Written by: John Lundy
Article source: twr.org

The restaurant had netting hanging down from the ceiling. The purpose: to catch evil spirits before they could do harm.

“I don’t know how many of them really believe those are catching spirits,” said Candace Mackie, ministry director for TWR MOTION, the video storytelling wing of TWR (also known as Trans World Radio). “But, you know, it’s part of their culture. They’re constantly thinking about that, and they’re constantly concerned about that. They want spirits to bless them. They want to prosper.”

Mackie was describing a visit she and the MOTION team paid to Thailand early in 2023. They were meeting with church planters and exploring the culture as they embarked on their third major series of video animations. The first two were prepared to help church planters present the gospel in Muslim cultures. The third, a 20-episode series now in production, will tell the story to people with a Buddhist worldview, such as the vast majority of the Thai people.

The project is being featured as this month’s installment of TWR’s Reach the Last series, highlighting how God is using TWR to help bring the gospel to some of the world’s least-reached people groups.

That fits Thailand. There is a small but vibrant Christian community among the Thai, but fewer than 2% of the population overall are evangelical Christians, according to Joshua Project. In 88% of Thai villages, there is no Christian presence, according to Josh Terndrup, a church planter in Thailand for Antioch Ministries International (AMI).

It was Terndrup who reached out to TWR MOTION after watching Share the Story, the animated Bible story videos MOTION created for people from a Muslim worldview. Could MOTION do the same thing for a Buddhist audience? Terndrup wondered. He contacted Mackie and asked if MOTION was interested in tackling a new project.

“We were in the middle of a project, but we were open to a new project after that,” Mackie recalled. “So that’s where the conversation started. … And we spent some time in prayer over it.”

A positive decision led to the visit to Thailand, where the MOTION team explored the culture, met with the AMI team and with a team from Wycliffe Bible Translators, who had already developed Bible stories in the Thai language.

Since then, the team has been transferring all of that information into 20 episodes, of three-to-five minutes each, of the new series, Journey to Hope. All six members of the full-time MOTION staff in Cary are on the production team, along with two off-site illustrators, two consultants and a composer. The art team is led by Kayla Schlipf, senior illustrator and animator. Another animator is prepared to join the team as soon as he finishes raising his financial support. All the members of the MOTION team are supported missionaries.

One of the venues for the series, expected to be finished in mid-2025, will be Facebook. The average Thai person spends two to three hours per day on the social media site, Terndrup said, and AMI already is using Facebook and other forms of digital marketing to connect with people who are disillusioned and looking for hope.

When the project is completed, TWR MOTION will have invested three years or more into it. Working on something that requires so much time and effort before bearing fruit can be a heavy lift for the team, Mackie acknowledged. But they keep in mind the reason for all the work.

“I think we all are just really passionate about using our skills to make the gospel known, and to make Jesus known,” she said. “It’s always really encouraging when we hear stories about how our content is affecting and impacting people. … It reminds us that there’s a bigger thing that we’re doing this for.”

You can read the full report, “Reach the Last: Waiting for a Movement of God in Thailand,” here.

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Date published: 08/06/2024

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