Many of the leaders believed in Him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue. For they loved praise from men more than praise from God. 
John 12:42,43

A lot of good things come with age, and one of them is the freedom to speak your mind. When I was younger, I was more guarded in that respect. Now, however, I’m reaching the age where I find myself becoming more and more like the guy with this T-shirt:

Some years ago, I watched a local reporter interviewing a woman who at the age of 100 was still working in a factory. She was an unassuming lady who didn’t look her age. As the interview drew to a close, the reporter asked her if she had anything more she wanted to say. The old lady giggled a bit. “What would I talk about?” she asked. The reporter didn’t miss a beat, replying, “Ma’am, you’re a hundred years old. You can talk about anything you want!”

To my mind, that would certainly include talking about Jesus.
I’ll drill down a bit further. Who is Jesus to you? Are you ashamed of him, or a bit embarrassed of him, in this present generation?

I have been a filmmaker by profession for forty-five years now. For thirty-eight of those years, I have wrestled with the question of how best to bring the Gospel to the world. I founded Messenger Films as a vehicle for doing just that. But let me be honest. In the early years, I was like the temperance preacher who had once been a notorious drunkard. There was no middle ground. 

You’ve heard about my time living in New York. For thirteen years, the Big Apple was home. It was in New York that I first professed faith in Christ and called myself a Christian. It was also where I delivered pizzas for a living. At the time, I saw it as a “tentmaking” job, something to generate a little income while building up the ministry of Messenger Films. But after a few years of racing around Staten Island in—yes—the little Toyota Corolla you’ve read about, I realized my growing family needed more, and better, of me.

One day, I went to a print shop on Staten Island to get a more professional-looking résumé (and, I hoped, a better paying tentmaking job). I had written a first draft of the résumé, and at the end under Skills, Hobbies, and Interests, had entered this line: “I am a follower of Jesus Christ.”

The owner of the print shop, a soft-spoken man, peered at me over his eyeglasses and said, “I think you might want to take that line out.”

“Why is that?” I asked, ready to pounce.

“It will probably cut down on your job offers.”

I pounced. “Leave it the way it is,” I said. 

During this time of my life, I was very active at church, leading a small group of other believers preaching on the sidewalks of Manhattan. We each took turns addressing the crowd, using a bullhorn to cut through the din of the noisy streets. We held nothing back in those heady days on the battlements of Midtown. We were full of excitement and fire and desire to see sinners turn from their errant ways! Never mind that most people walked past us or crossed the street altogether to avoid coming near. We were preaching, brother!
Which reminds me of another T-shirt I especially like:


For the record, there were those who stopped to listen. Some even prayed to receive Christ as Savior. Those moments were always special for me! What could be sweeter than leading someone to Jesus? This evangelical zeal carried over into my filmmaking career as well. In those early years, I envisioned myself making movies that had no credits except one: “Jesus Christ, Executive Producer.” I set out to make films that would take sinners from A to Z in two hours or less with the guarantee of a “sinner’s prayer” somewhere near the end to seal the deal. 
I’ve changed my approach to filmmaking since then, though not entirely so. And this brings me to the principal point of this month’s reflection. I was not, am not, and will not be ashamed to name the Name in my life or in any of my films. Yes, I have to find a way to tell a story (make a film) without the audience feeling they’ve been taken hostage for two hours of unwelcome indoctrination! But I cannot be afraid of taking a stand. I must not hide my light under a bushel. What good is the salt if it loses its savor (Matthew 5:13)?
Here’s the truth: to be an open follower of Jesus is to always run the risk of being put out of the synagogue, out of “polite society” if you will. Typically, the blowback centers around being too “narrow” in your beliefs, often escalating into being deemed “intolerant.” The pressure is always there to keep the Good News to yourself.
I find this odd. Our rabbi, our teacher, never told us to keep our faith quiet. For a few years during his public ministry on earth, he kept his true identity a bit under wraps, yes, but all that went by the wayside when the Spirit came down at Pentecost and his followers began “shouting from the rooftops” (Matthew 10:27)! They preached to thousands and they preached to one. They preached to Gentiles and to Jews. They preached in Caesar’s palace and they preached in jail. They confessed his name in the marketplace and in the martyrs’ fire, and the Gospel spread throughout the world.
The question for me becomes how can I as a filmmaker express my love for God in such a way that people are drawn to the Divine and not needlessly pushed away? Let’s be honest. Preaching on the street corner through a bullhorn, cinematically speaking, might not be the best approach to engaging an audience. At the same time, if we buy into the idea that Christian content can only serve to entertain Christians, we have lost our way, or worse, never found it. I’m under no illusions. The preaching of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing (1 Corinthians 1:18). It causes offense. But it is the only hope for millions.
This is the audience I am trying to reach: the poor… the captives… the blind… the oppressed. Some are Christians, more are not. They are despairing. They dwell in a land of darkness. They need the Lord.

Cris looks out at the timeless sea
The Parish of St. Elizabeth, Jamaica, April 2022

If I am ashamed of the Name, how will I help them? “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). To hold back on this point is to treat the human race with contempt. If Christ really is the savior of the world, how can I keep quiet? To be ashamed of him in this corrupt and evil generation (which has been around for thousands of years) is the most cowardly act I can imagine. Let them put me out of the “synagogue” of mainstream acceptability. I don’t care. I will yet look for ways to introduce him to others through my films and books.

On that note, look for Let Me Have My Son to be released late this summer. It is my joy to report that a generous donor has made it possible for us to finish post-production on the film!

That’s not to let you off the hook, though. We are now raising money for the distribution and marketing of the film. Care to help? ¡Juntos Podemos!

And this one, special request. Will you pray for me? Will you ask God to give me strength, insight, and creativity for future projects? I belong to him.  
Truly yours,

P.S. For further insight on my approach to filmmaking, I invite you to read my master’s thesis: The Role of Film in the Process of Conversion to Christianity. Read it Now.
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Cristóbal Krusen is a filmmaker and author. He founded Messenger Films in 1988.

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