This powerfully significant film based on the classic story with universal themes, The Pilgrim’s Progress, is coming to theaters for the first time and has been produced to serve missions and missionaries around the world! Written by John Bunyan, this powerful classic will be in theaters this Easter, April 18th and 20th, as a special Fathom Event. It is a film created specifically to inspire American families as well as to support missionaries and churches in volatile regions around the world. This project has been designed to strengthen families in the west who are struggling with issues of what is Truth, as well as for people working in missions, especially in areas where it is illegal to have a Bible or to meet together as a church.
The Pilgrim’s Progress is the best-selling fiction book in history. It has never been out of print. It is the first novel written in English
This epic story of the journey of Christian and his burden still resonates with readers today, just as it did 340 years ago! The Pilgrim’s Progress is a film that can give us courage to live out our faith in a culture that often stands against it and can make us believe that the easy path is the one to take, and can cause us to question Biblical Truth.
Because this film is both animated and an allegory, it is a good tool to help missionaries share the Christian journey in countries where believers often face persecution.
The Pilgrim’s Progress features the voices of: John Rhys-Davies (The Lord of the Rings); Kristyn Getty (In Christ Alone); and Ben Price (America’s Got Talent).
This is a film of firsts:
- The first time the story has been created for a theatrical release
- The first time the story is told with CGI Animation
- The first film since the Jesus Movie created specifically to aid missions worldwide
The filmmakers have committed to donate this film to missionaries, home church leaders, underground church leaders, and others around the world, in 100 languages. The film is already being translated into 26 languages most often in regions where Christians face extreme danger, including Mandarin, Spanish and Farsi. On Easter weekend, The Pilgrim’s Progress will be aired on the second largest network in Iran – with an estimated audience of 6 million people.
Producer Steve Cleary started his work in missions in 1989 as a volunteer for The Voice of the Martyrs. He joined the staff in 1990 and soon after had the honor of traveling with VOM founders Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand. Being able to spend the last decade of their lives with them became the biggest blessing and honor of Steve’s life. He continues with VOM as a contractor and has traveled with them to hostile and restricted nations around the world, including Cuba, Sudan, Northern Nigeria, borders of North Korea and most recently Iraq during the ISIS occupation.
In 2015, Steve and Robert Fernandez began an animation studio in San Jose, Costa Rica. It was at this time he began to see both the tremendous need and opportunity of making films for the mission field. In January 2017, Steve officially founded and launched the ministry Revelation Media, which is committed to providing quality and culturally engaging media for the global missions community. His projects include the movie Tortured for Christ, The Pilgrim’s Progress (a CGI animated, feature-length film), and The Animated Bible (a visual narrative of the entire Bible).
Sonoma Christian Home had the privilege of an exclusive interview with Steve Cleary. SCH Editor at Large Dr. Diane Howard reports.
SCH: Having served and traveled with Voice of the Martyrs, Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand, what did you learn and experience with them?
SC: I saw them in real life. Richard taught me to write books, make movies. They were also focused on the scripture, as they engaged with people. Sabina would only teach scripture. She would open her Bible and read it without looking at it. Richard had a photographic memory. He knew 14 languages. I saw the room where he was tortured. It was like an underground maze. We filmed there for the movie on his life, Tortured for Christ. To learn more about him, go to Tortured for Christ
Richard Wurmbrand’s book Tortured for Christ led me into missions work and a 20-year journey to where I am now. The Pilgrim’s Progress was one of his favorite books. He paid to have it translated.
SCH: Having traveled and worked in hostile and restricted areas, how have you seen God work in surprising ways?
SC: In refugee camps I have seen refugees move in stages from despair to returning to the joy of Lord. I have seen Christian refuges express the joy and honor they feel as Christians and the ability to forgive. I have been in refugee camps where unhappy people were not seen. Although they have come to the camps in shock, within weeks and months they have begun to recover. Like in The Pilgrim’s Progress they were on glorious journeys with difficulties along the way.
SCH: How have your experiences in hostile and restricted nations around the world guided your thinking as to how to best serve such areas with the gospel and Biblical truth?
SC: I have learned that America is not the world and what applies here may not apply in Syrian refugee camps. I have learned to look with a worldwide perspective. My colleagues and I want to develop media to translate to the world. This is why we use tools such as animation, allegory, and a known book. We want to dub with real languages and not use subtitles. We want to produce visual media for the mission field starving for content. We want to encourage Christians all over the world to stay on the path, as we see Christian needed to do in The Pilgrim’s Progress. We have seen that the most popular movies in areas around the world where there were missions activities have been pirated animated movies such as Disney movies, which were most popular. We want to produce animated movies that will have the most appeal on missions sites.
SCH: Why did you produce this film?
SC: There is a great need on the mission field for good media. After the Jesus film was produced for missions settings around the world 39 years ago, little other Christian media followed it.
SCH: Who are your target audiences and why did you select them?
SC: We have identified 100 languages that are spoken by more than 90% of world populations. Phase One involves 20 languages that were selected for frontline missions working with the persecuted. Phase Two involves top languages and then we hope to cover every language on the earth. We want to re-release The Pilgrim’s Progress book and a New Testament with John Bunyan quotations. These can be translated. There can be other applications of our work, which is to be offered free for those involved in missions.
The Pilgrim’s Progress is about a man named Pilgrim, who discovers a book. The more he reads it, the more he is convicted of sin and judgment, and a burden begins to develop on his back. Obsessed with discovering the truth and escaping his town, the City of Destruction, he ventures outside the forbidden borders and begins his journey to find a Celestial City ruled by a good and noble King, meeting friends and foes along the way.
The Pilgrim’s Progress was written over 340 years ago, by John Bunyan when he was in prison. The story has been smuggled to the underground church during communism, banned for a time in China, and has sold more copies than any other book other than the Bible! The journey of this remarkable work continues as Revelation Media brings the story to a new generation using state-of-the-art CGI animation.
This film has a Missions-First Mindset. The filmmakers did not just make The Pilgrim’s Progress to entertain but to share essential truths with American Families and others around the world. The film was created to bring the story of the journey of the Christian life to people around the globe, especially those in regions where being a Christ-follower may mean persecution.
Funds raised from donations to Revelation Media and from ticket sales in theaters will go directly to translating the film into the world’s top 100 languages and dialects. Commitments have already been secured to fund no less than 26 key languages. The character’s voices will be re-recorded with popular talent from each individual region of the world. Translations in Mandarin, Farsi, and Spanish are already being created. On Easter weekend, The Pilgrim’s Progress will air on Iran’s second-largest TV network – realistically reaching 8 million Iranians, in their native language.
Because the film is animated, and an allegory, it is not viewed by hostile governments as a threat to their people like The Bible or The Jesus Film. The Pilgrim’s Progress offers missionaries, leaders of house churches, educators, and pastors around the world a free resource to share Gospel-truths via the powerful story of Christian and his burden.
See the film’s website, Pilgrims Movie, which features JJ Heller performing a haunting cover of the Amy Grant classic ‘Thy Word’ (such a perfect song about the journey of Christian on his way to the Celestial City!). Also, see the trailer. Follow this film on Facebook and Twitter . To purchase tickets, go to Fathom Events.
To learn more about this author, please visit Diane Howard, Ph.D. (Performance Studies).