Reflecting on the Jesus Film with Dr. Erick Schenkel
In 1997, the “JESUS” film premiered in 250 theaters in the United States. It was envisioned by Bill Bright, co-founder of CRU and was produced in cooperation with The Genesis Project. The vision was to show this film to people in every country of the world. Today, the “JESUS” film is the most watched film according to ‘Guinness Book of World Records’ and as of this year is available in 1500 languages with the latest translation in Daasanach. The Jesus Film project carries more than 30 short and feature length films. Additionally, it has partnered with more than 1500 ministries to see more than 200 million indicate decisions to follow Christ. With so many people coming to Christ, there are many stories of people’s lives that have been changed. In Everyone, Everywhere, Dr. Erick Schenkel, Executive Director of Jesus Film Project®, shares his incredible personal journey in ministry since graduating from Harvard College in 1974 and the subsequent global impact of the film “JESUS” since its release in 1979.
Schenkel has witnessed numerous miraculous occurrences as a result of both his and others’ commitments to sharing the Gospel around the world and working toward fulfilling the Great Commission through various mediums throughout the years including “JESUS” film screenings and the latest tools and films available through the Jesus Film Project app.
Schenkel shares his hope for the book.
“This book is an invitation to join the most exciting, the most compassionate, the most significant movement in the world. It is written primarily for people who are presently followers of Jesus Christ, but I dare to hope that some who are not His followers will be drawn to the beauty and the importance of the realities it presents.”
Through Everyone, Everywhere, Schenkel sheds light on the history of evangelism throughout the centuries and the varying branches of the Christian faith. He points out that though each of these sects might have had different beliefs on certain aspects, fundamentally everyone who has professed a belief in Christ has been tasked with the same thing – to spread the Gospel.
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
Schenkel opens up how in many parts of the world being a follower of Christ is a radical risk.
“We followers of Jesus Christ share one history. We are involved in one mission. We must also remember that simply taking to oneself the name of Jesus Christ—regardless of what one’s devotional practice may be—is in itself a radical step. In much of the world, there is nothing to be gained in this life by claiming to be a Christian. In fact, confessing Christ can be dangerous, regardless of the church one attends—or fails to attend. … Just taking the name of Jesus can get you killed.”
Throughout the book, Schenkel shares stories of missionaries, pastors and others in ministry work around the world who passionately share the message of Christ, despite the risks. From nations where sharing the Gospel of Jesus is illegal such as China and Middle Eastern countries to areas where Christianity is exploding including Korea, Vietnam and parts of Africa and Latin America, Schenkel explores how the message of Christ is indeed reaching the nations. He also talks about the fact that though the United States and other westernized countries still play a role in spreading the Gospel, the saving grace of Jesus is now being spread “from everyone, to everywhere.”
Share your faith. Whether you are travelling to another country or just going about your daily life, God has called each of us to make disciples. Pray and ask God to show you someone that you can share your faith with. It might be a co-worker, family member or friend. Take time this week to reflect on the Great Commission in Matthew 28 and also throughout the New Testament. Look at how the disciples and believers shared their faith. Sharing your faith can be as simple as giving someone the Jesus film, telling them about your faith journey or inviting them to church or an outreach.
Take risks. Too often in the Christian faith, we get comfortable. We put off sharing Christ because we are afraid that we might offend someone. We often use the excuse that we don’t have time or we will share with that person another time. But it is important to remember that tomorrow is not promised. Take time this week to reflect on the life of Christ and how he risked his life and reputation to share the Gospel. Think about one way that you can put it into practice as you share your faith.
Pray. Pray for believers in the parts of the world where they are risking their faith to follow Christ. Pray for protection for them. Pray that they would be able to share their faith with others. Pray for ministries to have resources to reach people for Christ. Pray for the body of believers that there would be unity and a spirit of forgiveness and compassion. Instead of competing, ask God that ministries and churches would work together to reach the lost.
Everyone, Everywhere will release on May 23, 2017, and will be available on the Jesus Film website. For more information go to http://www.jesusfilm.org.