By Eric Leijenaar, BosNewsLife Senior Special Correspondent
DAMASCUS, SYRIA (BosNewsLife)– A film about the life of the biblical Apostle Paul, which “clearly reflects the Gospel,” has been watched in Syria by over a thousand Muslim clerics and politicians, including a government minister, organizers said.
The 77-minutes movie, described as “a tool for evangelism”, was shown March 13 in an Opera theater of Syria’s capital Damascus, revealed BosNewsLife’s Netherlands-based news partner http://www.manna-vandaag.nl/
In comments, monitored by BosNewsLife Monday, May 18, organizers said the film was produced by Syrian Protestant Christians in close cooperation with mission group Agapè
and Campus Crusade for Christ, one of the world’s largest evangelism movements.
Some 1135 people, most of them Muslim clerics and politicians, including a minister of Culture, as well as some journalists, watched the March premiere in Damascus, confirmed film adviser Joel Rosenberg, who is also an author of romantic best sellers about the world’s last days.
Rosenberg said the enthusiastic Syrian crowd “spontaneously applauded during a scene where Paul was baptized and received back his eyesight” from God. “Some even rejoiced,” he explained.
Manna-vandaag.nl quoted Syrian sources as saying that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad saw the film after the premiere in a private theater, but Rosenberg declined to comment.
Rosenberg said however that Syrian authorities supported the project, “although it was clear that this was a Christian production.” Rosenberg added that the government even “provided facilities and showed great interest” in the film.
He stressed it was very special that this was possible in Syria, a predominantly Islamic country. “It also received coverage from a dozen television networks who also made street interviews about this subject. It’s almost unimaginable,” he said.
Another Christian group, The Joshua Fund, said it would raise 300.000 dollars to distribute 300,000 copies of the movie in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, manna-vandaag.nl reported.
The film premiered over the weekend also in Europe in Rome, next to St. Peter’s Square, during an event co-organized by the Vatican. “The Vatican was very enthusiastic about the film, said Rozemarijn Medema, a spokesperson of Agapè in the Netherlands. Some 400 people, including cardinals, religious leaders and ambassadors from over 150 countries were among those invited.
Pope Benedict XVI declared June 28, 2008, to June 29, 2009, as the ‘Pauline’ year, to mark the approximately 2,000th anniversary of the apostle’s birth. Medema said Agapè wants to use the jubilee year as an opportunity for premieres in several countries “so that this film will a witness” of the Gospel, “for many people.”
The film was originally recorded in the Arabic language but has since been synchronized in English, French and Italian. Plans are underway for translations in other languages, including Turkish, Farsi, Russian, Urdu and Kurdish, producers said. On the Web: http://www.damascusspeaks.com/