The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how.
Mark 4:26, 27
Prior to my conversion, I experienced more than a few “altar calls” at church, but steadfastly refused a full commitment to Christ until I had read the Bible cover to cover. I think I quite rightly sensed that were I to become a Christian, my life would change radically, and I wanted to know what I was getting myself into.
When in the fullness of time my “second birth” did come, it was a messy affair. Great sobs wracked me, body and soul, and like a newborn crying and spitting, I seized on the idea that my calling in life was to be that of a missionary. It was as though God had slapped me firmly on the back, I breathed in the “air” of the Holy Spirit, and out came my resolve to take the Good News worldwide. As I have written previously, my assumption was that my previous career in filmmaking would have “neither part nor lot in the matter” (see Acts 8:21), and for several years I deliberately gave a cold shoulder to any suggestion that I might serve God as a filmmaker.
But to serve God as a missionary… Now, that was something I could get excited about! Eventually, I found a home with Latin America Mission, headquartered in Coral Gables, Florida. They were interested in using my film background to produce training and support videos for their missionaries. That held scant interest to me, but when I received an ID card saying, “This is to certify that Cristóbal Krusen is a missionary with LAM,” I had what I wanted.
Dutifully, I made the videos and slide shows LAM required, but the real thrill for me was preaching to people in the public square, whether at the store, on the street, in an airplane, at the beach… it didn’t matter. I was eager to share the Good News and I did. And if someone wanted to know who I represented, I would show them my little “missionary card.”
Then one day, in San José, Costa Rica, where I was videotaping a seminar that had drawn speakers from several Latin American countries, I happened to look out my hotel window late in the afternoon at a movie theatre directly across the street. It was playing First Blood, the initial installment in the Rambo franchise. More people than I could count were standing in a line that stretched around the block and out of view.
As I stood there looking at the hundreds of theatregoers moving slowly in line, I asked myself if God wouldn’t do something similar for a film that honored him. A film with a great story and beautifully made, touching the very fibers of the human soul… Wouldn’t people line up to see a movie like that? And in that moment, I think, Messenger Films was born. A seed was planted that over time has grown to maturity without me understanding exactly how.
A year later, I would leave LAM to work full-time at Messenger Films. Well, I use the word “work” under advisement since during those early years I made no films; I delivered pizza and worked off and on as an electrician’s helper. Then, in 1988, I took my family to Mexico to produce our first film, Ropa Nueva para Felipe. It was made on a budget of $50,000.
And here’s the thing. That first film, as modest as it was, has resulted in hundreds of thousands of people coming to faith in Christ. It has served as a workhorse for the Gospel and will, I suppose, continue to serve its missionary purpose for years to come. Not to take anything away from real-life missionaries; many of them are true heroes of the faith. But most will struggle to learn a new language; they will inevitably get sick, tired, dissatisfied at times. Some will depart from the faith. All of them will die. But a film…
A film will last forever, and if it is a film anointed by the Holy Spirit, its impact will always be potentially life-changing. When seeds are scattered, some will invariably find good soil and plants will grow and sprout and produce grain regardless of what we do or don’t do—what we can or cannot do.
Over the years, I have read many stories of lives changed by watching one of our films. Just recently, someone brought to my attention that Final Solution, a movie shot in English and released in 2001, has been watched in its Spanish dubbed version by nearly 3 million people over just the past two years! And shall I mention ¿Con Quién Te Vas? Undaunted? More Than Dreams? Sabina K.? Like Ropa Nueva para Felipe and Final Solution, these films have also been dubbed or subtitled into other languages and are all still in distribution today. It’s no exaggeration to say that since 1988, hundreds of millions of people have seen a Messenger Films production. To what end you ask? I quote further from the Parable of the Growing Seed: “All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come” (Mark 4:28, 29).
And so, as 2023 draws to a close, I find myself pondering anew the question: “Can I serve the Lord as a missionary filmmaker?”
I think I know the answer, but it does help to get letters like this one from a viewer of our newest film, Let Me Have My Son: “I ended the movie with a box of Kleenex, convinced it was a message from God. It was what I needed in that moment. A reminder in the midst of the daily chaos of life that love and faith can endure all hardships.”
Another letter I received had this to say about how we treat the mentally ill: “We cannot give up on each other, we just can’t.”
While someone else wrote simply, “This movie changed my life.”
These are just a few of the comments on Let Me Have My Son. And it all started with a seed.
C.T. Studd, the famous British cricketer and missionary to China, wrote a poem with this immortal line you might recognize: “Only one life, ’twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.” Oh, let your light shine, habibi. Plant your good seed now, plant it today, and watch amazed as it grows over the years; you know not how.
May you finish 2023 strong and may the holidays bring you peace and good cheer!
A Final Word
Several weeks ago, I had a talk with my pastor here in the Twin Cities. “Pastor,” I said, “I’m struggling with how best to approach the need for raising funds at Messenger Films.”
“What’s the problem exactly?” he asked me.
“Well, it’s not that there’s a problem, really. After all, we are a 501(c)(3) ministry, and raising funds is part of what we do. Perhaps the problem is me. I’m struggling to overcome my reluctance to ask people for help—even though we need help to continue our work.”
We chatted a bit more, and then my pastor gave me some advice: “Be bold, Cris. You’re having a powerful impact in society through your films. There’s nothing to be bashful about. In truth, you’re giving people a wonderful opportunity to be part of a great ministry!”
So, I come to you today with an invitation… Will you donate to the work of Messenger Films before the end of this year?
There are several “wonderful opportunities” you might consider:
- Contribute toward the match of a $20K gift to make a follow-up documentary on my son, Daniel, now that he is out of the hospital and making adjustments to move on in life. This project will promote the humanity and dignity of the mentally ill and demonstrate Christian love in action. It will also encourage people to watch our film Let Me Have My Son and raise awareness of mental health in general.
- Contribute toward the ongoing pre-production of two new feature films: Life or Death (to be filmed in Belize) and It’s a Beautiful Day (to be filmed in Australia). This is a big ask, but I’ll follow my pastor’s advice and be bold about it! We’re looking to raise $5 million dollars for these two films over the next 12 months.
- Contribute toward administrative costs at the ministry. I put this last because it is typically the least popular request (as most of you know)!
Well, that’s it for now. Please know I’m available for a phone call or personal visit to talk more in-depth.
Sincerely yours for Christ,