February 2018

Sharing the Gospel through Musical Film


Our ministry partner, Kanal Hayat run a Christian TV channel which is broadcast into Turkey and other parts of the Middle East. Kanal Hayat broadcasts a packed programming schedule 24/7 and arranges follow-up meetings with viewers who get in touch with them to find out more about the Gospel.

Jay Moussa is the daughter of one of Kanal Hayat’s ministry leaders, and she is producing a feature film musical based on the story of Ruth in the Bible, which will be broadcast to millions of people through Kanal Hayat and other broadcasters. We caught up with Jay to find out more about this project and why it’s so important.

Jay, what made you decide to create this film musical based on the story of Ruth?

I always wanted to do a musical and to combine film-making with making the Bible come alive for people. I wanted this musical to be something worthwhile, and in my eyes that means telling people about God. I think that songs can reach people in a way that words can’t, that’s why I wanted to bring the two together. When I read the story of Ruth it really spoke to me, because it was similar to my story of moving from one country to another as I had moved from the UK to Turkey and my family were doing ministry there. The story of Ruth is very close to Middle Eastern culture and I just felt like it would really reach people from that area of the world.

I think the story of Ruth is one of the most powerful stories in the Bible. It reflects God’s love and what Christ is to us through the characters. They all trust in God and because of their obedience, the line of Jesus comes from them. I also think it’s about the beautiful relationships that are found in the family and accepting people who we maybe don’t think are worthy. Especially with the immigrant situation at the moment and how people are being treated.

Do you feel that this is a story a lot of people can relate to?

Yes I do, because there are all these different characters within the story and different levels that people can relate to. It deals with loss, loneliness and isolation, among other things. I personally relate to Ruth because she moves from one country to another where she’s looked down upon because she’s a ‘foreigner’. Because I’ve grown up in two different cultures I’ve always felt like I never fit into either country and it was only through discovering my relationship with God that I realised it doesn’t matter that I don’t fit here on earth, it only matters that I fit with him. I think there are a lot of people who would also relate to that.

What are your hopes for what the film will achieve?

My aim is to get people interested in the Bible. I have a real love for the Bible but I think a lot of Christians don’t spend time in it anymore. I feel like people find it difficult to visualise stories in the Bible and I wanted to make something that people can apply to themselves and that will draw them to reading the Bible. I don’t think films themselves can change somebody’s heart, but they can share the Gospel and lead people towards the Bible and towards God.

One way that we have tried to do this, is to show the genealogy at the end of the film, and how the characters in the story are linked to Jesus. I thought that might encourage people to go and research and draw people to the actual story.

Ruth musical 3
Ruth Musical 1

Where are you up to so far with the project

We are currently in pre-production, we’re still casting, building sets and raising funds. We’re aiming to film this summer with the intention of completing in March 2019.

What is the plan for the film once it is complete?

This film will be an English version, but we will be creating versions that will be dubbed in Turkish and Arabic which will be broadcast on Kanal Hayat to millions of viewers in the Middle East. It will also be broadcast in the USA and Australia. My plan has always been that it doesn’t just get stuck in Christian circles, I’d really like to see it somewhere like Netflix, where anyone can access it. The wider plan is that we will eventually shoot the film in Turkey in Turkish.

Why do you think it’s so important to produce this kind of content for the Middle East?

In the Middle East, Christianity and the Bible have a bad name. Muslims are taught one thing about Christians which is that they have distorted the Bible. They look at Western TV and see girls dressed skimpily, which is so anti their culture and modesty; and they then equate that with Christianity.

Having grown up in Turkey, people are so much more open to God there, they believe there is a God which is something that’s missing from the west. They really want to please God, it’s just finding out how they can have that personal relationship with him.

I also think something really important about this film will be the perspective of women. In this story, both Naomi and Ruth lose their husbands. In the UK, it’s quite hard to image that you couldn’t survive without a man in the family, but in parts of the Middle East this can be true. If you’re not married or you don’t have an older brother you can’t survive because you can’t get a job; nobody respects you as just a woman. I think that aspect of the story will really resonate with a lot of women in the Middle East.

You are still raising funds to complete the film-making. Why should people be encouraged to support this project?

Because it’s another way to lead people to the Bible. We’re really trying to stay very close to the real story of Ruth and not changing things for dramatic effect. There’s a lot of imagery in the film which I think will affect and audience and the songs are all taken from Bible verses. It’s quite evangelical and very open.

I think music and films are really underestimated and not utilised enough in reaching people with the Gospel and I think it’s quite fresh to have something that’s story-driven. People really connect with stories and visuals and when you put it together with music it can really reach people. It’s a beautiful symbol of what Jesus did for us, I think that’s why it’s such a powerful story.

How can we pray for you?

It can be really overwhelming making a feature film and we’re such a small team so prayer for focus would be helpful and that we give it back to God every time the stress becomes too much. Also prayer that we would be a witness to everybody involved would be helpful; that while we’re doing it we’re showing that God is in control. We would also appreciate prayer for the rest of the casting that we need to do, that God will provide the right people and for wisdom when we’re making important decisions.