For eight days and ten nights, ten faith-based movies will be showing for free this week with the hope of leading hundreds to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
The annual Greater Orlando Christian Film Festival, which kicks off Thursday at Regal Cinemas in Orlando, will feature movies including "Facing the Giants," "Pilgrim's Progress – Journey to Heaven," "Most (The Bridge)," and newly released "Saving God," starring Hollywood actor Ving Rhames.
Also present will be special guests including producer and director Rich Christiano and actress Erin Bethea, who stars in the box office hit "Fireproof," which has grossed over $16.9 million in less than a month.
"It's a very unique ministry," says Tom Saab, founder and president of the Christian Film Festivals of America, Inc., about his organization.
"We've been recognized as the most unique evangelistic ministry in the United States," he adds.
Since the founding of the Christian Film Festivals of America, 33 film festivals have been held around the country, including more than a dozen in New England, and a handful in California, Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee and New York.
At each festival, ten to 14 different Christian movies are presented from approximately 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. for seven to eight days. At the end of every show, a live invitation is given and trained counselors minister to and pray for those who respond.
"The one and only purpose of the Christian Film Festival is evangelism with the ultimate goal of leading people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ," the ministry states in its website.
Last year's festival in Orlando reached over 13,000 in attendance and resulted in 649 decisions for Christ. This year, 67 churches and 13 parachurch organizations, including Orlando-based Campus Crusade for Christ and Wycliffe Bible Associates, have teamed up with the festival for a citywide outreach. Some 19,000 people are expected to attend this year.
Admission to each and every show is free and no offering is taken in the theater.
"We don't want to intimidate or turn off the unsaved people who are coming to hear the good news of Jesus Christ," Saab explains.
In the hallways of each theater, thousands of Christian literature, Bible tracts, booklets, magazines and devotionals are offered free to festival attendants and passerbys while hundreds of Christians DVDs are sold at discounted prices to help fund the evangelistic outreach.
Christians throughout the Orlando area are being encouraged to come to the upcoming film festival and bring with them an unsaved relative or friend.
"In many cases, they'll see their own family member or friend going forward, surrendering their life to Christ, experiencing the miracle of new birth," reports Saab.
"This is the most important part of the ministry," he adds. "And so we pray that many people will get involved in the personal evangelism outreach."
To date, over 320,000 people have attended a Christian Film Festival and nearly 20,000 commitments to Christ have been made. Future film festivals are scheduled for Massachusetts and Greenville, S.C., while discussions have taken place for potential film festivals in Tampa, Fla., Indianapolis, Ind., and San Diego, Calif.