"I love to tell the story,
Twill be my theme in glory,
To tell the old, old, story,
Of Jesus and His love."
– Alan Jackson
Jesus's death, burial, and resurrection—the 2,000-year-old story that is changing hearts and lives every day. Each of us brings a unique lens to the "old, old, story" as together we gaze on the glory that is Jesus's sacrifice on our behalf.
Elizabeth Schenkel, a leading voice in Jesus Film Project®, screenwriter of the "Rivka" series, and executive producer of the newly released animated short film "Chosen Witness," brings the richness of her life in missions and ministry to each product she creates. I had the privilege of hearing her reflections on the Easter story and how that shaped her latest Jesus Film Project product.
Holly: Elizabeth, your heart for those who have never heard of Jesus's love is an inspiration to so many of us. When did you first realize the power of Jesus could change lives?
Elizabeth: God first demonstrated His power to me when He began to change my mother's life. Her struggle with mental illness had alienated me from my family and the church when I was a teenager. I remember the first time she called me after her life had been dramatically changed by Jesus. I knew something had happened before she even told me. Her voice sounded different. She sounded free. I came to faith just a few months later. Although her struggle continued after that first touch, it was of a different magnitude. She walked progressively into health and wholeness and I am forever grateful to have been a witness of her transformation. To this day when I think of her, I have to pause and reflect on the greatness of our God!
Holly: Jesus took special care to elevate women and children while He was here on earth. You have the same passion. What fuels your passion?
Elizabeth: I have been privileged to live and work in a number of countries and cultures around the world. In each place I have gotten to know extraordinary women and men. The thought of those dedicated servants of Jesus, having witnessed their compassion, their commitment, and their sacrifice to bring the good news to their people continues to motivate me. During this season of my life, I want to create the best possible tools for them, tools that accelerate their mission and expand their audience. I love bringing together the extraordinary generosity of American believers, and our Jesus Film donors, with the extraordinary courage of my sisters and brothers serving God in difficult places. Together, we can change the world!
Holly: Your latest project, "Chosen Witness," is a unique look at the Easter story—tell us about it.
Elizabeth: How much time do you have? This is a wonderful project! We are working with two superstars in the world of animation, Barry Cook, the director of Disney's animated "Mulan," and Dom Carola, special effects director of Disney's animated "Aladdin." Together with their talented animators they have created a vivid nine-minute film about Jesus's ministry, death, and resurrection, from Mary Magdalene's perspective. Isn't it amazing that God chose Mary, a woman, to be the first witness, His "Chosen Witness," to Christ's resurrection! The film takes you to first century Palestine, with an authentic cast, a rich physical environment, and a moving original musical score. You have to see it! "Chosen Witness" allows anyone to share the substance of the good news in just nine minutes!
Holly: It's been a wild year! What encouragement do you have for the Jesus Film community during this extraordinary season for the church and the world?
Elizabeth: Our God is a Redeemer! He takes everything, the good, the bad, the ugly, and turns it all for good. I would encourage everyone to step back for a moment, take a deep breath, and ask God to open your eyes to what He is doing during this challenging time. We are seeing greater responsiveness on the part of people whom we would normally expect to be closed to the gospel because of the pandemic. God is at work. We just need to discover what He is up to and join Him in His work! He is not fretting or panicked and on the other hand, His compassion and understanding for our suffering and the suffering of those we want to reach is breathtaking. There has never been a better time to be alive and serving God than right now!
Thank you, Elizabeth, for the reminder that people everywhere are seeking Jesus and finding Him—resurrected and ready to welcome them. "Chosen Witness," premiering soon on the Jesus Film Project app and in our film library, is a great way to share the good news of Easter with a watching, waiting world.