from "I Just Saw JESUS"
Written by Paul Eshleman
finishing a showing of JESUS in a rural village in Thailand,
film team members decided it would be wiser to sleep there
than to try to make the trip home in the darkness. Although
they had not been warmly received by the villagers, they felt
they would be given a safe place to stay for the night.
They were told they could sleep in the Buddhist temple; they
were not told that this temple was known for miles around
for its inhabiting demons. Others who had tried to stay there
either had been run out before morning or had been found dead
the next day.
The team gathered their equipment and settled down on the
floor of the temple. Shortly after drifting off to sleep they
were awakened all at once by the immaterial presence of a
hideous beast. There in the corner of the room appeared the
most frightful image they had ever seen. Fear struck them
all like an icy fist.
"Let's do what Jesus did in the film," someone shouted. So
together they prayed, and cast the demon out of the temple
in the name of Jesus! Sensing that the demon had lost his
power in the presence of the Son of God, the entire team fell
into peaceful sleep.
Early the next morning the villagers came to the temple to
look for the team's equipment. They were certain that, like
the others, these too had been driven away in the night, or
killed. When they found them all sleeping undisturbed, they
were confronted with the undeniable fact that God is more
powerful than any other force.
* * *
a village in Thailand where JESUS was being shown,
a gang of thugs decided to rob the team of their equipment,
hock it and make some quick money. Creeping into the village
during the night, they scouted the hut where the team's equipment
was stored. Security was simple. It would be an easy job.
But as they approached the entrance, they were startled by
two brilliant white beings filling the doorway. Both were
over eight feet tall and brandished flaming swords. Frightened,
the robbers ran into the darkness.
Hiding in the bushes, they convinced themselves that they
had probably seen a ghost and decided to try again. They went
around to the back door this time, but again, the figures
appeared, blocking the entrance, keeping them from what they
had come to steal.
One of the robbers cried out, "If this is the power of their
God, we dare not steal from them!" Later, some of the gang
members ventured into the film showing and became believers.
It was one of them who told this story to the team. (pp. 112-113)
"The village of Pamongan is in the heart of the oldest Islam
settlement of Indonesia. The first fiery Muslim missionaries
had swept across this part of central Java nearly six hundred
years ago, choosing Demak, a nearby city, as the site of the
first mosque to be built in the country. No Christian church
had ever existed in this steamy farming village, and frankly,
none of the churches in the Semarang region had even considered
doing evangelism here. Early attempts had all failed miserably.
Pamongan was "closed" to the gospel and everyone knew it.
So God began to work from the inside.
In Pamongan, Muslim merchant Subawi had grown restless in
his quest for God. Frustrated in his search for lasting peace
of mind and troubled by his crippling weakness for gambling,
Subawi pestered the local mullahs (Muslim teachers) for answers
every chance he could. Questions burned inside him like an
For weeks he sought help from the mullahs but the rituals
he was told to perform and the laws they instructed him to
live by never helped. Still he gambled, still he had no peace.
Where was the freedom he so desperately longed for?
His questions increased until one afternoon the mullah threw
his hands over his head in exasperation. "I do not have the
answers you seek, Subawi!" he said. He pointed to the bookshelves
lining his wall. "There. Take what you will from my shelves
and find it yourself!"
Subawi looked at title after title, and the one called "Holy
Bible" caught his attention. A friend had mentioned it to
him a long time before. He lifted the black-bound book from
the mullah's shelf, tucked it under his arm and headed for
Subawi had heard that a very powerful mullah named Jesus was
written of in these pages; someone who had healed sickness
and raised people from the dead. Surely this mullah would
have the answers he sought so earnestly--if only he could
find His name in the book. He opened it at the beginning,
looking for the name of Jesus, but, turning page after page,
he could not seem to find it. Then, almost at the end of the
book in a part called the New Testament, Subawi found what
he was looking for.
With great hunger in his heart, he read the pages several
times and knew this was the truth he had sought for so long.
He was not sure how to make it a part of himself, how to draw
it into his life, but he shared with his family what he had
discovered in this wonderful book the Muslim teacher had loaned
Subawi's mother Sunarti, a widow now, was desperately afraid
of dying. She lay awake at night worrying about the afterlife,
the superstitions and black magic of the central Java culture
casting fearful images into her mind. She had sought the answer
to her fears through a shaman, a priest who uses magic. With
his powers he could cure sickness, uncover secrets, see into
the future, and control events in people's lives, but he could
not reassure Sunarti about her fate after death.
When Subawi shared with his mother what he had read Sunarti
knew he had found what they both had been looking for. Swandini,
Subawi's brother, joined them as they named themselves Christians.
Only Subawi's wife remained opposed to their ideas about this
Jesus they spoke of. She treated them all as if they had gone
Several weeks later, friends from Semarang told of a film
they had seen in their village. It was about this man called
Jesus. Subawi asked permission from the village chief to show
the film in Pamongan too, but he was refused because there
were no Christians to sponsor it. "I am a Christian," he said.
"My mother and brother are Christians as well. We will sponsor
the film together!" And arrangements were made.
A few nights later, the film JESUS was started for
the first time in Pamongan. Within the first three minutes
the amplifier blew out. After all the waiting and preparations,
there seemed nothing to do but cancel the showing, until the
Muslim mullah in the audience offered the amplifier from the
mosque. It was hooked up and the showing proceeded without
At the end of the film, when the villagers were given the
opportunity to receive Christ, Subawi, Sunarti and Swandini
were the first to take a public stand for the Jesus they had
loved for many months. Two others stood with them that night:
a fifty-year-old laborer named Parti, and a Muslim mullah.
The next night some of the team members were to meet in Sunarti's
home with those five who had taken a stand in their new faith,
but eight people were there, including three who had been
too afraid to stand publicly the night before. The little
group met weekly and quickly grew to twenty, then fifty and
soon more than one hundred. One year later, Campus Crusade
officially turned the Pamongan congregation of two hundred
believers over to Baptist church leaders for supervision and
pastoring. One active member of the congregation is the former
leader of the mosque." (pp. 117-120)
"With the hundreds of church buildings in the United States
[and I might add England also] that sit empty on Sunday mornings,
it is sometimes difficult for Americans [and Britons] to understand
the excitement about church planting. But to those involved
in foreign missions church planting is the reason they are
there. So often, though, the methods used make it a futile
The ambassador to the United Nations for Swaziland told me,
"You missionaries do it all wrong when you come to our country.
First of all, you start with the women. We are a patriarchal
society. If you reach the men, the women and children will
Second, you bring too much written material. We have been
working hard, but still we have only 28 percent literacy in
Swaziland. Bring films, conduct dramas. Involve the children
in plays about Jesus and the fathers will always come to see
their children perform."
JESUS has proved to be an excellent solution to this
challenge. Everyone comes when the film is shown in a village--it
is a civic event, and often a novelty, since many of the areas
where the film is shown do not even have electric lights.
After the showing everyone is given a chance to "come to the
light" and receive Christ. JESUS serves as a filter
to find those who are ready to accept Him as Savior. The film
also presents the gospel clearly, greatly reducing the chance
of leaving people with misunderstandings.
And teaching is begun the next day when follow-up sessions
are offered to those who have professed Christ. New Christians
are taught how to study their Bibles, how to share their faith,
and how to continue meeting together for growth and edification.
Out of these small groups have come new churches on every
Paul McKaughan of the Presbyterian Church of America said,
"The JESUS film is the greatest tool for evangelism
that God has given the church in the last hundred years. I
believe it is one of the finest church-planting tools we have
ever had." (pp. 121-122)
The results of the JESUS ministry are remarkable.
It is not just another collecting of "spiritual scalps." Follow-up
counselors are found and trained long before the film is shown,
and the home Bible studies and study groups that are organized
afterward help those who meet Jesus through the film to grow
in their new faith.
We are not seeing emotional responses to a moving film but
decisions that change lives and breed the desire to share
what they have found with those who do not know Him. It is
pure, unbridled joy to be a part of this. (p. 124)