“Behind the Scenes of Our Animated Film: “Retelling the Good Story”

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Having grown up on the Navajo reservation, Donnie Begay began to wonder about the world and his place in it.

Attending church at a young age helped him answer the questions about God and Jesus. As a Navajo, he understood his identity was tied to his family, his people, and the land, which led to a greater understanding of how he relates to the Creator.

While in college, he noticed there was little to no spiritual outreach or means to build relationships with Native American students on campus. Donnie had been taught to always help his people, and that included other Native people, so he decided to help bridge the gap between American Christianity and Native nations.

Donnie and his wife, Renee, serve with Nations to help students meet “Creator Sets Free” (the First Nations Version Bible translation for Jesus) and know how Jesus wants to help them be rightly connected and related to the Creator in light of their cultural context.

Recently, Donnie has served as a cultural consultant on an upcoming animated project here at Jesus Film Project, a short film series called “Retelling the Good Story,” available for streaming on August 11. The series recounts the biblical stories of Jesus feeding the 5,000 and walking on water in a way contextualized for Native American viewers.

Donnie says that he and his wife look forward to being able to use these animated stories for ministry.

“Having a video like this will be a great way to share the story of Jesus in a culturally relevant way. The story of Jesus has had a deep impact on our lives, and we hope this would be true of other Native people who watch the video,” he shares.

“Retelling the Good Story” has been produced in close partnership with the First Nations Version of the New Testament, a project led by Terry Wildman that is seeking to bring the gospel to Native American people in their heart language.

This hope -that someone would more clearly understand the love of Jesus as they hear Him speak their language – is a mission close to our own hearts here at Jesus Film Project.

Throughout production, our creators have worked closely with Donnie and Terry to ensure theological and cultural accuracy.

Terry describes the importance of having a high regard for culture and the highest regard for Scripture. In creating the First Nations Version, he worked with a team of reviewers and an experienced consultant who pressed into each verse, asking questions to make sure the meaning of the original Greek was conveyed.

This pursuit of maintaining theological integrity while making critical connections with a culture is all part of contextualizing the gospel.

It’s something that our creators carefully consider with each new contextualized film we produce, from more than 1,900 language versions of the “JESUS” film to this new animated series, “Retelling the Good Story.”

And like all of our contextualized works, we are praying that this series will help break down barriers and bring people closer to the gospel -people who don’t yet know that the gospel is for them, that Jesus truly speaks their heart language.

Terry hopes that the films spark an interest in the person of Jesus.

He shares, “My hope for anyone who sees this film is that it will raise people’s curiosity. For Native people … I want Native people to be curious about who Jesus is. Who is this Man who could walk on water?”

Check out the video below to hear Donnie and Terry share more about “Retelling the Good Story.” You can stream “Retelling the Good Story” on August 11 on our YouTube channel and right here on jesusfilm.org.