Anne Weaver sat transfixed by the photographs in front of her. Men on motorcycles hauled a projector, a portable screen and a 16-millimeter film called JESUS through a rugged mountain range. "When I saw those pictures," Anne said, "I remember saying to the Lord, 'If someday I could sponsor a JESUS film team, I'd love to do that.'"
Two decades later, she got her chance. Anne discovered an audiotape about an Arizona pastor whose church had funded a translation of the JESUS film -- a biblical account of Christ's life and teachings translated into over 1,000 languages and seen by more than 5 billion people worldwide.
She carried the 10-minute tape in her purse for months, pulling it out and playing it for mission-board members at every opportunity.
One day she stopped by Faith Missionary Church in Indianapolis to talk to her pastor, Dave Baldwin. She fished the tape out of her purse and sat watching Dave's face as he listened.
When Dave said it was an answer to prayer, Anne got choked up.
"Our mission chairman says that any idea without a champion is just an idea," Dave explains. "Anne was that champion. We had been praying for one for over two years, and there she was."
Soon, Dave e-mailed Bill and Lee, a couple from Faith Missionary Church who had labored for 30 years over a Bible translation for a remote people group in the Philippines. Dave told them that the church wanted to sponsor a JESUS film translation for the language spoken by 100,000 people in their region.
Bill and Lee had been longing for a film about Christ in the language of their adopted people group. "It was like God was saying, This is what I'm doing for your people," Bill said.
Less than a year later, the film premiered on the basketball court at the center of a small village near Bill and Lee's home. Word had spread down the coast and throughout the surrounding hills, and as night fell, about 3,000 fishermen, coconut farmers and teachers left their thatched huts to swarm the plaza area.
Everyone stood for hours, and after watching the film, hundreds of children and adults crowded around the 60 trained counselors, clamoring to know more about Jesus. That night, 200 adults signified commitments to follow Christ.
Later, an audio version of the film was recorded for radio broadcast. Local JESUS film workers called together 60 local pastors to strategize about how to show the film to the whole region.
"There's so much that can happen once you get the ball rolling," Anne says. "I believe this is just the beginning. It's so important to enable people to hear the gospel in their own mother tongue. I don't think that can be overstated. I've heard so many stories of people who've heard the gospel, but not in their own mother tongue. But then when they hear it in their own language, they respond."