Maybe you’ve heard of the Jesus Film and its impact on lives around the world. But, do you know about the Magdalena Movie, which shares the gospel to women in a special way? Born out of the compassion of one South African man, this film reaches into the emptiness of the hearts of women and teaches that they matter to Jesus.
Willie E. and his wife Marie were working in Afghanistan. Willie saw first-hand how the women were ill-treated, worse than dogs. While distributing aid in a room of about twenty burka-clad women, most holding babies, a large bearded man stood at the door with a stick. When the women talked, he beat them over the head with the stick. They cowered. One lady tried to shield with her arm, yet he continued beating her. Willie could feel her pain, even though he couldn’t see her face. After this experience, he told Marie they had to do something to teach these ladies about Jesus. How would they learn? They can’t go out, can’t read, can’t get a Bible, and can’t communicate with strangers. After much prayer, the Magdalena project began in 2002.
The Magdalena film depicts biblical accounts of Jesus’ loving, grace-filled interactions with women. One evangelistic strategy trains women to tell these stories orally, so they can share with anyone, anywhere. Marie has been instrumental in these trainings. Storytelling training equips women not to just memorize a story, but to tell it in a way that reflects the women’s personal reactions to the movie and their unique life experiences. After crafting a story, women learn to use it for evangelism. They watch clips on a battery operated projector because many places have no electricity. They discuss the clips, using the movie like a Bible study while learning to tell the stories.
Marie tells of a session in Madagascar when after crafting two stories, they sent the women out to practice using them to evangelize. The women came back within an hour and had led 72 people to Christ! When the women see this method working, they get excited and want to learn more and more. Another woman from Zimbabwe, Tabeth (at right), learned the storytelling technique and used it to plant ten churches, five of which were planted within a six-month time period. One of these churches appears in the photos above.
God is using this film to show defeated and degraded women their immense value. From the first Afghan version in the Dari language to the subsequent 170 translations, women weep as they watch because they learn the joy of knowing Jesus. Marie says,“In the end, it’s God that gets the glory for everything that gets done, because without him, we could have done nothing.”
*Photos courtesy of Marie E. of Cru.