The JESUS film makes history as it is now translated into its 2,000th language. The film depicting the life of Jesus Christ is now the most translated film of all time. Released in the 1970s, it still has a great impact to viewers in today’s secular world, reports Canada-based Christian news website, CHVN Radio.
The latest version of the the JESUS film is dubbed in Zo, a language spoken in Myanmar and India. Roughly 65,000 people speak Zo, including refugees and immigrants living in 28 U.S. cities. Myanmar is a predominantly Buddhist country and is 12th in Open Doors’ World Watch List which means religious minorities suffer high levels of persecution. Discrimination against Christian families forced people to flee their homes and now they’re scattered around the world.
We’re excited for what the future holds as we continue to translate this life-changing story. —Josh Newell, executive director of Jesus Film Project
Jesus Film Project hosted screening events to debut the film in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas; Atlanta, Georgia; and Fort Wayne, Indiana where there are large Zo-speaking communities. The Bible is already translated in Zo in 2019 but hasn’t been printed in Myanmar yet, and many of the Zo are unable to read. Having the JESUS film in Zo can reach more people and let them understand his story.
“Being able to release JESUS in Zo is the payoff of years of innovation and dedication,” said Josh Newell, executive director of the 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.”
The JESUS film tells about the life of Jesus from birth to death taken from the Gospel of Luke. According to the Jesus Film Project website, 490 million people have come to Jesus after watching the film since its release in 1979. It is the only film to be dubbed into more than 1,000 languages.
“We’re excited for what the future holds as we continue to translate this life-changing story,” said Newell.
Translating films, books and other materials have their unique stories before the work is completed and the Zo project is no exception. The recording team faced one of the biggest challenges yet, the Covid-19 pandemic. With travel restrictions and lockdowns imposed on everyone, plans of translating the JESUS film into Zo halted, but the work needed to continue.
Teams from the Jesus Film Project contacted immigrant communities in the U.S. who represent groups that have the least access to the gospel, and that was how they met Pastor Sing. Through God’s faithfulness, the teams didn’t need to travel internationally to complete the translation project. Pastor Sing is in seminary in Texas and is originally from Myanmar. He leads a small Zo house church in Fort Worth and he became a vital partner in completing the JESUS film translation in Zo.
The Jesus Film Project believes that a video/film is the most powerful medium for the most powerful story. “Movies cross barriers of communication both culturally and geographically.” Since people have given a positive response to the JESUS film since its initial release, the organization decided to help everyone get access to the gospel in the language they understand. They 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. Their recording teams travelled around the world to work with local speakers to translate, record and review the film to ensure the accuracy of the message.