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On the project's website (www.gods-story.org) there is even a link to the "Holy Hip Hop" God's Story. This contextualized rhyming style reaches the urban lost, teens to 40's. Hip Hop may not be "your" style, but since this Spoken Word version of God's Story maintains the integrity of the message, it is already penetrating this lost culture. Check a sample here: www.biblevideo.org.
Dorothy Miller says that The God's Story Project needs like-minded Christians to stand with them to complete the translation of languages and dialects needed to blanket the world with God's Word. "Our prayer is that people of all language groups, no matter how small, will receive this clear presentation of God's Word," she says.
"It will play well in any culture and really get Christ's message of hope across to the viewers," says Bill Kliewer, Director of International Resources for World Vision International. And, according to Wycliffe Bible Translators: "Even in the most primitive areas of the world, people have videos." "
"The God Story project started with a film company that had an opportunity to do a film of The Bible. I was a scriptwriter and that was how I got involved with it in the beginning. The idea was to have an overview of The Bible. It turned out to be eighty minutes long in a one storyteller format," said Miller.
Miller was talking with Dan Wooding, President and Founder of ASSIST Ministries/ASSIST News Service on his Front Page Radio program, which is due to be aired this Sunday (June 3) on KWVE 107.9 FM at 3:30 PM Pacific Time.
Miller said Dean Jones is the English narrator for the project and producers were able to lay down the narration of other languages over the pictures. The illustrations are drawn in such a way so that whoever is watching it will tend to think they look like the pictures and think it is themselves they are seeing.
"It feels like it was done in their (own) country. We have a hundred and seventy-three languages done now. It was a Calvary Chapel pastor and a Calvary Chapel artist that really got the whole thing started. So it was birthed in Calvary Chapel, really," Miller told Wooding.
Miller said the project is more like drawn pictures and computer graphics and the movement of the camera gives it a feeling of motion. The film goes through major stories of The Bible starting with Creation.
Miller explained: "A lot of time is taken with Creation and the Fall because we felt like that is the foundation for understanding who Jesus is when we know how lost we are, how we fell in the garden, then that lays the groundwork. We found thatís a very important thing that God laid out for us because most of the people in the world that have any scripture exposure itís New Testament and the foundation is sadly lacking, in that weíve allowed Satan to do a little bit of an end run -- because a Buddhist will say 'well you have Jesus and we have Buddha and Buddha is older' or the Hindus will say 'I have thirty-three-million gods Iíll take one more, Iíll take Jesus' or the Muslims will say 'well yes Jesus is a prophet in the line of prophets.' But when you start from the beginning, the way God laid down the Bible, you have a tremendous response of understanding: itís amazing."
Miller was asked about the involvement in the project of Norm McGary, who illustrated for Walt Disney and Hanna Barbera Inc. and then got involved in Christian projects. McGary's covers and artwork are seen world-wide on work done for J. Vernon McGee, Hal Lindsey, the Institute of Creation Research, ACTS Tracts, and Rock of Israel.
"Well, his heart was to reach his mother who was (a believer in) Christian Science. So he drew some pictures that showed that Jesus was 'I am', that Jesus is God, and out of the twelve basic pictures grew a whole film. And his mother did accept the Lord later," said Miller.
Wooding asked Miller how Dean Jones was persuaded to do the narration?
"I have to say thatís of God -- we prayed for the very best -- someone that had a deep love for the Lord that also had the skill to be a character actor, because when we do the different languages itís not flatlined, it has life (and) dimension.
"So when characters speak thereís a voice, but itís all done by one story teller which is very important because when most of the world lives in an oral society and they use stories to transmit their information, and since seventy-five percent of the Bible is stories I think God knew when He wrote the Bible how to reach the world. So this one storyteller format allows people in other cultures, that are used to telling the stories, to hear it and theyíll go home and tell their families what they just heard and theyíll repeat the story. Itís amazing."
Does the project you use still the same movie or have they developed more?
"The movie is the same, but we discovered the way it was written that that it works (best) in audio so there are many places in the world that prefer the audio -- you can kind of slide it in under the radar with audio. We even have these solar audio players that are manufactured in Israel by Mega Voice that we put the program on and they go all over. I think we have Godís Story in 80 different countries right now that are on these solar players so that people in remote villages can hear the story and it stands alone in audio, so it works," Miller said.
According to Miller KWVE in Los Angeles has been broadcasting little pieces of the project. In fact maybe some people have even heard on the radio some of the little excerpts from Godís Story.
"So itís also written down -- people can read the script if they get it that way. But what has happened, say in the Buddhist world, is a very interesting thing that happened to one of the people who helped us do eleven languages throughout Nepal and Tibet and in the Buddhist world. I was talking to him on the phone and he said that he had to leave right away to go to the hospital because his mother in-law was dying. I asked if she was a believer and he said 'no, weíve tried to tell her for fourteen years but she wonít believe.' And I said 'has she seen Godís Story'. He said 'no' and I said why not take it to her.
"So he took a DVD player and played it in the hospital. He told me that she wouldnít believe -- sheís a Hindu cult leader (and) she lives in a far village and weíve tried and tried to explain it to her. So she started watching the film and in 17 minutes she said 'turn it off so.' The son-in-law turned it off and she said 'you never told me that your God made my god' and tears are rolling down her face. She accepted the Lord and walked out of the hospital the next day. I mean God gave her a complete healing (in) body, soul and spirit, and sheís now out telling people about Jesus."
One of the things Miller said the project learned, demonstrated through this story, is that he had tried to tell her the Gospel, but he had been using the New Testament type of presentation that heíd always learned, which was introduced to him.
"Heíd never started from the beginning," said Miller. "We have Buddhists and Hindus that will say when you start from the beginning of Creation and the Fall theyíd say 'nobody ever told me this before' because we know by the Bible that everybody knows thereís a Creator God, and when you start with Jesus heís not as connected to the Creator as when you start at the beginning of the Bible."
Miller was asked about how the project was set up.
"Itís a non-profit organization -- we have just a headquarters of a few people in Hemet (Califormia). Actually itís amazing; I say we have a big God because people all over the world will contact us and say 'I saw Godís Story and in such and such a language maybe a trade language and we have to have it for our people.' So they will partner with us; sometimes itís nationals that weíre working with, sometimes itís missionaries, and we work in partnership with them. So they do the translation and the recording -- we show them how to do it -- and then we do the production in Hemet. So with a small group, a nucleus, non-profit all volunteer organization, we would covet your prayers because weíre probably the bottleneck in the whole process not being able to even field the interest because of whatís happening (as a result of the project). People, even after they learn all the stories in Godís Story, theyíre asking for more stories; so weíre now adding 66 recorded Bible stories in various languages and putting them on the solar players and giving more information to people in (different) languages."
As the original writer of this project, how did Miller then take it from involvement as the writer to developing the God's Story ministry?
"What happened was the film company -- Jeremiah Films and Pat Matrisciana -- had the idea of putting it in various world languages, but nothing happened: it just sat for a few years and their ministry was quite a bit different than that. It wasnít a world evangelistic type and discipling ministry. So they didnít know who else to ask, so they came back to me and they said 'would you head up the Godís Story project.' And it was just on a piece of paper, but I had a love for it. It was sort of being asked to nurse Moses when he was a baby; 'Sure Iíll do it, I love this child.' I told them I didnít know how, but with Godís help we could do it and the Lord just brought wonderful people into our lives at Good Shepherd Ministries that translates into different languages different programs, really you have to attribute it to God. Thereís no other explanation for can anything good come out of Hemet?"
Miller said the project was first translated into Spanish, then Russian and then Mandarin.
"So we started on the trade languages, and now weíve gotten to Bambara, Susu, Wolof and Malayalam all languages that maybe people havenít heard of except the people that speak that language; thatís how they have to hear about God," she said.
Wooding commented: "As you know Iím an African American, born in Nigeria and Iím fascinated with anyone who tries to reach the land of my birth. I didnít live very long in Nigeria, my parents spoke Hausa, I have a Hausa name by the way which is Danjuma, which means son of Friday. Tell us what youíre doing in Nigeria?"
"When we went to Amsterdam 2000 the Billy Graham Association invited us to go there and show eight languages versions of Godís Story. We met a lot of nationals and one of them was the secretary of NEMA, the Nigerian Evangelical Mission Association and he saw what this could do to reach his people. So he has helped us do 11 languages of Nigeria alone and we have a number of others done for West Africa.
"Itís penetrating these northern Muslim areas where nothing else will and Muslims absolutely come to the Lord when they see the whole story laid out. Weíve just again made a mistake by starting with the end of the story. Somebody told me the story of going to a film and watching in a movie theater and he couldnít figure out what was going on. He asked his friend and pretty soon the whole theater was buzzing about what was going on and finally the projectionist stopped the film and put on the first reel.
"So people watching the second reel couldnít follow it, but if we lead with the New Testament all the time and people donít know the foundation thereís that same confusion. So weíre seeing Arab World Ministries reports from their workers that God's Story is the most powerful tool they have. A speaker recently at a Calvary Chapel pastorís conference said heíd planted a hundred underground churches in Iran in the last year and he had largely used Godís Story."
How is God's Story shown to people?
"Everything from giant stadiums in Mexico City, where thousands were saved, to a little home showing, or one-on-one, or (just) the audio --it is just so versatile. Thereís a guy in a Muslim country that gives it to bus drivers and they have TVv sets on it and they play it in the TV sets while people are riding around in this totally Muslim country; nobodyís figured it out whatís going on. Again audio or video, and also when we partner with people they have the master tapes so then they duplicate it. So I have no idea how many copies have gone out. We ship out copies, but in the local places where theyíre produced I tell people we do 'jillions.' "
Miller told Wooding of one incident involving showing the video.
"Our director does a lot of traveling around on the trains in India and several weeks ago he got on this train, we couldnít afford to fly him to the next place so he had to take this long train ride, and as it turned out there were two unruly boys and three Hindus in the little car with him. So he picked up this little solar player and was listening to it -- and he knows what heís doing -- and the people say what is that? Is that a radio? He said no. Well the boys said let me hear that. So the boys started listening to it and listened to the whole 80 minutes and before the two-day train ride was over three Hindus and the two young boys accepted the Lord. That happened a while back when he was on a train ride and it was a Hindu priest who was going to New Delhi to speak and he lectured our leader for an hour-and-a-half all about Hinduism. Our leader just kind of sat there. His name is Mark (and He is) real quiet. Then Mark said 'do you know who the creator God is?' And the priest said 'no I donít know that.' So Mark started telling him, played part of Godís Story and the guy not only listened he got on his knees in the train car, accepted the Lord left the compartment, went to the washroom, took off his Hindu robes, came back in street clothes picked up a cell phone and called the place in New Delhi where he was going to speak and said 'Iím canceling, I canít do that.' So heís now being discipled."
Miller went on to describe other stories about the video.
"I may not name all the nations. For instance, one recently that I donít want to name the country, an evangelist had one of these solar players and he played Godís Story in the personís language and it was a Buddhist monk he was playing it for. The Buddhist monk said 'I have to have that! I have to have that machine! I have to have that!' So the evangelist gave it to him and the monk took it back to the monastery, broadcast it on the PA system and afterwards 30 monks said 'This is true! This is what we want to believe,' and thatís just in one Buddhist country."
Miller told the story of a brick maker in Nepal. "He listened to the Godís Story in Nepalese and he and his family accepted the Lord and they begged to have the player for a week. Within one week, nine families came to the Lord and within six weeks I think there were 40 some public baptisms and these were Hindus, so to be publicly baptized is a commitment. Then they had to go back to their villages because the brick makers come down to the valleys to make the bricks and then they go back to the Himalayas where they live. They asked for four players and they took them back and inside of three months there were ten house churches based on the stories in Godís Story. Thatís all they had, thereís no other believers there. So they listen to the story and pray and ask God what they should do."
|God's Story DVD BackPack Units.|
"But in many of these countries that you work in Dorothy that is a huge deal. In a way youíve managed to capture so many people in these countries. Explain to us why people are so attracted even just to the technology to start with?" Wooding asked.
Miller replied: "We figured out kind of early that we were in trouble making a video of the Bible to reach the most remote places in the world when people didnít have VCRs or any way to play them. So we started out with solar powered evangelistís backpacks where weíd put a DVD player and it was solar powered. But then you know itís just under $500 for that and thatís a good investment, when one man goes village to village.
"To discover these players made in Israel at $45 to have three languages of Godís Story -- sometimes weíll put a New Testament on if it happens to be available in a trade language or the peopleís language -- means that a man whoís not even literate can hear the words of God (and) can go over the far reaches of the hill where no outsider could ever go and he doesnít have to do a world view study to get there because theyíre his people, or theyíre kin to his people, and we find thatís so wonderful.
"As I say, God did a world view study when he wrote the Bible," said Miller. "Whatever story you use, the Holy Spirit will take the words of that story and speak to the hearts of the people. Thatís what weíre finding right now in the current six week period weíre doing in eleven countries including South Africa training people in inductive Bible study, oral style, with these added 66 stories, training people how to listen to the story, trust that God can tell a good story, learn how to frame questions and ask questions of the people so itís interactive -- like the rabbis did like Jesus did when Heíd tell a story and then ask questions; and weíre finding that in Sudan, Uganda and Kenya, and in South Africa, and itís being done right now in Ghana, where weíre following up Godís Story with these 66 stories. Pastors can grab ahold of it. They have learned the Western way of literacy dissecting information and theyíre going back to using the whole story thatís in there rather than topical, and people are getting it. Before, they would listen and they would walk outside the building and say 'I donít know what I just heard but I was at church.' Now they can take the story and they can tell their families and they witness using the stories of the Bible."
Does Miller find that a lot of the Muslims who see Godís Story find their whole idea of Christianity is transformed?
"Thatís an acute observation you made there and itís so key. We had a man come recently who was hired by the Southern Baptists for two years to teach how to reach Muslims and heís originally from Baghdad and he was a Muslim. Since he came to the Lord heís now teaching people how to reach Muslims. He came to our headquarters and got a couple copies of the Kurdish Sorani Godís Story and was kind of doing friendship evangelism with some Muslims who came to his home every Thursday. Just on a whim, he put on Godís Story and started playing it in Kurdish Sorani for them and there were five adults there. After 12 minutes they said 'Turn it off. This sounds familiar.' So he turned it off and they said 'We knew what weíd heard in Islam wasnít accurate but we didnít understand Christianity -- we didnít know what it was about and this is what we want to follow; we understand this.' When we started the story Jesus is allowed to be called a prophet. Muslims know theyíve heard of Abraham, theyíve heard of Moses, so when you spend time with familiar people but tell the truth, the Holy Spirit is able to penetrate these hardest of hearts (when) theyíre in bondage. The Muslims are in darkness and in bondage; they just need to know Jesus; they need to know, to connect to the creator God. In Psalm 19and Romans chapter one (the Bible) says that everyone knows thereís a Creator God, so we just say who He is."
Miller gave the web address for those who are interested in getting more information and further details on how can they get involved in supporting the ministry.
You may log-on to www.movieofthebible.com which will take you to the Godís Story site or you could call 877-99-bible (877-992-4253).
Miller concluded: "You could call and we could give you more information or send you a package to tell you about Godís Story. We covet your prayers because thatís why this can happen with a small group with a big God. Itís the Body of Christ working together. Use it in the US: in one-in-six homes English is not the mother tongue. (This is a) mission field on our doorstep. So if you were supposed to go to the mission field and you didnít, Godís given you a second chance!
"When you go to the convenience store and itís not convenient any more because somebody canít understand what youíre saying then have a copy of Godís Story with you theyíll will understand. Let God speak to them."
**ASSIST News would like to thank Robin Frost for transcribing this article.
|** Michael Ireland is an international British freelance journalist. A former reporter with a London newspaper, Michael is the Chief Correspondent for ASSIST News Service of Lake Forest, California. Michael immigrated to the United States in 1982 and became a US citizen in September, 1995. He is married with two children. Michael has also been a frequent contributor to UCB Europe, a British Christian radio station.|