the Qashqai people with the introduction of Christ’s story in their heart language. Pray for new Qashqai believers to grow in spiritual maturity, to form discipleship relationships with one another, and to use the JESUS Film to reach others.
JESUS Film in Kurmanji
The Kurmanji are a southern Kurdish people group more settled in the western part of Iran. Richardson shares, “We’ve had a [Kurmanji] script for several years and been told it would be very hard to get that many voice actors out of the country willing to risk their lives basically because they could be arrested or worse for being a part of this. And we didn’t have the single-voice narration as an option yet, so we’ve just been kind of sitting on this script, praying for people.”
Finally, she says, “We were able to make a contact who said, ‘I have a solution. I have enough people. I have a place. I have a studio.’ It all just came together that quickly, so it was cool to see how God had kind of ordained this certain time.”
But when the Kurmanji recording team finished and left, afterward the team saw there needed to be a few corrections. So the film was still incomplete even after the first recording nearly four years ago. However, God wasn’t finished.
Around six months ago, the Jesus Film Project connected with another contact who was able to gather more believers to finish the Kurmanji recording corrections for the JESUS Film.
Richardson says the recording process was impactful even for the voice actors. “They told us that this really changed their walk with God, being a part of this recording. They had never heard the Gospel in their own language before.
“The person who was doing one of the main parts that we had to redo in this corrective recording said that God spoke to him and, for the first time, he felt empowered to share his faith after speaking through the book of Luke and understanding the power of God and that it wasn’t just for him but for him to also share his faith with others.”
Future JESUS Film Recordings
There are still 14 Iranian languages on Jesus Film Project’s hold list. These language projects are fully funded. But they still need safe recording locations and contacts for the translations and voice acting. So their biggest need right now is prayer for God to connect them with the right people who can help make these final JESUS Film Iranian language recordings happen.
“We have another recording coming up in December, so we’d love prayers just for those involved, for safety and just that they would have a similar encounter with God through this and that this would strengthen their faith.”
And, Richardson asks, “For those that now have these tools available in Qashqai and Kurmanji…[pray] that the power of God would be with this tool and that he’ll open doors for people to hear about him for the first time, which is exciting.”