Video stories bring Bible to new audience
Long-time communicators Paul Wynn and Doug Keesey have partnered with churches and ministries to produce videos that tell what God is doing in a particular place. Their new initiative, oneMESSAGE.tv, is aiming at an even wider goal. They’re creating videos they hope will have long-lasting gospel implications around the world.
In 2019, they turned a remote village in Colombia into a movie set. With villagers serving as the actors, Wynn and Keesey filmed Bible stories in a language that doesn’t have a written translation of Scripture. Their goal: to create a way for missionaries to communicate God’s Word with people who haven’t heard it before. And they’re hearing it in their own voices.
Wynn and Keesey officially launched oneMESSAGE.tv in 2019, but the project started years ago when Wynn’s church contacted the International Mission Board about praying for an unreached people group. The Georgia church got connected with a people group in Colombia, and eventually started taking trips to work with missionaries in the region. Those trips led to another people group, one that had been pushed into refugee centers amid the country’s civil war.
Before one of their trips, the missionary in Colombia asked the visiting group about their areas of expertise. Wynn and two others had experience in video, so the missionary devised a plan where they would create Bible stories using children from the refugee center as actors. The story would be narrated in the indigenous language. The team filmed the stories of the Good Samaritan and Zacchaeus and distributed them on DVD to the parents.
“This is the first time they’ve ever seen a video of any kind in their own language,” Wynn remembered thinking. Through video, the team was able to deliver something previously impossible—a portion of Scripture in a language that would take years to create in a written format.
In September 2019, Wynn and Keesey went back to Colombia to shoot 10 Bible stories for a people group of 30,000. Fewer than 2% know Christ. They partner with two missionary families who will distribute the stories largely through a texting app.
Before each shoot, the missionary told the story in entirety. Actors from the people group then acted out the story, and narration in the indigenous language was added later. Wynn said they selected stories that speak specifically to the people group’s current belief system, based largely on animism. The team shot stories from the Old Testament, including Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, and the Israelites’ worship of the Golden Calf. They also filmed from the New Testament, including Jesus’ birth, resurrection, and ascension.
Shortly after the trip, new restrictions in the village where they worked blocked non-indigenous religious groups from coming into the village.
“It just reinforces the idea that when we have opportunities to go and share in whatever way, we need to seize on those opportunities, quickly,” Wynn said.
In 2020, they hope to create libraries of Bible stories for three more people groups, possibly working again in Colombia and in Kenya.
Their overall goal is a big one, considering the 3,200 unreached people groups around the world, most of whom are oral learners. Wynn said, “At oneMESSAGE, we want to help everyday believers reach those 3,200 groups.”