“After weeks of contacting studios in Hollywood, New York and London, we were nowhere. Every door we pushed trying to raise the production funds turned out to be closed and barred. Without the money, the film would never become a reality. There seemed only one remaining possibility.”
The year was 1979 and director Paul Eshleman and producer John Heyman were in desperate need to come up with several million dollars to produce their film. Heyman, a successful Hollywood film producer, had a dream to put the whole Bible on film. Eshleman, a national leader for Campus Crusade for Christ, wanted to introduce the world to Jesus.
They had a screenplay based on the gospel of Luke. They had a plan to film on location in Israel. The only piece remaining was the funding.
Only a Handful of People
Eshleman shares the rest of the story in his book I Just Saw Jesus:
“There seemed only one remaining possibility. Campus Crusade for Christ had planned several weekend meetings designed to raise funds for world evangelism. John and I were scheduled to lead a special seminar on the first weekend. The topic: How a film on the life of Christ could be used to help reach the world. John had also been asked to talk of his faith at the dinner that Saturday night. Perhaps when those in attendance heard of the need, someone’s heart would be stirred to back the project financially. We prayed, expecting the Lord to do great things.
Only a handful of people attended our seminar. Discouragement settled in again.
“Maybe someone will see the need tonight,” I said to John as we left the seminar. “At least you can tell them about it in your talk.”
John spoke to a large and attentive audience that night. In just a few words he opened up to them and revealed his love and his heart for the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob — the God John Heyman had learned to love and lived to serve. Many in the room wept openly as they stood up to applaud the soft-spoken man before them.
In a corner of the room, Bunker Hunt leaned over to his wife Caroline, and said, “What would you think if we underwrote that film?”
“Oh, Bunker, I think that would be just wonderful.”
In the morning John and I drove down the mountain with a 3.5 million dollar guarantee. The dream would become a reality because one couple, committed to world evangelism, funded a movie called JESUS.”
The Fruit of Generosity
Since 1979 the JESUS film has been shown all over the world. It has been dubbed into more than 1,700 languages so far and over 500 million people have put their faith in Jesus because of it. Many would say the JESUS film is the most fruitful evangelistic tool the world has ever seen. And behind it all were two Gospel Patrons from Texas named Bunker and Caroline Hunt.
Caroline was given a copy of the book Gospel Patrons in honor of her and her husband’s great generosity and she humbly responded by saying, “Gospel Patrons had me in tears of joy that you would think me worthy to join such a wonderful group of saints. I am a long way from such a group, however, I now have a goal!”
When godly vision and godly generosity come together it can mean life change for thousands or even millions of people.