What would it take? Would it take falling off your horse to turn you in another direction or just watching a good movie?
In my 15 years with Jesus Film Project®, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a lot of people who've been touched by our films in one way or another. Many times, God used it to start a transformation in even the hardest hearts. Take this story, for instance:
Rafid was the kind of Muslim who made it his mission to hunt down those in Bangladesh who claimed to follow Christ. He would threaten them with violence or jail until they either left town or renounced their faith.
At one point, Rafid angrily approached a church planter named Mahbeer. He heard Mahbeer share how all people are sinners, and only Jesus can clear us from this shame.
"Stop entering our villages trying to convert my people!" Rafid yelled. "Why are you sharing false religion? We never want to see you here again."
Mahbeer was used to this sort of response. He knew he could be imprisoned or even put to death, but he refused to stop sharing Christ. So Rafid continued to spy on him and watch for any reason to accuse Mahbeer.
One day, during another of Rafid's raging rants, Mahbeer handed Rafid a DVD of our film, "JESUS." He said he'd gladly answer any questions after Rafid watched the film.
Now I'm not sure how long it took for Rafid to finally decide he would accept the gift from Mahbeer and watch the film, but eventually he did. And afterward, believe it not, he returned to Mabeer and had a civilized conversation with him, asking about who Jesus was.
During their discussion, Mahbeer shared the gospel with Rafid, declaring that Jesus is the only way to God.
We don't always get all the details to stories we receive from the field, so I don't know how long it took for Rafid's heart to be softened. But he believed and gave his life to Christ during that conversation.
So Rafid became a Christian and immediately stopped persecuting believers. Everyone who knew Rafid, could tell the difference. He was transformed. He began sharing his new faith in Christ with others. Now his whole family follows Christ.
Wow, I love this story!
You know, Rafid reminds me of Saul in the New Testament. Both Rafid and Saul had a misdirected passion for their beliefs and what they thought was a noble cause. They wanted to protect their people from hearing the message of Jesus, only to discover this Good News, this truth they were fighting against, was exactly what they needed.
Both men had an encounter with Jesus. The book of Acts, Chapter 9, tells us Saul was thrown from his horse and temporarily blinded. Rafid simply watched a DVD.
Yet both heard Jesus speak to them in their mother tongue. With Saul, it was face to face; with Rafid, it was through an actor and some state-of-the-art dubbing in our film "JESUS."
Saul was transformed and started going by the name Paul. Rafid too was changed, sharing his faith with his Muslim friends and becoming a church planter.
I too, have been transformed by Christ working in me. I didn't have to get knocked off a horse or get my name changed, but Jesus gave me a reboot just the same.
How about you? How has Jesus given you a do-over? You can view "Venia," a short film by Jesus Film Project that shows a powerful example of forgiveness between a father and son. Share your story about experiencing true forgiveness in the comments below.