Episodes of “The Chosen,” a series about Jesus created by Dallas Jenkins, son of Colorado Springs’ bestselling writer Jerry Jenkins, have been streamed 420 million times.
Praised for its authenticity and intimate depictions of the daily lives of Jesus and his disciples, the series now has spawned a nonprofit that will invest in translating and distributing it free worldwide.
The goal of the Come and See Foundation, founded in October by veterans of Christian publishing, retailing and Bible translation, is to reach a billion people with free versions of the series in hundreds of languages.
“We’ve come alongside Dallas Jenkins to fulfill the mission to reach the first 1 billion people with an experience of the authentic Jesus trough ‘The Chosen,’” said CEO Stan Jantz, a bestselling author and former president of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association.
Jantz said the foundation will partner with Jenkins’ for-profit film company to dub all 56 episodes in the seven seasons of “The Chosen” into 100 languages and subtitle it in 500 more languages. The third season starts streaming Sunday .
Charles Ryan Dunham, who previously served as a senior vice president of Springs-based David C Cook and president of Cook-owned Integrity Music, is part of the Come and See team. Cook has published study guides that explore the New Testament passages that inspired the series.
The foundation issued a news release with a Colorado Springs dateline, but the new nonprofit has no office here, or even a budget, and is operating on funding from a foundation that wishes to remain anonymous.
The foundation launched its new app last Sunday, Dec. 4, offering viewers the chance to view episodes from the first two seasons of “The Chosen” that have been dubbed or translated. Season one is being translated into 74 languages, with 12 in dubbed translations and 62 with subtitles. Season two has been dubbed into two languages with subtitles available in seven additional languages.
The app can be downloaded now for free from the Apple App Store, Google Play or by going to http://thechosen.tv/app.
Through a partnership with the YouVersion Bible, people who view episodes of “The Chosen” can link to Bible passages cited in the episodes.
This isn’t the first time a movie has been used to reach the masses. “Jesus,” a 1979 film created by Campus Crusade for Christ, now Cru, is the most-translated and possibly most-viewed film in history. Representatives of Cru’s Jesus Film Project claim the film has been seen 8.1 billion times by 4 billion people, but critics say the numbers may be inflated.
“The ‘Jesus’ film did extraordinary work to bring gospel of Jesus to billions of people,” says Come and See’s Stan Jantz. “‘The Chosen’ is the ‘Jesus’ film for a new generation.”
Jantz says “The Chosen” is not only a newer film with more contemporary production values, but its 56 episodes also allow people to go deeper into the story of Jesus.
For example, in “Jesus,” which was based on the Gospel of Luke, viewers see Jesus commission his 12 disciples to go out to proclaim the Kingdom of God in pairs. But in “The Chosen,” one disciple quibbles about Jesus’ command that they take nothing with them when they go, not even an extra tunic. Another complains about the partner he was assigned.
“‘The Chosen’ is such a beautiful door opener,” Jantz said. “His humanity helps us identify with him in human form, without denying his divinity.”
Come and See has partnered with Gloo, the Colorado-based data and marketing company, to work with churches in promoting “The Chosen” series.
“We want to help people meet the authentic Jesus through ‘The Chosen’,” Jantz said. “This is a message of hope and healing at a time when the world is in turmoil.”
Come and See is soliciting donations to fund translation and distribution, and “to assist ‘The Chosen’ to continue its production of future episodes,” said a news release.