Excited About Baobab

Years ago, when I worked building homes, it was rare for anyone to ask me questions related to my job. I mean, think about it, what do you ask a guy who pounds nails for a living? “Hey, Bob, how much does your hammer weigh?” “Hey, Bob, do you prefer 2-by-12 floor joists or microlams?”

I no longer have that problem. Just being a “movie critic” means that I regularly get “work-related” questions when I’m in social settings. Apparently asking about films is more interesting than knowing what type of wood I’d rather build a wall with!

I’m sure you can imagine the type of questions I’m often asked. “Hey, Bob, is there anything playing in theaters right now I should see?” I often get inquiries about a specific film. Right now, people want to know my opinion of the new Batman v Superman flick. But maybe one of the most common questions I get is this one: “Hey, Bob, what’s your favorite film ever?”

Favorite film? That’s an easy one! The Jesus film. When they ask it, most people expect my answer to be predicated on how much I liked the acting, special effects, plot and/or box office haul. But while the Jesus film ranks as my very favorite movie by a landslide, it has nothing to do with how well I like it. For me, there’s an important reason why it ranks so high—even though it doesn’t have a lot of recognizable actors, doesn’t contain a single example of blow-me-away-CGI and never made a mint at the box office.

The Jesus film is my chosen pick because it has done more to build the kingdom of God than any other film out there. This motion picture from Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) would excite me if I knew that 10 people had become Christians because of it. But it’s way more than 10! Here’s the opening sentence from the film’s website (homepage):

Since the Jesus film was first shown 35 years ago, more than 200 million people have come to know Christ through the ministry of The Jesus Film Project. This equates to one person every 5.5 seconds.

Later in the article it reads:

From villages in the rain forest of the Amazon to high-rise apartment buildings in East Asia, the gospel is being proclaimed. Online alone, people in 220 countries watch Jesus Film evangelistic content more than 698,000 times each month (2014).

Did you catch the 200 million number? Let’s suppose though for a minute, the count is a bit inflated. I have no reason to believe it is. But let’s just assume. Divide that number in half. And then divide it in half again. Fifty million! I can get excited about 50 million! And lest I be tempted to consider another film as my all-time favorite, I just received an e-mail notifying me that the Jesus film has now been translated into Baobab. You’ve probably never heard of Baobab. Neither had I. But it’s a Tanzanian language spoken by approximately 250,000 people. With the film dubbed in Baobab, Jesus has now been translated into a whopping 1,400 different spoken languages.

The really good news is that Cru has no plans to stop at 1,400. The Cru folks plan to keep going until they’ve covered every language spoken by at least 50,000.

Looks like my favorite film will remain my favorite for the foreseeable future!

Who wrote this?

Bob Waliszewski is the director of the Plugged In department. His syndicated "Plugged In Movie Review" feature is heard by approximately 9 million people each week on more than 1,500 radio stations and other outlets and has been nominated for a National Religious Broadcaster's award. Waliszewski is the author of the book Plugged-In Parenting: How to Raise Media-Savvy Kids With Love, Not War. You can follow him on Twitter @PluggedInBob.

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