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Take My Life

By Marsha Bacon, Communications Coordinator, GNPI

Kiev BannerUkraine has been in the news lately, along with countless other regions where unrest and violence continues to escalate. Russia began her crusade to occupy Crimea (the location of one of GNPI’s regional centers) in March, and that was just about the time the music video embedded below was completed.

I am on staff at GNPI and had some surgery back in April. I was in the hospital when I received the communication from Lena, the office manager in Crimea, that their third music video, Take My Life, was complete. As I sat there in my hospital room, watching the video on my phone, I thought about what my Ukrainian friends were facing—ugly photos coming out of Kiev where Russian troops had already invaded, the threat of violence and war, the threat to their physical safety, so much uncertainty!

Yet, the music video is the exact opposite of that. It’s calm, assuring, and strikingly beautiful. Take My Life, an old hymn, is a song about trusting God and giving him our lives.

I messaged Lena and asked her, “How much of the footage in the video was shot during the conflict of the troops moving in?”

She answered me, “All of it, and the shots by the sea were actually shot during the invasion. In fact, we had to postpone the first studio shooting day because that very morning we were occupied.”

The reality of this reduced me to tears. As I watched the video again and prayed for their safety, God revealed to me that even in the most dangerous storms of our lives, he can calm us with his quiet, tender presence.

I find it remarkable that media has the ability to transcend the limitations of cultures and languages and deeply touch someone in a hospital room thousands miles away. So take my life, Lord. You are certainly more capable of doing something good with it than I am.

May the Lord Finish What He Started!

by Nenette Pacoli, Regional Director of GNPI-Philippines

 

6I recently had the chance to leave the office and see how GNPI productions help draw a crowd and open doors to present the Gospel. Our mission team was composed of seven people from our church (including my husband, Bert, and me). We visited three different communities.

Our road trip began with a 14-hour drive to a seaport where we put the whole van on a ship that crossed the Pacific Ocean. We got off in Allen, parked the van, and got on a motorized banca (equipment, big speakers, and all) to get to San Juan, Lavezares, Northern Samar, a small island of about 300 families where our church planted an outreach ministry over 7 years ago. We showed All Things New (a GNPI drama about the impact of Christian discipleship on the lives of street children). We showed the drama that Saturday night in their town plaza to approximately 500 individuals (half of them kids!) with lots more watching from their houses. We were interrupted twice by 30-second power outages, but the local pastor was able to explain the message of salvation based on what the movie said.

The following day at church, a lady, who is a leader in the church, welcomed our team and mentioned watching the movie the night before. With a catch in her voice, she said that the lesson she learned was that we shouldn’t be focusing on the mistakes or faults of others but instead looking to Jesus for growth, strength, and faith. (Her tears alone made the long trip worth it for me!)

1We left the island after lunch, and we drove another four hours to get to Catbalogan, Western Samar. Around lunch time the next day, we loaded all equipment again on another motorized fishing boat to get to Casab-ahan, another island of about 200 families. (Our speakers, amplifiers, and tripods were stashed among bottles of vinegar, crates of dried fish, blocks of ice, big bags of chips, etc.) The team and I were afraid that the boat seemed overloaded, but the owner assured us that we would stay afloat. Maqueda Bay was calm, so the one-hour trip was uneventful. That night, we were allowed to set up in the middle of the busiest street where most of the people converged. There were absolutely no cars on the island.

We showed the film to approximately 200 people, again half of them were kids, but there were more men in the audience too. In fact, I observed the best reactions from the men as they applauded the antics of one movie character (Nardo) toward another character (Pastor Rico). They called Nardo, “bad boy,” but they grew quiet at the scene where Pastor Rico has a heart-to-heart talk with Nardo. Bert gave the message of salvation in the local dialect, as the pastor of this church was away on a retreat until the following day.

Early the next afternoon, we loaded all the equipment again on the boat to get to Cagot-saan, an island about 15 minutes away. This time a local pastor, Pastor Allan, was with us. It was another fishing village of about 300 families. Since there was still daylight, I saw what seemed like throngs/multitudes of kids, and they came swarming around us as we set up the equipment. I started taking pictures, and I watched these kids’ faces as they smiled and played around me.

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We showed the movie when it grew dark, and after the Pastor Rico-Nardo scene, we paused and Pastor Allan stood up to talk about salvation. He was crying! He said he was so touched by the movie. (He was seeing it for the first time.) In the quiet of night, he led people in prayer. We finished the movie, packed up, and got ready to go home. As we were on the boat, our host, Ellen, told us that her husband, Benjamin, made the decision to accept Christ. She was overjoyed because he was a member of a different sect, and though for over 20 years of marriage he was very supportive of Ellen and their children in their church activities, he never really realized his need to accept Jesus for himself until that night after watching the movie!

The movie was the talk of these three communities. We were able to plant seeds of faith and seeds of knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now we are leaving it to the Lord to make these seeds grow, mature, and make a difference in these people’s lives. Let’s fully rely on the Lord to finish what he started.

A Glimpse into the Philippines

The Philippines is a collection of more than 7,000 islands. Interestingly, it seems there are as many expressions of religious practice and worship as there are islands. This can be confusing indeed.

In fact, it is not uncommon for the people of the Philippines to bring together parts of different religions to practice strange “hybrid” sorts of worship. People could be in a cathedral in the morning, and then that same afternoon, they might offer sacrifices to small figurines in their homes.

Idols would not be something most Westerners would be accustomed to, but in the Philippines, idol worship is rampant. The same person who offers such devotion to an inanimate object could also carry a cross and be nailed to it during Easter week to honor Jesus!

GNPI-Philippines has been speaking into this worldview since 1998 with productions like My Worship: Real or Replacement? and WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) series. These have become very popular broadcast series with the Filipino people. Strange, you say, but for Filipinos, these video series accurately communicate into their worldview.

As a result, the one true God is bringing a life of focus and clarity to many who are choosing his one and only son, Jesus.

 

Hannah’s Transformation

Hannah lives in the Philippines, and her transformation story comes to us from Nenette Pacoli, regional director of GNPI-Philippines.

Hannah is a young lady who had been deeply hurt by the actions of her father. Her family had been torn apart. She awoke every morning asking, “Why are we a broken family?”

Hannah was in so much pain that she turned to worldly comforts with terrible consequences. She even attempted suicide. However, in March (2014) she saw All Things New, a movie produced by GNPI-Philippines, and her world shifted.

Here is Hannah’s story in her own words:

Brainstorming in India

By Manee Massey, Regional Director of GNPI-Damoh, India

Today was an exciting day at GNPI-Damoh, India. We invited a number of families from the local Christian community to discuss problems many married couples in India face. Forty-eight people from different walks of life and a variety of family situations participated in the two-hour discussion. Together they brainstormed and reflected on numerous problems families face.

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Many timeless issues were raised such as a growing lack of interest or distrust between partners, as well as more modern issues like the growing effect of technology and the strain it can cause on marriages. It was an illuminating experience for all who were involved. Some remarked they had never really thought about all the daily hurdles they face in their families. Even though they had experienced some of these problems, they usually dismissed them.

Despite the seriousness of issues they thought about, everyone in the group seemed to enjoy the opportunity. Some of the husbands even joked that their wives were taking advantage of the platform to vent concerns and to bring up every perceived shortcoming in their husbands. Our prayers go with the husbands that they may not face their wives scorn after this friendly discussion.

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At the end of our time together, these 48 different people had listed 33 problems most families face. We feel the topics on this list can be explored through a dramatic video series illustrating these problems and encouraging discussion among families facing similar situations. At the same time, through the series families will learn they are not alone in these common struggles.

Our next step, as a result of this meeting, is to meet with a scriptwriter to develop scripts for 13 episodes for future productions.

All the participants enjoyed the lunch prepared by our staff. Before they left, we gave each of them a copy of The Global Gospel in Hindi.

A Glimpse into India

Know any great teachers? Chances are a great teacher is the reason why you chose your profession, developed a life-long passion for a hobby or special interest, and likely why you came to know Jesus. There’s something special about people who can take ideas and concepts and make them come alive to us. People who teach, especially about Jesus, deserve a place of honor in our society.

Teachers are given this high respect in the nation of India. It’s this veneration for learning that has given our series, The Parable, such high success and popularity.

The interest in the series comes in a place where Hinduism is alive and well and the worship of hundreds, if not thousands, of gods continues. The Parable series was effective in India because it allowed contextualized interpretation to occur between the pages of Scripture. This means people could easily apply what they were seeing on the screen to everyday issues and problems in their lives.

What would Jesus look like, who would he be, what caste would he be a member of if he had lived and taught in India? What would have been the hallmarks of his teaching and of his ministry in the community and in the country? Questions like these shaped what viewers saw. Finding ways Scripture could be portrayed in digital parables made all the difference for the Hindi-speaking population in India.

This impact was multiplied through access to local cable networks. While this great teaching reached thousands, there’s much work to be done. Only 2% of India’s more than one billion citizens follow Jesus. In fact, of more than 2,250 people groups in India, the latest numbers suggest 2,027 are still unreached. The need to make disciples in this great country is huge!

It’s going to take a lot of great teaching by a lot of great teachers. You know what? Your support of GNPI is helping people share the Gospel effectively. Thanks for helping GNPI accelerate global evangelism to places like India by providing Bible teachers with Christ-centered media content that answers everyday questions.

 

A Life-Changing Message Must Be Shared

Free food food does no good for the starving if they don’t know it’s available only a short walk away. Illness will persist for the sick if they don’t know about the treatment available just across the street.

The Gospel is a life-changing message. Yet, unless people hear, how can they believe and be saved? One man in India experienced this dilemma first hand. He had seen a DVD produced in Damoh, and it changed his heart. It answered questions he’d had all his life. He longed to share the message with his friends and family, but he was very poor and did not even have money to buy a bus ticket to travel to them.

David Lall, international consultant for GNPI, told us this story some years ago, but we think it’s still so relevant today. This man’s actions touched us when we first heard the story, and we hope you will be moved by his courage today.

 

A Glimpse into Kenya

Last week I invited you to come with me for a journey around the world to visit some of the places GNPI works, to meet our regional directors, and to learn more about the cultures and worldviews in which we work. First stop: Kenya.

The drama was entitled Dini ya Ukweli or True Religion. It was not exceptionally written or phenomenally produced, but was extremely popular with Africans. Why? Because this GNPI Swahili drama hit at the heart of an issue – the issue of religious men with dishonest hearts.

In this video, a local preacher (and friend of GNPI) plays the part of a shyster (and does it well). He is someone who takes advantage of the good intentions and ignorance of others. He is one who mocks his own culture, one laced with ancestral worship for the sake of making easy money.

People could identify with the film’s main character because it amplified his hypocrisy, and in the process exposed disingenuous hearts. At the end of the day, the African audiences who personally experienced or saw such shenanigans in real life knew they were not seeing what Jesus would do. True Religion was not an indictment. Instead, it was a mirror helping them see into their African culture, and it worked!

I hope you’ve enjoyed our stop in Kenya. Stay with me as we continue our trip next week with a visit to India.

A Brand New Church

by TP, Regional Director of GNPI-SE Asia

Last week I visited a village for the grand opening of a new church. It encouraged me when I found they are growing in their faith in Christ, and want to be involved in evangelism and Christian ministries.

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One family asked me to pray for their children to pass an important educational test, which is equal to completing 12 grades with distinction. The head of that family said he is praying that he will be able support a Bible school student next year.

The church leaders requested that we come and teach them once a year and lead an annual Christmas celebration. We also talked about the possibilities of productions in the Kanpetlet chin language with two of the leaders.

These church leaders told us they are growing more and more in Christ through the tools we have produced. They trust our productions and want more. If possible, they want us to produce materials in their language. For this reason, we have talked with a preacher who can teach and preach the Word of God in their language.

If we can organize one tribe after another to influence the young generations by sound doctrine through media productions, God will be glorified. Please pray for us continually.

Glimpses into the Regional Centers

As a former missionary or cross-cultural worker in Kenya for almost 20 years, I made my living studying the habits, languages, and attitudes of others in order to connect with them. The connection was vital if I was to impart Biblical knowledge and, more importantly, instill a call of the Divine into the heart and lives of future African disciples of Jesus. To do this well, language learning and cultural adaptation are key.

Marketing expert Seth Godin writes, “Worldview has nothing to do with you or your mission… it’s the way a person acts without you in the room.”

For the next couple of weeks, I’d like to share interesting, personal notes about some of our regional directors, the countries where they serve, and highlight a project with impact that is connected to their specific worldview.

My hope is that through these glimpses you’ll not only learn more about our regional directors and the centers they help lead, but that you’ll get to know, just a little bit better, the cultures and worldviews that are part of the people we ask God to help us reach on a daily basis.

So, come with me around the world. Our first stop in next week’s blog is the place I spent so much time and holds a special place in my heart, Kenya.

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