Contributing to the gospel’s spread is so rewarding. It’s gratifying to know that you’re contributing to the fulfillment of the Great Commission. But one particularly edifying byproduct of evangelism is witnessing the impact the gospel has on people’s lives.
All over the world, people experience freedom and healing when they discover Jesus. Hearing these stories is so inspiring, uplifting, and motivating. And we want you to be encouraged, too, so we’ve compiled some of our favorite stories of lives changed from exposure to Jesus through various Jesus Film Project® media. These stories come to us through partners, people involved in Jesus Film Mission Trips, and others who are out bringing Christ to the world.
Some of these stories are a little scant on details and names have been changed to protect the privacy and, in some cases, even the personal safety of subjects.
Christian stories from Africa
Africa is a huge continent with 54 recognized nations and a large number of remote and unrecognized people groups. The following stories come from this amazing and beautiful land.
A widow discovers God’s love
Jartu lives in the African country of Sierra Leone, and she was totally dependent upon her husband’s provision. When he died, she struggled to meet basic daily needs. In many countries, widows are often devalued, ignored—even cast out of society.
Thankfully, Jartu has a kind neighbor who invited her to watch the “JESUS” film. The film team showed the film in her village several nights in a row.
In the film, Jartu witnessed Jesus’ love, His compassion, and His care for everyone’s needs. “I realized how my neighbor was Christ’s hands and feet to me, helping me in my time of need, even though I was from another religious group.”
After watching the “JESUS” film several nights in a row, Jartu knew she wanted to accept Jesus into her heart. Now she’s attending church and discipleship classes to learn more about God.
Finding Jesus behind prison walls
A woman serving a seven-year term in a North African prison for killing her husband watched Magdalena. The Holy Spirit used the movie to touch her heart, and she accepted Jesus as her Savior. She began to pray for her family, especially that her children and her husband’s relatives would forgive her. The Lord answered her prayers—she has received their forgiveness! Although still in prison, she uses the time to share her testimony and extend God’s love to others.
A brand-new hope
Philip and his team strolled along the outskirts of the village. This was their first visit to the area and they prayed, asking God to prepare the hearts of the people they’d soon be meeting.
A few days later, the ministry team returned to complete the first step of the Multiplying Churches and Communities (MC2) strategy: evangelism. After the sun set that evening, they showed the “JESUS” film.
A women named Ayodele cried uncontrollably as she watched the film. Life had been difficult for her. Her husband had abandoned her and planned to destroy everything they owned.
“I had plans to divorce him,” Ayodele shared with Philip.
But hearing about Jesus filled her with hope, and she gave her life to Christ. And her new life in Christ changed the way she viewed her marriage. Ayodele wanted to try to reconcile with her husband.
“I give my problems to Him,” she said. “He has given me hope to remain.”
Ayodele now hosts a Bible study in her home. Her husband has also returned home and is one of the 28 people attending the weekly Bible study.
Christian stories from Asia
According to the United Nations, there are 48 countries in Asia. And scattered throughout this region, there are quite a number of people groups that have yet to hear the gospel. Here are a few stories from this continent.
Prayers for effective evangelism
Gulloo, a worker for Cru® in Central Asia, silently prayed for the four people who were about to watch “JESUS.” He asked God to use this opportunity to draw them to Himself.
For almost a year, Cru leaders had taught Gulloo how to share the gospel using Jesus Film Project® tools and films. They had given him a digital tablet, which he used to show “JESUS” to the non-believers. From the start of the film, the group asked many questions, beginning with Adam and Eve and their banishment from Eden. One man, Elias, was sick and did not speak up until he saw the healing miracles Jesus performed.
“If I ask Him, will He heal me?” Elias asked Gulloo.
“Yes, He will heal you,” Gulloo replied.
Gulloo further explained that Jesus is alive and is our Healer. Elias and the others were encouraged. Their curiosity soared, and they began asking questions as quickly as he could answer them. After the showing, Elias asked Gulloo for a Bible! Gulloo was honored to give him one and continued to share more about Christ with him. God truly had answered his prayer.
An indigenous pastor sees a big harvest
“At first I was hesitant to show the ‘JESUS’ film to my fellow tribesman because of their pagan beliefs,” stated Pastor Timcha, an indigenous leader in a Southeast Asian nation. He continued, “But I was amazed to see the people stay until the end of the showing. There were 157 viewers, and 50 [people from his tribe] responded to the gospel message and prayed to accept Jesus into their lives.
Pastor Timcha mobilized “JESUS” film showings in two other locations and witnessed his people responding to the message about Jesus Christ through the film. The local churches that sponsored the showings were encouraged as local pastors followed up with the respondents. Although hindered by heavy rain and at one point a strong typhoon, the ministry of sharing the gospel continued to grow as 346 tribal people were added to the kingdom of God.
Prayer for healing leads to a dramatic showdown
Joseph stood before a young mother clutching her dead infant in her arms. They begged Joseph to pray to his Christian God for healing.
Joseph was no stranger to miraculous healing. When he had first heard about Jesus, he was near death. As a spiritual leader in his family’s religion, he had prayed to his own gods for healing. But while lying on his own deathbed, someone shared the story of Jesus with him, and Joseph made the decision to follow Jesus. Immediately after making that decision, Joseph got out of bed, completely healed.
Amazed by God’s work in his life, Joseph began sharing his testimony with others. Word quickly spread within his community. Some were astounded by his story and wanted to know more. Others—like his own relatives—felt betrayed and wanted him dead.
As Joseph stood before this grieving family, he knew hired thugs were on their way to kill him. Yet he still made the decision to stay and pray for this child. Before Joseph could finish speaking with the family, the door burst open. Men filed in, ready to attack Joseph. Throwing his hands up, Joseph jumped in front of the family and cried out to the men.
“If my God heals the baby and brings him back to life, you will know my God is the real God,” he told them. “And if He doesn’t, you can kill me.”
Then, Joseph prayed.
Silence. And then, the infant stirred in his mother’s arms. The tense, quiet room erupted with cries of rejoicing and disbelief.
Astounded, the men put down their weapons and turned to Joseph. “We want to know more about this God.” By the end of the evening, the men and everyone in the infant’s family decided to follow Jesus. As God would have it, these men, who came to the house that night planning to kill Joseph, ultimately started a church with him instead.
“JESUS” changes lives in a restaurant
A Southeast Asian Campus Crusade for Christ® staff member visited a restaurant where, unbeknownst to him, the owner had been showing the “JESUS” film for several years. The owner said approximately 30 people had come to Christ as a result of watching the film in their heart language. Despite the very real threat of radical groups in the town, the owner said he continues to show the film when there is no indication of danger.
A militant Muslim changes course
Rafid was a Muslim who made it his mission to hunt down those in Bangladesh who followed Christ. He would threaten them with violence or jail until they left town or renounced their faith.
At one point, Rafid angrily approached a church planter named Mahbeer.
“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.”
One day, during another of Rafid’s raging rants, Mahbeer handed Rafid a DVD of the “JESUS” film. He said he’d gladly answer any questions after Rafid watched the film. He accepted the gift from Mahbeer and watch the film. And afterward, he returned to Mabeer to ask for more information about Jesus.
During their discussion, Mahbeer shared the gospel with Rafid, declaring that Jesus is the only way to God. Rafid became a Christian and immediately stopped persecuting believers. Everyone who knew Rafid could tell he was transformed. He began sharing his new faith in Christ with others. And today, his whole family follows Christ.
A local religious leader touched by Jesus
Zeya had just finished a Friday night showing of “Magdalena” in a town where the viewers could not get enough. They were so fascinated by the film that they clamored for more! Zeya obliged, and most of the crowd stayed to watch the entire “JESUS” film as well. Many people from the crowd asked afterward how they could watch more, so Zeya handed out DVDs of both “Magdalena” and “JESUS” in the native language.
Members from a nearby family led by a matriarch named Hayma returned from work to the sound of “Magdalena.” They approached Zeya, who was standing at the back of the crowd operating the projection set, and asked him what was going on. He explained the significance of the film and then offered them free DVDs so they could watch it from the beginning. The family accepted copies of both films. Zeya smiled and said he would visit them in two days in case they had any questions.
When Zeya returned that Sunday, he asked whether the family liked the films. Hayma said they had watched them over and over again, every chance they could! Zeya beamed at this wonderful news. He began to ask the family spiritual questions.
Soon he learned Hayma was not just any follower of another religion, but a leader of the local religious association. Yet she seemed open to the messages of “Magdalena” and “JESUS.”
Finally, Zeya asked what the family thought about Christ.
“Jesus is a loving God,” Hayma said. “But I haven’t received Christ yet. We felt something like we never felt before. It is God’s love!”
Jesus changes an addict’s life
Nadia* and her husband tried for nine years to leave opium behind them. But having first tasted its effects at a young age, it was too difficult to let go. The thirst overwhelmed them, and they eventually lost contact with their family, and they fought regularly.
Ultimately, opium addiction led Nadia to murder her own husband. His death was all Nadia could think about while sitting in her prison cell. She realized she had lost everything and vowed never to touch drugs again.
When Nadia was released from prison, she had nothing and no one. She knew she could never go back to drugs, but as hard as she fought for normalcy, she broke and turned to alcohol. She loved the way it calmed her, numbed her. It provided her with a means of escape and soon became a daily habit. She allowed herself to slowly slip away, accepting her fate.
But then Nadia discovered a local rehabilitation center and admitted herself. She had no idea what was in store for her future. Nadia saw herself as an addict, an alcoholic, and a murderer, and she didn’t think her guilt would ever fade.
At the rehab center, Nadia joined a small group of patients to watch a movie. It was in this group that she saw “Magdalena: Released From Shame.” Nadia admired Jesus’s compassion toward sinners. Nadia finally saw a point to life in following Jesus. She saw how He could lift the burden of her guilt off her shoulders and how He loved her in spite of her sin. For the first time in her life, she began reading the Bible and now reads it daily as she continues to progress in her rehabilitation.
God used “Magdalena” to open Nadia’s eyes to see she is no longer an addict, an alcoholic, or a murderer. Instead, because of Christ’s redemptive work, Nadia is a child of God.
Christian stories from Europe
There are 44 countries on the continent of Europe. And even though most of them have been exposed to the gospel over the course of their long histories, there are many people today who don’t know who Jesus is. Here are some stories about changed lives throughout Europe.
Changed lives in London
Teams from the United States and other countries travel to London each summer to participate in outreaches to North African tourists and immigrants. In 2010 they distributed evangelistic packets containing a New Testament, a “Magdalena: Released From Shame” DVD, and other Christian materials. Two Hare Krishna followers approached one team member, asking her what she was doing. The volunteer shared her testimony with the two women, and one of them started to cry while the other said, “Wow! I have never heard of such a beautiful story before.”
They both wanted a DVD. When the volunteer asked if they would like to pray to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, they both said yes! She prayed with them on a London street as their lives were forever changed.
Women disciplers multiply in Europe
Marian invited everyone she could to see the “JESUS” film at her house. People young and old came because her contagious smile made them feel welcome and valued.
While the film showing was an occasion for her community to experience the gospel, it was also an opportunity for Marian to be encouraged by the Holy Spirit’s work. Her heart swelled with joy as she watched her friends and neighbors see the life of Jesus unfold. Through their tears of realization, Marian saw the start of their transformations. As they discovered Jesus and indicated decisions to follow Him, Marian’s neighbors became her brothers and sisters in Christ.
When Marian met separately with the women in small groups, they would watch “Magdalena: Released From Shame” and discuss what they learned. One of the attendees was Sveta—a woman hesitant but curious about this message of love and transformation. After Sveta came to Christ, Marian continued to encourage Sveta in her walk with Jesus.
In the first year, the women’s group grew to 10 people. As Sveta’s faith grew stronger, Marian showed her how to lead a small group of her own. Sveta learned to use Jesus Film Project® resources and started sharing the gospel with others as well. She helped lead two women to Christ through “Magdalena” and started her own follow-up group.
Meanwhile, Marian moved to another city where she continued to grow in her ministry skills. Just like her previous home, her new place soon became the hub for showings of “JESUS” and “Magdalena.” Marian also began a new small group. There she met Yana and her husband, and Marian started training Yana as a potential leader. Now the two women lead the small group together.
A retail mission field
Following a “Magdalena: Released From Shame” showing in Europe, one of the trained volunteers started a Bible study group for approximately 10 women who had accepted Christ during the showing. The volunteer owned a secondhand clothing store, so she offered for the women to meet at the shop after closing. A woman who lived near the clothing store observed the group of women coming and going from the shop. Curious, she approached the owner and asked: “What are you doing here every week with the other ladies? I noticed you have been meeting and I am interested in what it is about.”
The owner told her that they were meeting to pray and read the Bible.
“Could I join you next week?” she wondered. The owner gladly welcomed her to their group. Not only did the woman attend the Bible study, but every day she came to the shop, waited until all the customers had left, and told the owner, “I’m here because I would like you to read to me from the Bible.” God continues to use these new believers who have come to faith after watching the film to multiply themselves in incredible ways.
Refugees watch “JESUS” in Germany
Four large buses filled with food visited five refugee camps to provide a free dinner, film showing, and Old Testament Bible to anyone who was interested. Upon seeing the large crowds, the team prayed that God had provided them with enough food and free copies of the Old Testament.
Sure enough, He had!
One missionary invited five refugees the day before the event. Not only did they come, but so did 25 of their friends! Similarly, one Afghan refugee brought three of his friends to receive food.
Following dinner, the refugees watched “JESUS” and many responded emotionally to the film. As a Syrian pharmacist with teary eyes watched the film, he said, “We need this Jesus.”
A member of a dominant religion in Somalia admitted to not knowing about Jesus but he was nevertheless moved in his heart by Jesus’ love and kindness.
Elijah21’s staff and local church volunteers prayed for the salvation of every refugee in attendance.
Refugees who had accepted Christ saw how their non-believing friends were reacting as they watched the film. This inspired them to invite more Muslim friends and fellow refugees to attend other “JESUS” film showings and have a relationship with Jesus!
The missionaries were approached by many refugees wanting to exchange cell phone numbers so that they could stay in touch with the church afterward.
Christian stories from the Middle East
The Middle East is centered on Egypt, Turkey, and Western Asia. It’s generally considered an area transversing three continents. These stories come from this region.
Looking to improve English, but finding Jesus
“Islam and Christianity are pretty similar, right?” said Karim*, a Saudi man.
“Well, we have some similarities but we are actually very different,” replied Jasper. “One thing that sets us apart from other religions is that we follow the Bible’s teaching that salvation is obtained by faith alone through Jesus Christ.”
This caused Karim to ask more questions. After a long talk, Jasper convinced Karim and his girlfriend Fatima to take a free “JESUS” film and an Arabic/English New Testament.
“I will watch the film and read this Bible so I can learn better English.” Karim said.
Jasper smiled wide, knowing in his heart that this living Word of God was powerful and would do more in Karim than just help him learn a new language. Jasper prayed as Karim walked away, asking the Lord to make the Scripture come alive to Karim and Fatima and draw them to God.
Stories from closed countries
In many nations of the world, religious faith in general and Christian faith, in particular, are forbidden. In these places, evangelism is a dangerous business. Media can be used effectively in these kinds of situations because they’re available on so many kinds of devices. Consider the following stories.
Conversion in a challenging land
Sitarah* and Ghaus* became believers by listening to an audio Bible. But both were illiterate and unsure of how to share their faith. They decided to try sharing the gospel with their two adult sons. One accepted Christ, but soon after he moved away because he could not find an in-country job.
The couple then shared the gospel with their daughter Shirin. But their eldest had many difficult questions about Christianity that they could not answer.
Eventually, workers with Global Church Movements (GCM), an arm of Campus Crusade for Christ®, visited Sitarah and Ghaus’ town. So, the couple asked some of the GCM team members if they would meet with Shirin. One of the area leaders agreed. The leader shared her testimony with Shirin on a taxi ride. The interaction helped open Sitarah and Ghaus’ daughter’s heart, and she received Jesus as her Lord and Savior!
GCM leaders gave Shirin a Bible, and she quickly began devouring God’s Word, reading three of the Gospel accounts. GCM staff also trained Shirin to share the “JESUS” film with others. By the end of her training, she had used Jesus Film® media to share God’s love with seven people!
Although Sitarah, Ghaus and Shirin live in an area where Christians are heavily persecuted for their faith, God’s Word is taking root, both in their family and community.
Many Islamic men converted by “JESUS”
Tariq entered his friend’s home, welcomed by many greetings and the best seat in the house. As a Qazi (a judge of Islamic law), he expected no less. A few dozen men had gathered to watch a film, and now that the Qazi arrived, it could begin.
The film began in silence. Tariq glanced around the room. He wanted to guard their faith well, and he wondered what would come of this experience. Some strangers had come from another village, and Tariq’s friend had welcomed them into his home. They had set up this film about the life of Isa (Jesus). Tariq wasn’t sure he could trust them, but he was curious.
About 15 minutes into the movie, someone appeared on the screen Tariq never expected to see. A figure—a man—moving through the crowd and into the water. Tariq froze when he saw His face. He saw Jesus, and he couldn’t look away. He saw His miracles, His sacrifice, and His resurrection.
When one of the strangers turned off the movie, Tariq shot to his feet. Beating his chest, tears gushing from his eyes, Tariq exclaimed, “He is the man I saw in my dreams! He told me, ‘Come to me. I am your salvation.’ I have been looking for who this is for the last six years, but I never had a chance to hear about Him.”
Shaken to his bones, Tariq declared, “I am now following Him.”
That night the Qazi’s testimony influenced 44 other men to stand up and proclaim they too wanted to follow Jesus.
A run-in with police
In a closed country, a “JESUS” film team prayed and made a bold plan to give out “JESUS” DVDs, Bibles and “More Than a Carpenter” books in 35 villages. At first, they were dismayed at the lack of opportunities to distribute the materials. Then one afternoon they were stopped by police with guns drawn. As the police searched the car, they said, “Yes, these are the ones!” and brought them to the police station and confiscated the material. To the team’s surprise about an hour later, they heard sounds from upstairs—the police were watching the “JESUS” film. “Hallelujah!” the team rejoiced downstairs, but then they heard the head man come in upstairs. The sound of the film stopped. However, as soon as he left, they could hear the police resume watching the film.
The next day, the decision was made to release the team along with their materials. As the team was getting ready to leave, two policemen came up and asked if they could have a DVD. Then another policeman came to the team. “You gave a DVD to my friend, can I have one too?” Likewise, 10 other policemen did the same thing. Finally, the team was able to give out all 250 DVDs and the books to the policemen at the station.
So many stories to tell
These stories are only a drop in the bucket. Eternity will resound with the all the changed-life stories because some had a chance to experience the “JESUS” film or “Magdalena” in their heart language.
But there are so many more stories yet to be told! If you’re interested in learning more about Jesus Film Project® and how you can play a part in making stories like these a reality, check out the “how to help” page on our website!