In 2010, shortly after I was hired at Jews for Jesus, I was introduced to a script for a film about our work in Israel. I had mixed emotions about the film and had no idea what the end product would become. So I was assigned to work with Herb and Amy Kossover and was given an amazing opportunity to be the line producer for this project. Cool Right?
The film would dive into the life in the day of a Jews for Jesus missionary in Israel on the Behold Your God campaign. The film starts with a statistic that was taken from a survey done in 2004. ”Only one-tenth of one percent of Israeli Jews Know Jesus – the rest don’t even know his name.” This data is accurate based on the questions asked on the survey. Now some Israels do know a little about Jesus, but they got his name wrong. They call him Yshu, which is an acronym given by the rabbis which means “may his name and memory be blotted out.” Interesting right, so from Jews for Jesus’ stance the Jesus that the Israeli people have heard about is not the same Jesus that the Bible speaks of, therefore, this statistic is very accurate to make this declaration. The film takes us through a 24 hour period and we get to meet some of the volunteers. The volunteers are both Jewish and Gentile Believers from all around the world who have made sharing the Gospel their highest priority during these weeks. We follow them into the streets of Israel and get to see first hand interactions with the people through several techniques such as, pamphlets, banners, t-shirts, phone calls, and one-on-one meetings. The heart of the volunteers is to bring hope to these people. The film takes a turn when the opposition is introduced. They are the neighborhood religious police. They have a very interesting method of name calling, yelling, and sometimes physical violence that they use to try and scare off the campaigners. Good thing Israel is a “free” country right, well sort of. Freedom of speech does not stop people from trying to stab you with a screwdriver. The best part of the film are the two stories of Israelis who were seeking truth and began to read the Bible. God opened their eyes to see and they have taken steps of faith to accept Yeshua as their Messiah.
When I arrived in Israel a day before the rest of the crew it was during the last week of campaign so everybody was already tired and there was no one there to pick me up from the airport and I had a rather large backpack full of gear. I did not have a phone that would work in Israel and I had no phone numbers, but these things don’t bother me. In my last email I was told to take the train to the Baptist Village. No detail like what stop, what time, how much, or anything was given to me. So the song from the Hobbit began in my head “The greatest adventure is what lies ahead.” Anyways I look at the icons that show me where to go to the train and sure enough I made it. I had no idea what train I was suppose to take, so I asked a guy standing on the platform if he knew where the Baptist Village was. He abruptly replied “Why do you want to go there?” I said ignoring his question and assuming he knew based on his response, “So how do I get there.” He told me he was going the same way and that I should follow him. I felt uncertain but confident that I could take care of myself in case something went down.
I noticed the man had a conference badge from Pennsylvania and I asked him where he was coming from. He told me he was at a teachers conference in the states. he asked me why I was there. I told him I was producing a film about Jews who believe that Jesus is the messiah. He was now interested, and asked me to tell him about Jesus. So for 30 minutes waiting for the train I presented the Gospel and he listened. He told me he had never heard it from a messianic point of view and that it makes sense. I got his contact and told him he could get a free Hebrew new testament. He told me he already had one and would read it. The train approached and he told me where to get off. Cool right?
I get off the train like 18 stops later and I am in the middle of nowhere. I ask person after person for directions but no one has heard of the Baptist Village. I had been there the previous year but it was in a car and I was following the person in front of me. I tried to think back and remember some sort of landmark, nothing came to mind. So I began to walk along the road. I walked across the highway and the first group of signs I see is covered in Hebrew except for one very small sign that said Baptist Village with an arrow pointing straight ahead. So I walked. 4-5 miles later I arrived but no one was there and the place seemed deserted. I went to the office door and knocked, the lights were out and the door was locked. After an hour of looking around, I saw a person in a golf card driving towards me in the distance. She was able to help me and in fact had been expecting me… So she lets me in my room and I ask her when will the others be arriving and she has no idea. She gives me her number in case I have a question. So, much later people get back and it turns out that this was there day off. Great now I am slightly irritated but I quickly let it go.
The next day I decide I need to be much more direct because nobody seems to hear you if you are not. So Bam, I tell the leader of the campaign that where ever he goes I must go as well. So after putting on this attitude everything goes very well and I get a full day of footage and create an update video for everyone back in the states to see progress. The film crew gets in a day later and I become the get er done guy who makes it happen. This happened to be my super power so good match for me.
Filming is going great we had a few snags early on that we were able to settle and things were happening. The most interesting day was on the last day of campaign. The film crew had not been able to capture any hostility on camera so we were hoping that our Anti-missionary buddy would show up. We later named Darth Helmet, because he always wore his scooter helmet while he yelled at us. So Darth Helmet and a few of his cronies quickly begin to stir up the crowd while all the volunteers are having a silent march down the street. Wow! So intense. I had talked to the film crew about this happening and to stand their ground but not to react. At one point one of the cameras was attacked by a guy with the biggest uni-brow I have ever seen. So we began to slowly withdraw and disperse.
It was a good day, we got everything we needed to make this film happen and nobody died…
So now I have been marketing this film for the last year and more and we have won several film festivals and have gotten over 46,000 views on the trailer. Things are looking good for the film.
If you haven’t gotten a chance to see it yet you can rent it on amazon.com