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Churches campaign for 'Jesus' videotape

Feb. 1, 2001

Group's goal to inundate Texas

By JOHN HALL

Staff Writer

A group of Christian denominations is raising money to finance an effort to put a 'Jesus' video in every residence from New Braunfels, just north of San Antonio, to Waxahachie, 45 minutes north of Waco, along the Interstate 35 corridor.

Churches of several denominations, including Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, Pentecostal and Assembly of God, have joined together to raise $225,000 to give videos to the 90,000 residences in McLennan County. The videos depict the life of Jesus as told in the Gospel of Luke.

The group hopes to distribute the videos March 26, just before the Easter season.

'We want it to be a blessing to every residence,' said Ramiro Pena, the area director of the project. 'Hopefully it will be viewed as a historically accurate gift around the season. We are simply trying to bless our county in what we hope will be a non-threatening way.'

Despite these intentions, one student questioned the movie's representation of Christianity.

'I would watch the movie but I wouldn't see it as an invitation to become a Christian,' Laurel Laviolete, a Needville junior, said. 'I think a movie is a poor representation of Christianity.'

She also said she was skeptical about the ethics of sending people a video they did not order. 'I think people in general would watch it, I just don't know if I agree with baiting people like that.'

Pena said the movie, which has been translated into more than 600 languages and viewed all over the world, is the most watched movie in history, seen by more than 2 billion people. He estimated there has been one conversion for every three or four videos that are passed out.

He said the video is sent into the household because a 'statement of faith is a personal issue' and he felt it would be watched 'over and over again.'

He said owned videos are watched an average of nine times and households with children watch them an average of 15 times.

Pena said if this effort is successful, all the residences in Texas would receive a video in the fall. He also said 15 states are watching the Texas plan unfold and may implement a similar operation.

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