The impact of the film The Passion in the Middle East-Probably Truth!
The film The Passion is Hot in the Middle East-Probably Truth!
Summary of eRumor:An email said to be from a Christian worker in Qatar in the Middle East and describes the impact of Mel Gibson's film The Passion.
Missionaries and other Christian workers in some areas of the Middle East don't advertise their presence for sake of safety so this message, if authentic, comes from people who cannot identify themselves.
The description of the events in Qatar in response to Mel Gibson's film The Passion, however, fits with what others seem to be saying about its reception in the Middle East.
Journalist Miral Fahmy wrote an article for Reuters on 4/6/04 saying that The Passion was making history in the Arab world.
Because of some of the outspoken Jewish opposition to the film for fear that it might be anti-Semitic, some Arab governments and Islamic leaders have made surprising allowances.
The film is a hit in Egypt, Lebanon, Qatar, Syria, Jordan, the United Arab Emerites and, according to the distributor, has broken box office records.
It's been banned in Kuwait and Bahrain.
Famy says the film is even a hit in Saudi Arabia, which bans movie theaters.
Bootlegged copies of The Passion are being copied and passed around.
Last updated 4/07/04
A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:
…this will rock your socks right off, ….these emails are the results of
the “Passion” being shown in the Middle East; this was sent by a Campus
Crusade staff member to her mom, a friend of mine….enjoy and Spread the
The Passion in the Middle East
Today very possibly was the most significant day we have seen in nearly
12 years of living in the Middle East. To everyone’s shock and surprise,
“The Passion” was released today here in Qatar. Just a few days ago when
prayed for it to come to Qatar in our prayer meeting (we knew it was opening
in the United Arab Emirates in about a week), I honestly had no faith
whatsoever that her prayer would be answered. You have to realize that until
now we have only been able to show the Jesus film in Arabic to a handful of
Qataris in the secret of a home setting. In the coming weeks, Potentially
10’s of thousands of Arab Muslims will see this powerful portrayal of
Christ’s suffering and death.
Today at 4:30PM, our entire team went to see the film. Since all of us have
heard many different reactions and responses to the film, I won’t add very
much to that discussion here.
However, I don’t think anybody who has seen this film saw it in a Theatre
which was full of Gulf Arab Muslims – both men and women. In two short
hours, more Qataris heard the Gospel than I have been able to reach in
nearly 5 years of living here. The Arabic subtitles were completely accurate
– they didn’t water ANYTHING down or change any language that Muslims would
not agree with. All of us watched the film in absolute amazement in what God
had done. The Muslims sitting around us were being moved – gasping, crying
and reacting with disgust to the brutality that Jesus faced.
Now – if you have heard anything about why the Arab Muslims would want
To see the film, you know that it is because they ‘heard’ it was anti-Jewish
and since they hate the Jews, they want to see it. How interesting that God
is using this film to communicate the Gospel and the very opposite spirit
that might be motivating them to go and see it. The message to LOVE YOUR
ENEMIES, and Jesus praying for them to be forgiven while on the Cross Would
hit the Muslim theatre-goer in a powerful way.
Just as Satan surely felt that he was winning when Christ began to suffer,
ultimately it was the plundering of his house and his complete defeat.
Muslims are going to see this film because of their hatred and in the
end, the message they will hear is to LOVE. Is it not just like God to do
something like that? They mean it for evil, and God means it for good!!
There is yet another motivation that Qatar had in releasing this film
And that was to be “the first country in the Middle East” to show the film.
Qatar is trying to change its image and portray itself as a tolerant Muslim
country. Little do they know that this film is exposing their people to many
truths that their faith categorically denies. (The Sonship of Christ, the
Fatherhood of God, the Atoning Death of Christ for the sins of the World,
and of course the commandment to “Love your enemies”.).
We are all still shell-shocked by what has happened and what will happen
In the coming days. D— and N—- P.S. Also mentioned in the article today:
“Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat watched the Passion of the Christ at a
private screening in the West Bank city of Ramallah yesterday and said
it was not anti-Semitic. He watched the film with Palestinian Muslim and
Christian leaders at his headquarters in Ramallah.”
I know I sent out the report of R.T. Kendall sharing the Gospel Personally
with Yasser Arafat a few months ago. May this film help him to come to Jesus
and learn to “love his enemies” too!!
—–Original Message—– From: D Sent: Wednesday, March 24, 2004
10:51 AM To:
Subject: more about “The Passion” in Qatar
Since the last email, so much has happened I simply do not know where to
begin. In all humility, we have to say that in just a few short days, more
Arab Muslims have been able to clearly hear (and see) the Gospel in Their
own language than we would be able to reach in a lifetime of ministry in the
Middle East. We are just walking around in our own version of a ‘shock And
awe campaign’. Let me give you the highlights and I’ll try to write more of
the details later.
The film is so popular here in Qatar that they have been canceling the Other
films to show “The Passion” in all the theatres at a Cinema complex. I took
a former student the 2nd night, who now works for the Ministry of Islamic
Affairs, and at the 7:30PM and 9:3
0PM showing the film was running in all 3
theatres. I would estimate that well over 50% of the people in the theatre
were local Muslims – women completely veiled. I saw former students of mine
walking out. I saw one British woman who converted to Islam walking out (I
prayed she would find her way back to the faith she abandoned).
You could see how this film had impacted everyone. After we saw the film, I
looked at my former student Mohammed and said to him in Arabic, “Don’t
you see that Jesus died for YOUR sins”. I then really took a bit of a risk
(seeing that he works for the Ministry of Islamic Affairs” – I said, “you
know, Mohammed, you think that this film is here because of ‘freedom of
speech’ or the ‘new openness of your government’, but actually God Himself
has sent this film to CORRECT your people’s total misunderstanding about who
Jesus is, and why He came to earth’. What followed was about a 2 hour
discussion/debate on many of the differences between Islam and Christianity.
On the second day, several of the local newspapers had the Advertisement
for the film ON THE FRONT PAGE. Here is one of the links to an English
newspaper in case anybody is interested to see.
Local_News&subsection Qatar+News&month March2004&file
It appears that even Saudi Arabia is getting a chance to see the film,
albeit through pirated DVD’s –
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/1098919/posts. There are no movie
theatres in Saudi Arabia anyway. God knows what He’s doing. I was just
reminded what the Apostle Paul writes: “It is true that some preach Christ
out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in
love…The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely…But
what does it matter? THE IMPORTANT THING IS THAT IN EVERY WAY (pirated
DVDs?), whether false motives or True CHRIST is PREACHED. And because of
this I rejoice”. (Philippians 1:15-18)
Timing of the release. The killing of Palestinian Hamas leader, Sheikh Ahmad
Yassin happened the morning after the film was released. The Arab
Response has been a whole new wave of hatred for the Jews, which was
illustrated in a large public demonstration/march yesterday. Again, God’s
timing is so amazing. At a time when the urge for Muslims to hate has been
renewed, the Lord has brought THE PASSION telling them – NO, LOVE YOUR
ENEMIES! Forgive them! The contrast is staggering.
Today, after class two of my Qatari girl students came up to me and asked
me, “Do you have the New Testament in Arabic”? “Me and ALL my friends want
to read it”! Another asked about where to get the Arabic Bible on the
internet. THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED! The film is generating so much interest
in Jesus and the Scriptures. Every Christian we are talking to seems to have
a story of two just like this one. May it continue to increase.
Finally, I got a call from some good friends who are now a part of the
International House of Prayer (IHOP) ministry in Kansas City. 800 people
were gathered and he read my email which then led into a time of
intercession for the impact of the film in Qatar and the Middle East. Some
major Christian leaders were in the meeting, and after the meeting one of
them came up to him and asked for a copy of the email. She told him that she
was a personal friend of Mel Gibson’s and that she wanted to send it to him
to encourage him. He then told me that as far as he knew Mel Gibson now
has a copy of the last email we sent you.
If somehow this one gets to him, Mel, we just want to say THANK YOU and
God Bless You! You have truly been used by our Lord to change this Middle
Eastern country (and more in the days to come) – to bring the message of
Jesus’ atoning sacrifice, His Kingdom of Love and His Divine Sonship to
A people who have categorically denied every single one of them for more
than 1400 years. Be ENCOURAGED Mel. Our lives and ministry have been changed
forever. Whenever the DVD is finally released, PLEASE include Arabic
subtitles so that we can continue to use this film, to the Glory of the
Lord for many years to come.
Watching God at work,
D and N