Many years ago I began what has become a Christmas tradition: offering, as a gift to our active members, a book that has been meaningful in my Christian life. I do this to express appreciation for your support. Without loyal readers, we could not have served the body of Christ these past 30-plus years.
This year, I’ve selected I Just Saw Jesus by our friend Paul Eshleman. In this book, Paul recounts behind-the-scenes accounts of how the JESUS film got made as well as exciting (and often humorous) stories of taking the film for showings to remote places around the world.
Susie and I trust this book will be another avenue God uses to excite you about investing in Jesus’ Great Commission where He tells us to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).
On behalf of the SMI staff and all the Pryor family, may you have a spiritually fulfilling celebration of Christ’s first coming as you rejoice in our Savior. Merry Christmas!
See the details below this excerpt to find out how you can receive your free copy of I Just Saw Jesus.
I looked around me at the Maasai, feeling as if I had been transported into another space and time. Nothing had changed for these people in hundreds of years. Their faces smeared with red ocher, the spears they carried were the same as those their grandfathers used to kill lions and to dispose of enemies who invaded their territory....
We went to work, setting up the portable screen and projector in the center of the circle of huts. The cattle wandered over, poking into the edges of our equipment as we hauled in the generator and pipes for the screen. We picked our way around as carefully as possible — the ground was covered with layers of cow dung. The Maasai use it with sticks to build their huts.
Before long everything was set up and running. In the flickering light of the projector, I looked around me. The people were drawn into the motion picture on the big white screen in the circle of cow-dung huts.
To field-test JESUS in Africa, we had shown the film to different groups of students. They assumed the people on the screen were the actual people written about in Scripture and expressed surprise that this movie had been made two thousand years ago. We learned that certain things needed to be explained before the film began. “Why do you call Jesus the Son of God if God never had a wife?” “Why did Jesus send the evil spirits from the demon-possessed boy into the pigs and ruin the pig farmers’ business?” “Who did they kill when they were making the movie?” Endless questions, but each one gave us the opportunity to be prepared with answers we would need when we took the film to untouched places.
These backward people, frozen in time, unchanged in thousands of years, watched the first film in history to be translated into the Maasai language. For the first time in their lives, they were hearing the message of God’s love for them.
My thoughts were interrupted with the sputtering of the projector. It sparked and then went dead. I looked over at Jim, my friend and fellow staff member, and he smiled.
“You ready to preach?” he asked.
“You’re not serious.”
His smile broadened as he informed one of our interpreters that I was going to speak.
What would I talk about? I wondered during the 35 seconds I had to prepare. What do they know about Jesus and God? Probably nothing. The Bible? They have never heard of it.
Then I found myself with an interpreter at my side while everyone waited. The giant African moon bathed the one hundred or so upturned Maasai faces with a gentle light, giving them a silvered beauty.
“I have come tonight to tell you about the greatest God in the universe and His Son, Jesus. The God I speak of created this world. He made the grass, the animals, and all cattle. He is the most powerful Person in the universe. He will live forever; He lives now in a great home beyond the sky, and He cares about you and me.
“Men have always wondered what God looked like. They wondered if He was a good spirit or an evil spirit. They wanted to know what God was like, but they did not know how to find Him.
“Until one day God decided to send His Son into the world to show men what the one, true, and most powerful God was like. The name of His Son is Jesus. The film we were showing you is about Jesus, God’s Son. We will fix the machine and show you the story of His life another night.
“The Great God has said that only people who are perfect can live beyond the sky with Him forever. We are not perfect. We want things that belong to others. We steal cattle. We steal someone else’s knife or spear — but Jesus makes it possible for us to be with God. Tomorrow we will explain how Jesus can get God to accept us even though we have done bad things.”
It was a beginning, but I realized how much I took for granted. I saw, too, how the film explained it all so much quicker and clearer than I ever could....
We were not in Africa by accident. The remarkable film JESUS we were using was not just a “lucky break” for the heathen in this particular area. What was happening here in Maasailand was being repeated all over the world.
Book Offer Details
This offer is for active SMI members only. To receive your gift copy of I Just Saw Jesus, send your request (no phone calls or emails, please) to:
Christmas Gift Book
Sound Mind Investing
9700 Park Plaza Ave
Louisville KY 40241-2287
Your envelope must be postmarked no later than December 20, 2022. You should receive your gift book by the end of January. (Please don’t request this gift copy unless you are committed to reading it — the cost of sending out hundreds of books is substantial.) You should receive your book by the end of January.