International (MNN/JFP) — Jesus Film Project just hit a huge milestone: 2,000 languages now have a translation of the JESUS Film! That means millions of people can watch JESUS — the most translated film in the world — in their heart language.
Ryan Wagner, Associate Director of Digital Strategies with Jesus Film Project, says each new JESUS translation opens doors that other Gospel-sharing methods might not be able to.
“In many places, you could have a translated Bible and say, ‘Here you go.’ But that doesn’t get that far,” says Wagner. “Literacy rates can be an issue. Maybe they’re primarily oral languages. Maybe it says Jesus rode in on a donkey. Well, what’s a donkey? Maybe they’ve never seen a donkey before…. So to be able to have an audio-visual tool is really quite essential in terms of the Great Commission being fulfilled.”
Then there’s the fact that often for minority languages, JESUS is the only film they may have. Wagner says, “We sit down on the couch and we go, ‘What movie do you want to watch tonight?’ Well, in some parts of the world, this is the movie. I mean, this is it. This is all that they have. So to be connected to something like that is so unique…. For many of these people groups, to see the story of Christ played out before them is monumental.”
Jesus Film Project hears powerful impact stories all the time. Wagner shares this report from a friend who helped at a JESUS Film showing in Peru:
“It was a smaller dialect for this smaller, working-class, farming-type population of people. They’re a little bit more outcast from the broader sense of society.
“He said there was this older Peruvian woman wearing the brightly colored garb and necklaces. She shuffled her feet up to him and she said, ‘Thank you for not forgetting about us.'”
Wagner says, “I remember that line and I love it so much because that’s really what it is. We use the term ‘everyone, everywhere.’ We want everyone to have a chance to hear the Gospel.”
Zo: The 2,000th JESUS Language
The 2,000th translated language was Zo, a language spoken by approximately 65,000 people globally, including refugee and immigrant communities in 28 U.S. cities.
Myanmar, where Zo is mainly spoken, is a primarily Buddhist country, and people report experiencing discrimination for their religious beliefs. Access to economic opportunities can be drastically limited. As a result, many of the Zo people are now scattered around the world.
Jesus Film Project marked the film’s debut in Zo by hosting screening events for local Zo refugees and immigrants in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas; Atlanta, Georgia; and Fort Wayne, Indiana; all of which have large Zo communities.
Though a Zo translation of the Bible was completed in 2019, it hasn’t been printed in Myanmar yet, and many of the Zo are unable to read.
This translation of JESUS provides a way for Zo speakers to have access to the story of Jesus in their language in a format they can understand.
“Being able to release JESUS in Zo is the payoff of years of innovation and dedication,” said Josh Newell, executive director of Jesus Film Project. “The most dignified thing that we can do is share the story of Jesus in a way that people can understand, and in a way that doesn’t need any translation. We’re excited for what the future holds as we continue to translate this life-changing story.”
Where You Come In
Jesus Film Project couldn’t have produced 2,000 translations of JESUS without the generous funding of the Body of Christ. And they are still working on more!
If you want to give in support of JESUS translations, click here to donate.
You can also share JESUS with others on the Jesus Film Project app.
Wagner says, “I like to use the term ‘being a mobile missionary’ — the ability to hold tools in our pocket to share [our] faith is so easy. So, like I said, 2,000 languages — you can have all 2,000 in your pocket. I mean, it’s pretty phenomenal. When you’re traveling, when you’re meeting your new neighbor, when you’re at the bus stop, when you’re on the subway, you can be a part of people’s story, and language is not so much of a barrier.”
First released in 1979, JESUS gives an authentic portrayal of one of the most influential figures in human history. Since then, Jesus Film Project has partnered with thousands of translators, recording teams, voice actors and partners to make JESUS and other Jesus-centric videos available to everyone and everywhere in every language.
JESUS has been seen by more than 10 million people around the world and remains the only film to be dubbed into more than 1,000 languages. (Typical animated films are translated for 35-40 territories, while live-action blockbuster films are usually translated into just 12-15 languages.)
For more information about JESUS and Jesus Film Project, visit jesusfilm.org.
Header photo courtesy of Jesus Film Project.