The Most Watched Film in History
The most watched film in history is not Gone with the Wind, not Star Wars, not Titanic, but the gospel of Luke, called simply JESUS and known as “the JESUS film.” A box office failure in 1979, the movie has been translated by Campus Crusade for Christ’s The JESUS Film Project into more than 1,000 languages including Karakalpak (Uzbekistan), Farsi (Iran), Shona (Zimbabwe), Dani (Indonesia), and Shipibo-Conibo (Peru). Five thousand missionaries organize screenings in all parts of the world.
Franklin Foer of the New York Times reports, “Conversion stories abound. Joel Carpenter, provost of Calvin College, says he met an evangelist in Nigeria who created 30 churches in Muslim enclaves in a single summer of JESUS screenings. ‘In Nigeria, people consume most of their media in English,’ Prof. Carpenter says. ‘When people see Jesus speaking in their tongue, they instantly identify with him. He seems sent to them.’
“Brian Helstrom, who oversees distribution of the film for the Church of the Nazarene, . . . described a screening in a village in Phaphamani, South Africa. . . . Because the town did not have electricity, the five generator-powered lights that Mr. Helstrom and his fellow missionaries mounted, atop a large screen, attracted a crowd of 350. He ran the projector, and watched the crowd react to what was probably the first film they had ever seen, let alone the first they had seen in their own language.
“‘You could see them physically jump back at the sight of the serpent tempting Jesus,’ he recalled. ‘When soldiers whip Jesus, you could hear grown adults crying.’ After Jesus's death, but before his resurrection, a black South African missionary told the crowd that they had a chance to pray and to accept Christ. ‘He asked everybody who prayed to walk forward and come into light,’ Mr. Helstrom says. ‘One hundred forty-five people walked out of the darkness into light.’”1
Christianity Today reported that “several years ago in Peru, during the insurgence of the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path), a
Wycliffe couple was traveling to show the JESUS film in a village. Their vehicle was intercepted by the Senderos, and they feared for their lives (with just cause). Instead of killing them, however, the terrorists decided to seize their equipment, including the film projector. The husband boldly suggested that they might as well take the film reels too.
“Some time later, a man contacted them and reminded them that he had been among the Senderos who had robbed them. He told them they watched the film seven times (out of sheer boredom), and some had been converted through it. He came to apologize and to tell of his ministry in preaching and evangelism.”2
You can watch all two hours of the JESUS film in French, Spanish, Bhujpuri, Ge, Icelandic, or more than one thousand other languages—including English here. Just choose which language you want.
 Frenklin Foer, “The Passion’s Precedent: The Most-Watched Film Ever?” New York Times, February 8, 2004.
 Wendy Murray Zoba, “Bill Bright’s Wonderful Plan for the World,” Christianity Today, July 14, 1997, 24.