Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Ray Albrektson's Prayer Letter

Dear Friends:

Here's a little quiz for you: What film has been seen by more people than any film in history? Obviously it is the JESUS film, with more than 5 billion viewings and translated into more than a thousand languages. A few years ago a risky decision was made to make a "special" version of the JESUS film—one created to help women connect more quickly to the gospel story. The result is Magdalena: Released from Shame.

The idea was simple: create new scenes for the existing JESUS film that focus on Jesus' relationship with women, then weave them into a cohesive whole that would require much less translation than a complete film. Magdalena was the result: a re-telling of the story of Jesus from the point of view of Mary Magdalena, who described her own journey from shame to forgiveness, and in the process, discovered her own value to God.

Where did I come in? Many months ago, I received a phone call from the film's production office. They wanted the film to be as historically accurate as possible. A group of biblical scholars had been brought on board to provide guidance on everything ranging from pottery design to furniture layout. But the production team was unable to evaluate the conflicting opinions of these scholars! My task was to review and evaluate all input and serve as the "scholarly advisor" for the project.

The result is impressive! Of course, it isn't perfect. I begged the producers to opt for "dirtier" sets and to design costumes that didn't look as though they had just come out of the wash, but to no avail. There are minor architectural errors. But at least nobody wore their Casio watch on the sets! Yes, you can find one in the original JESUS film if you know where to look.

Although it has not been released in the US, it is already making a great impact on women. In much of the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, women are treated as second-class citizens, or even property. This film seems to especially touch the hearts of women in those regions. Already we've heard amazing reports, such as the Muslim country that had banned the JESUS film but actually asked for special showings of Magdalena!

After Christmas, my travel schedule gets truly hectic. I'll be teaching in Japan (teach IBS), Guatemala (ISP conferences), and Indonesia (teach Church History in Ph. D. program) just for starters. My travel budget has been hit very hard by the shrinking dollar and rising cost of air-fare . . . please consider a special gift (payable to Campus Crusade for Christ) if you would like to help. Either mail it to me (101 Channing St., Redlands, CA 92373) or click here. Thanks for all you do--I appreciate you!
Ray & Kathy Albrektson


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