'JESUS' film now in 1,000 languages

ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)--The "JESUS" film reached a major milestone in July when it debuted in its 1,000th language, Lanka Kol, spoken by more than 1 million people in India.

"Now we have the opportunity to begin sharing the Gospel story with them in their own language," Jim Green, executive director of The JESUS Film Project, said in a statement.

As the most translated film in movie history, the JESUS film outpaces translations of blockbusters like "Gone with the Wind," "The Wizard of Oz," "Star Wars," "Titanic" and "The Lion King" combined, according to a news release.

The JESUS film, produced by Campus Crusade for Christ, opened in theaters in the United States in 1979 and has achieved more than 6 billion viewings worldwide.

More than 200 million decisions for Christ have been made as a result of the film, including about 14,000 people who made public decisions for Christ when a missionary team showed the JESUS film to Nigeria's Idoma people group this summer.

The two-hour docudrama about the life of Christ based on the Gospel of Luke often is shown in remote, Third World countries using a makeshift screen and portable projector, producers noted, and sometimes it's the first look people in those countries have at a movie image.

"Storytelling is the fundamental way that people communicate around the world," Green said. "Through the JESUS film, we can tell the incredible story of God's love in a way that people can relate to -- and we can do it in their heart language."

Project coordinators have plans to continue translating the JESUS film into 500 new languages. That includes every language with more than 100,000 speakers.

In the 1970s when Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade, thought of the idea for the JESUS film, he gathered a team of 500 scholars and leaders to determine how best to portray Jesus on the motion picture screen, according to the film's website.

The team agreed that the film must be as archeologically, historically and theologically accurate as humanly possible; must be unbiased and acceptable to all as a true depiction of Christ's life; must appeal to all ages; must be easily translatable into virtually all languages; and must be of theater-viewing quality and effective with both urban and rural audiences worldwide.

The film cost $6 million to produce, and it was distributed initially by Warner Brothers.

Compiled by Erin Roach.

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