There’s a familiar story that travels around from time to time in the offices of Mars Hill Productions, a non-profit, non-denominational media ministry located in Southwest Houston. You might hear it told in a staff meeting where media missionaries gather for devotion and prayer each week, or perhaps over coffee with a pastor wondering how to mobilize his congregation for world missions. It goes something like this;
There was once a group of miners trapped in a mine. They attempted to dig their way to freedom, but eventually gave up, believing the task to be impossible. Sometime later, their bodies were discovered and it was realized they had only but a few feet to go before they would have reached an open tunnel.
Rather jolting, the picture of these miners just at the brink of their goal continues to drive the mission and ministry focus of Mars Hill Productions in a new day and age. The miners? The Body of Christ. The goal at hand? The completion of the Global Great Commission, seeing disciples made from all nations and the throne room of God filled with people from every tribe and tongue declaring His Glory!
For more than 30 years, Mars Hill has produced award winning films and videos used around the world to introduce thousands of people to Jesus Christ. Beginning in 1977 as a division of Youth for Christ, Mars Hill spun off as a separate ministry in 1988. Throughout the 90’s, Mars Hill films were used to see thousands of teenagers come to faith in Jesus Christ.
Since 2002, Mars Hill’s primary focus has shifted to The HOPE, an 80-minute film that tells God’s redemptive story from creation through Christ as told through 36 biblical events. With a unique cultural adaptability by using native, on-screen storytellers, The HOPE has helped share the unified story of the Scriptures to unreached and unengaged people groups the world over. At the time of this article over 60 languages have been completed with another 40 in various stages of production including projects in Pakistan, 14 Indian languages, and Indonesia – the largest Muslim country in the world today.
Over the past decade, The Lord has exponentially expanded the reach of The HOPE. From remote villages in the Himalayas to the underground church in the Middle East and refugee camps throughout Europe – missionaries have incorporated the HOPE as a core of their missions’ strategies. While many partners show The HOPE as an outreach movie presentation, others choose to use a derivate project like The HOPE ESL computer software or The HOPE Study Guide to disciple small groups, equip new believers, and train future church planters and pastors.
The Mars Hill team works to equip believers so that, unlike the miners from our story, the Church will not give up on pursuing its goal, the global great commission. The task is big, the cost is high, but the Glory of God declared among the nations is worth it all.
Today, more than any time in history, the Church has been positioned to make the gospel of Jesus available worldwide.
In 1984 missiologist David B Barrett published an article describing the five statistical eras of global mission throughout history. Over twenty years ago, Barret looked ahead to what he called “The Global Discipline Era” where he saw the evangelical world heading. He argued that from 1990 onward, there would be a new aim of missions in the Church to disciple the world. He saw a future where “everyone in the entire world could shortly become, or be made to become, sufficiently aware of Christianity, Christ and the gospel”. This new era in church missions would have one main characteristic, “Global access to all; that is access by Christians to all people, and access by all people to the Christian faith.”
In 2016, the media missionaries at Mars Hill witness Barrett’s vision first hand. In a globally connected world, The HOPE’s online internet ministry provides 24/7 streaming of the film that can be accessed almost anywhere in the world. No wi-fi, no problem. Mars Hill has partnered with churches and mission organizations in getting The HOPE on mircroSD cards or USB Thumb Drives for discreet distribution in closed access or high security countries.
Every time a new language adaptation of The HOPE is distributed, every time The HOPE is viewed online by a Hindu man in India, and with every “I was a follower of Muhammad, now I’m a worshiper of Jesus” message received, God’s glory is being made known to more and more nations every day. How will you be a part of it? Fred Carpenter, president and co-founder of Mars Hill asks a simple question,
Do you look forward to the day when evil is vanquished and righteousness dwells in the earth? That day is coming. But it will not come until the last unreached nation has been reached with the Gospel. 2 Peter 3:12 challenges us to be ‘looking for and hastening the coming’ of that day. We do not hasten it in the sense that we can actually change the date. By His authority God has appointed such things (Acts 1:7). We do however have the privilege of participating in the hastening of that day if we so choose.
I believe we hasten the coming of that day by doing our part to complete the Great Commission. Do you want to hasten that day? What is He calling you to do?
Mars Hill is currently seeking to fill a few key staff positions and needs men and women whom God has called and prepared to join us in using media to reach the world for Christ. If you would like more information about our open positions, including a Director of Communications, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Ryan Renfrow, serves as Ministry Partnering Director at Mars Hill Productions. Since his first mission trip to Thailand as a teenager, Ryan has had a heart for mobilizing the Body of Christ in missions and evangelism. A graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Ryan quickly saw The HOPE as a creative and innovative approach to making disciples among the nations. He enjoys seeing his talents and skills used in such a unique, God-glorifying way! In his spare time, Ryan serves his local church and often reads too many books at one time. Follow Ryan on Twitter and Instagram @renfrowryan.
 Barrett, David B. Five Statistical Eras of Global Mission: A Thesis and Discussion. New Haven, CT: International Bulletin of Mission Research, Oct. 1984. PDF.
 Carpenter, Fred. “Make Your Life Count.” Mars-Hill.org. Web.