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How a Crowdfunded Series Is Spreading the Gospel Worldwide

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When The Chosen set out in 2017 to crowdfund its way to a first season, their goal of introducing “the authentic Jesus to a billion people” was ambitious, to say the least. And while they still have a ways to go to reach that point, they’ve recently crossed the threshold of 200 million viewers around the world.

Streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and The Chosen app have contributed greatly to that number. However, their growth has been fueled just as much by the degree to which the show has been translated and dubbed into so many languages around the world.

As Adam Macinnis writes, The Chosen has partnered with Come and See to dub the show into fifty languages, with the hopes of eventually taking that number beyond six hundred. That number far surpasses the previous record holder—Baywatch—which saw its episodes translated 34 times.

And the extra effort to dub the show rather than just make it available through subtitles is crucial for areas where literacy is lacking.

Making the Gospel Accessible

Macinnis describes how, in Madagascar for example, the nation’s president—Andry Rajoelina—reached out to Come and See to request that the group make the native Malagasy language a priority, even though it is spoken by a relatively small number of people. When it was made available last year, The Chosen became what is believed to be the first show ever dubbed into the language.

And, as Come and See CEO Stan Jantz describes, the impact has been felt throughout the island nation, with the show taken into remote areas, reaching people with the gospel in ways that were previously impossible.

However, the people at Come and See are quick to note that for such efforts to be effective, it takes a lot more than just typing a script into Google Translate. The intricacies of making sure that the message is conveyed accurately and in a way that makes sense to its audience require the ability to hear it spoken through the ears of native speakers.

That’s why the ministry seeks out pastors, Bible translators, and biblical scholars who speak the language when trying to translate the show. Moreover, they also strive to work with people who share their passion for the project. And the ability to partner with people who are not only capable but share their vision for what God can do through The Chosen is a big reason why the show now has more viewers outside the US than in its American audience.

It should also serve as a powerful reminder for each of us.

“The Torture You’re Comfortable With”

Jerry Seinfeld was in the news recently after a group of students walked out of their commencement ceremonies at Duke in protest to the comedian’s support of Israel in its war against Hamas. And that’s too bad, because there was a lot in Seinfeld’s address that they needed to hear, including a thought that is particularly relevant to our conversation today.

While the comedian covered quite a bit of ground in his speech, his thoughts on work were what stood out the most to me.

He encouraged the graduates to “Find something where you love the good parts, and don’t mind the bad parts too much. The torture you’re comfortable with. This is the golden path to victory in life. Work, exercise, relationships, they all have a solid component of pure torture, and they are all 1000 percent worth it.”

I bring that idea up today because, even when we are pursuing God’s calling for our lives and partnering with him in work that truly matters, there will be days and moments where that work feels like torture, where the bad parts seem to outweigh the good.

And that’s alright.

Even Jesus had those moments (Matthew 26:36–46). And if God-incarnate didn’t always enjoy doing the Father’s will, why should we think it would be any different for us?

How to Discern God’s Calling

One of the most debilitating mistakes we can make in our relationship with God is confusing times of difficulty for evidence that we aren’t walking in his will. The inevitability of such trials is why it is so important that we make sure we are not only adhering to God’s calling for our lives but also walking that path in his strength rather than our own.

The path to getting The Chosen from an idea to a reality—much less taking it to people around the world—has not always been easy. However, one of the most consistent messages from the show’s creator, Dallas Jenkins, is that he and those who work with him on the project feel a genuine calling from the Lord to help people know Jesus through their work. As a result, the difficulties they’ve faced are akin to—in the words of Jerry Seinfeld—“the torture you’re comfortable with,” and it’s helped them persevere.

As you think back on the trials you’ve faced, can you say the same? If not, it’s possible that a change is needed and you’re not living in accordance with God’s will for your life. I feel like for most of us, though, the reason is less that we aren’t living out our calling and more that we’ve forgotten to see our work—at school, home, the office, or in whatever form it might take—as our calling.

To put it another way, we’ve forgotten that work done for the Lord always has a higher purpose and is “1000 percent worth it.”

And if you need help seeing your calling through that lens, know that its Author would love to help you do just that.

Will you take the time to ask him?

Note: One of the keys to discerning God’s calling for your life and how he wants you to live it out is understanding your spiritual gifts. To that end, our ministry provides a free spiritual gifts test. We have also written a book that takes a deeper look into each of the gifts as well as how they are used in Scripture. We hope that these resources can prove helpful in gaining a better understanding of God’s gifts and calling in your life.

Quote for the day:

“It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it. The motive is everything. Let a man sanctify the Lord God in his heart and he can thereafter do no common act.” — A.W. Tozer

Photo Courtesy: ©Loaves & Fishes, used with permission
Publish Date: May 17, 2024

Ryan Denison, PhD, is the Senior Editor for Theology at Denison Forum. Ryan writes The Daily Article every Friday and contributes writing and research to many of the ministry’s productions. He holds a PhD in church history from BH Carroll Theological Institute after having earned his MDiv at Truett Seminary. He’s authored The Path to Purpose, What Are My Spiritual Gifts?, How to Bless God by Blessing Others, 7 Deadly Sinsand has contributed writing or research to every Denison Forum book.

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of CrosswalkHeadlines.

For more from the Denison Forum, please visit www.denisonforum.org.

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