If you didn't know by now, movies are one of my favorite things. Outside of being a prime source of pure entertainment, film is one of the easiest ways to communicate ideas and themes through contemporary technology. A good friend of mine was given the amazing opportunity to use the medium of film to share the most important information of all – the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is my privilege to have Ethan and Emily Crowley as good friends. They are a couple of the most genuine, infectiously kind people I know. It also my privilege to tell you about the work that God is doing in and through them in the country of Cambodia. The Crowleys are no strangers in Cambodia, or at least, Ethan isn't. Ethan's family moved to Cambodia when he was just 7 years old. They had been pastoring in Hawaii, and pioneering a mission work in Cambodia was a dream come true for the Crowleys. The country was a far different place than it is today. A war-torn, backwards country that had been an isolated zone for genocide and communism was hardly a place to bring a western family of six who want to share the gospel. But that was just the point. Since then, Cambodia has taken momentous strides in the economic, social, and political arenas. With these improvements came an openness to new ideas, causing a surge in the growth of the church. Makes for a different place to grow up, right?
But that's Ethan's story: an American Christian exploring the Cambodian countryside with native peers. Now he's back, this time with his own family and his own mission: translating the gospel through the medium of film.
Ethan and Emily are working with multiple mission boards in an effort to reach the Brao, a particular Cambodian tribal group. The Crowley's are working specifically on a project to adapt a film called The Hope into the Brao's native dialect. The Hope is a movie that walks through the story of the Bible, sharing the gospel in a way that caters to those who have literally never heard a word about Jesus before. The language is simple; the storyline is easy to follow. But the film was produced in English. It was, however, made in such a way that the English speaking narrator could be edited out to sub in different narrators speaking other languages, allowing for a wide-spread influence and versatility. Ethan is using local Brao folks to assist in narrating the adaptation so that the locals can understand it.
The primary challenge here comes from a culture that is largely under educated. Having only had a written dialect for about 10 years, most natives are below a 6th grade reading level. The idea of using a teleprompter to cue narrative dialogue is almost impossible. On top of that, the crew is looking to use solid Christian Braos to strengthen the message and testimony of the film, but there are only several hundred Christians amongst the people group, making the selection a slim one. This has been one of the key struggles thus far on the project.
Ethan has a degree in film production, something he is gifted at but rarely finds opportunities to use those gifts. With a difficult job market back in the states, video production has not been the most profitable degree to hold. But it is interesting how God creates avenues for His children to serve Him with the gifts He has given. Every day Ethan uses concepts and skills he practiced day in and day our in his education, making him not only qualified but ecstatic about doing the work God has given him and Emily.
Peter says in 1 Peter 4:10 that a believer is called to simply be faithful in using the gifts God grants him to serve others. The Crowley's have found the truth of this verse in Cambodia and are demonstrating their love for Jesus in that way.
As far as support, prayer is the number one. I personally get a huge boost out of just knowing that people are behind me; supportive, loving, praying, etc. They would ask you to pray specifically for accurate script translation; that the gospel may be clear and convincing through this platform; that the narrators needed would be found. In many ways, these folks will be the face of the gospel for Cambodia. It's a huge undertaking, and God can use this tool for His fame in a big way. The Crowleys would love nothing more than to know that they have brothers and sisters in Jesus praying for their service.
To learn more about Ethan and Emily, The Hope, and the work in Cambodia, check out the following links:
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