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Excerpts from "I Just Saw JESUS"
Written by Paul Eshleman

After 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.

* * *

Near 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 unquenchable flame.

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 home.

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 him.

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 mad.

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 a hitch.

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 effort.

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 follow. "

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 continent.

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)



content Editor Peter Benson -- no copyright, except where noted.  Please feel free to use this material for instruction and edification
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