I still remember the first time I ever watched the Jesus film. I was a young boy, maybe 7 or 8. My parents had received the VHS in the mail and when I saw it laying on the counter I remember asking if I could watch it. They told me I was too young, and that there were some parts that would scare me. So, I waited. I waited for maybe a year. After that year I asked again and my parents said, “yes”.
I was so excited. It was a Friday night and my brothers were busy doing something else, so it was just me and the movie. I grabbed the VHS from our movie cabinet and put it in the player. Over the course of the next two hours I became enamored with the story of Jesus. I remember feeling the joy of the people in the movie as they met Jesus and were healed by him. I remember the growl of the different crowds that Jesus met weather they were at the sermon on the mount or at the triumphal entry. I remember the cries of Jesus as they put the nails through his hands and feet. I remember the awestruck reactions of the disciples when they saw the risen Jesus for the first time. The movie had quite an impact on me as a kid. I remember the movie finishing and there just being a sense of seriousness and peace in the room. That was the story of the Jesus whom I worshiped. It was so real to me.
As a kid I loved Jesus, but as with anything else, I had a lot to learn. As I grew and matured into a young man, I also grew and matured in my faith. By the time I reached my 19th birthday I knew that my childhood dream of being an engineer was not in fact God’s dream for my life. In the summer of 2012 God gave me a calling out of Romans 10 to carry the gospel. That same summer I took my first mission trip and I met a tribe of people called the Hadzabe. Over the course of the last four years I have watched as God has transformed the lives of many Hadzabe through His message, His Word, and His Spirit.
In January, I returned from my fourth trip to the Hadzabe. This trip was really good and we saw God do some pretty crazy things. Among those things was the fruition of an idea that was hatched an entire year earlier. While we were spending time with the Hadza in January of 2016 a middle-aged man named Seeguadzee asked if we would bring a film of the story of Jesus. He told us they had seen it once before but that it had been a long time ago and that many people didn’t get to see it at that time. So, I came home and figured out a way to bring it to them. God made a way. When we showed up again in January of 2017 I was eager to share the movie with them.
I set up the screen by tying a white sheet to the side of the vehicle we were driving. Our seating was the ground and some five-gallon plastic buckets for the elders. Our backdrop was the extremely beautiful, moon-less, star-filled, Tanzanian night sky. Everyone gathered and we watched the movie together. If you have never watched a movie with a person from a different culture, I highly recommend it. As different things happened to Jesus in the film our Hadzabe friends and family would react out loud: “ohhh” “ahh” “ehh”. At several points in the film the people would comment on how they remembered hearing that part of the story on the audio bibles that we had made. It was wonderful.
As I sat and listened I just remember feeling joyful. I watched so many people in the village that night experience the story of Jesus in technicolor for the first time. It reminded me of the first time I watched it so many years earlier. While I sat and watched, I reflected on just how different my life was. The path God had taken me on from a kid excited about the story of God to a young man now able to share that same story with a super remote group of people on the other side of the world. It was one of those moments I’ll never forget. Just realizing how good our God is.