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Reach the last: Waiting for a movement of God in Thailand

TWR MOTION is working with a team of believers in Thailand to create a 20-episode series of animated Bible stories for a Buddhist audience.

RADIO, MEDIA & MISSIONS AUTOR 431/Rachel_Mehlhaff 23 DE ABRIL DE 2024 10:00 h
A man uses his phone in the back of a vehicle in Thailand. Sixty-six percent of the population in Thailand uses Facebook. / Photo: TWR MOTION. 

Josh Terndrup and the Antioch Ministries International (AMI) team in Thailand are asking God to work in the Buddhist world the way he has in the Muslim world

Terndrup, a church planter, read a book called The Wind in the House of Islam, which shares how, in the last 20 years, there has been a more significant church-planting movement in the Muslim-background nations than there has been in the previous 1,500 years. 

“ That really touched our hearts”, Terndrup said. “That really moved us to believe, 'God, would you do something like that in this generation among Buddhist-background people?'”

According to Terndrup, 88% of Thai villages have no Christian presence.

In addition to building churches, the AMI team uses digital discipleship to find spiritually open people. These are people who, despite their religious background, show an openness to exploring spiritual matters.

The team uses platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Google Ads to connect with these individuals and, ultimately, move them into offline discipleship relationships.

In Thailand, where more than 50 million people are on Facebook, only 1.7% believe in Jesus, according to

“If that's where people are living, if that's where people are engaging content and engaging with other people, then how do we bring the gospel to that place?”, he asked.


Animating Bible stories

Videos are a powerful tool in this approach. That's why Terndrup reached out to TWR MOTION after seeing Share the Story, a series of animated Bible story videos MOTION created for people with a Muslim worldview.

He requested MOTION create something similar but with a Buddhist worldview in mind.

So that's what the MOTION team is working on, a different set of Bible stories with new artwork and music to share the good news in a Buddhist context. It's called Journey to Hope.

It's the heart of MOTION's work: equipping church planters with culturally appropriate, gospel-centered videos to use as they make disciples.

“I'm convinced that making contextualized, Jesus-centered videos that are easily adaptable into other languages is the best use of our time”, said Candace Mackie, director of TWR MOTION.

“We have a niche ministry and more work and opportunities than we have time for, so I know what we're doing is important for the kingdom. It's an honor to create content that church planters can use to make disciples”.

TWR MOTION's goal with Journey to Hope is to help people imagine being a follower of Jesus in their culture.

The beauty of the Bible is that it speaks to every worldview. For Buddhists, the stories of Jesus casting out evil spirits, setting people free, and bringing about physical healing are powerful, Terndrup said.

[photo_footer]The TWR MOTION team is tasked with developing an illustrative style which feels Southeast Asian but not Buddhist. This illustration depicts Adam and Eve. / Photo: TWR MOTION.  [/photo_footer] 


Developing art

Creating culturally appropriate animations that share the gospel's truth is no small feat. The MOTION team works closely with Thai consultants to ensure the art isn't offensive or distracting.

“We try to take elements of their world – shapes, colors, line – and use that to try to tell the story of Christ in a way that is easier for them to understand”, said Tod Polson, a consultant for Journey to Hope.

As the MOTION team creates the videos, they walk a tightrope of making the art, animation, music and sound effects feel Southeast Asian but not Buddhist.

When the team traveled to Thailand in January 2023, Kayla Schlipf, the art director for Journey to Hope, was surprised to learn incorporating Buddhist symbols would not be a bridge.

The other challenge of bringing Bible stories to life for a specific culture is that the Bible's original setting is the Middle East, so the team wants to remain faithful to that while incorporating other Southeast Asian elements.

“It's just the way things are drawn that we want to bring in more of the Thai or Southeast Asian influence”, Schlipf said.

Rachel Mehlhaff serves as the marketing manager for TWR MOTION.



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