Jesus Film Ministry
In 2013, we piloted an idea - why not use the Jesus Film not only to call people to follow Jesus Christ, but as a launch point to link them to a Bible study group where they could meet regularly, discuss the Word of God, and grow deeper in their new faith?
The idea worked!
However, the pilot was done with farmer groups that had been birthed during the time when the Acholi people lived in internally displaced people camps due to the insurgency of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). These groups were being phased out. Some groups continued regardless, but many of them ceased to exist.
Meanwhile, Pastor Donato in Pader kept asking Emmanuel International to come and show the Jesus Film in various villages. We met with him and said that we were willing to show the film, but we also saw that simply showing the film isn't enough. Traditional "hit-and-run" evangelism often results in large numbers of decisions for Christ, but the Church doesn't grow, and the people inevitably fall away for lack of nurturing. We then shared the experience from the 2013 pilot, and Pastor Donato got excited.
This is exactly what we need!
Pastor Donato said that over 300 people had indicated they desired to follow Jesus in outreaches that his church had done over the previous 2 months, but the local branch churches had barely grown in number. He said he was the only one who was going back and forth, crossing large distances on a dirt bike, to follow-up with new believers in Sunday services in remote village locations. "This is exactly what we need! More people to be trained to follow-up with new believers!" And so, the Jesus Film Outreach Ministry was officially born.
From 2016-2019, our team trained leaders from 46 churches in follow-up with new believers and oral Bible storying groups. Those leaders trained 500 other leaders in their villages. The film has been shown to roughly 13,500 people in these 46 communities, which include the Palabek camp for displaced South Sudanese refugees - with over 4,000 decisions for Christ.
In each of these communities, a thriving Bible study group has been established. The oral storying method trains each member, no matter their level of literacy, to be able to share the truths of Scripture with their neighbours and families.
Flexible Approach and a New Name
During the worst of the COVID-19 lockdown, it was impossible to gather communities for showing the Jesus Film. Once the initial group restrictions were relaxed, however, oral Bible storying groups continued. We did training in smaller groups outdoors, and communities switched from film evangelism to door-to-door evangelism to start up groups in new communities.
A global pandemic may be able to stop many things, but it cannot stop the gospel!
Film showings will likely be reintroduced in future, however COVID-19 taught us how to be flexible in our approach.