Saudi Arabia (MNN) — How would you like to be in a movie? Would your answer change if your safety was on the line?
Jesus Film Project is working to get their movie translated into every language around the world, but not every dialect is easy to conquer. For example, because of security issues, a major Saudi language has gone without translators or voice actors for years now.
Then Horizons International stepped in. George Houssney, the organization’s founder and CEO, says six years ago, they started mentioning the project at regular conferences for Saudis. However, everyone they found was worried about having their voices recognized.
But as numbers went up, possibilities opened up. The first time Horizons held the conference, there were only about six attendees. Last year, there were 12. This year, they had 25.
Finally, they could get to work.
“As you have more people attend you have more people willing to help, so we found some and were able to record about 80% of the JESUS Film,” Houssney says. Now they’re only four roles away from finishing the entire project.
Even though voiceovers aren’t finished, the translation is already changing lives. The actor who voiced Jesus said the experience was life-changing, Houssney reports.
“He said that seeing the Jesus Film and dubbing it with a Saudi voice was the most exciting experience of his life. Playing Jesus grounded and solidified his love for Jesus and his appreciation for His teachings.”
Houssney and the team believe this translation will help a hurting people in need of hope. This particular dialect within the Khaliji dialect grouping, known as “Gulf Arabic”, is spoken by some of the most closed-off areas of Saudi Arabia. If they can get this translation in, Houssney believes the film could be massively impactful.
“When they hear another Saudi speaking, reading the scriptures, preaching, or sharing his testimony, you wouldn’t believe their facial features, Houssney says. “When they see the Jesus Film and hear the voices in their own accents and dialects, it’s really a very special and impactful feeling.”
If everything goes according to plan, the film will be released this year, even as early as the summer.
Still, it won’t be an easy journey. Actors are risking their families, livelihoods, freedom, and even lives by helping with this project.
And it doesn’t stop at physical threats. “We’ve had a lot of spiritual attacks on our people, even during recording,” Houssney says. “We had emotional issues, spiritual problem, conflicts among people… We knew Satan was really attacking us.”
But Houssney says prayer always wins out, and the changes coming to Saudi Arabia are a perfect example.
“A lot of people are disillusioned in the regime, in Islam, and in what Islam promises and doesn’t deliver, and when they hear about Jesus we’re seeing more and more people coming to know Christ.”
Houssney says there are an estimated 50,000 hidden believers in Saudi Arabia, and that number is starting to grow.
“We pray for a deepening of their love for the Lord and resilience in their faith so that they might continue and impact the country more and more,” Houssney says. “We want to see a massive revival.”
Ask God to provide these remaining four actors. Pray for their protection, and for the project to impact many lives.