What does Hollywood have to do with Jesus and Hispanics? Not a question many expect to hear often on Hollywood Boulevard or in the corridors of the biggest movie studios in the country. But it's a new day in the country and Hollywood. After the overwhelming success of The Bible mini-series the nation took note of two important facts, "Jesus is always in high demand and he's got a multicultural crowd of disciples!" What Mark Burnett and Roma Downey understood early on is that the Bible stories have universal appeal. I am glad that they took that conviction to the big-screen with the release of Son of God this weekend.
For some time, The National Latino Evangelical Coalition (NaLEC) has worked with Hollywood power couple, Mark and Roma, to focus outreach on Hispanics. Mark and Roma have an unflinching commitment to bring Jesus to an entire new generation in the broadest way possible. The characters of The Bible mini-series included an African-Diaspora Samson, an Asian angel, and a Portuguese Jesus. Mark and Roma made the Bible come to life with a kaleidoscope of faces that underlines the inclusivity of the Gospel message. NaLEC was so happy to host some pre-screenings with hundreds of Hispanic Evangelicals in key cities with large Latino populations. Together we understand that the growing population of Hispanics is a critical part of the U.S. faith community.
Their faith took an even larger leap when they decided to simultaneously release Son of God , in Spanish. This first-of-its-kind effort was matched by the producers fervant outreach to Hispanic communities. In addition, to partnering with NaLEC and Archbishop Gomez, Mark and Roma partnered with Arenas Entertainment and had key outreach on major Spanish-language media like Enlace and Telemundo. The investment paid off.
This weekend, Hispanics made up 22 percent of the viewership at Son of God's premier around the country. We were a major part of theater-takeover initiatives all over the country. The love and kindness of Jesus was experienced by entire Hispanic families together, from abuelita to grandchildren. The message for the country and Hollywood is that love knows no barriers. The same universal message of love, forgiveness, and redemption that the Son of God offers will never fade away. Simply put, the stories of grace and resurrection are timeless. The close to 8 million Hispanic evangelicals in this country were so enthusiastic when we heard that Son of God was pre-screened in key Korean, African-American, and young evangelical gatherings. What this said to us and the country is that it's a new day for the timeless story.
I know that in the months and years to come there wll be an up-tick in films about the Bible. What we hope and pray for is that this one essential ingredient is included in all of them, love. For in the end, love wins not just in the box office but in the hearts of men, women, and children who God loves!