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Five Loaves, Two Fish, and Eight Episodes

Five Loaves, Two Fish, and Eight Episodes

FALL/WINTER 2021    |    4.5 MINUTE READ
CYDIL WAGGONER, MISSIONARY IN ALBANIA


Has Jesus ever looked into your eyes and spoken directly to you?

If you’ve ever seen the TV show The Chosen, you’ve experienced this. Though the show features an actor and not Jesus Himself, I’m guessing that experience was still a powerful one. I know it was for my husband, Nathan, and me. The first time we saw The Chosen, we knew we wanted our friends here in Albania to see it and to hear Jesus speaking directly to them in their heart language.

The problem was the show hadn’t been translated into Albanian.

Yet.

Colorful fish swimming in a circle around the words "The Chosen Volunteer Translation Team"

The Chosen does things a little differently than most TV shows (hence the tagline, “Get used to different”). First of all, the show used a fundraising method called crowdfunding, which uses people’s online donations to fund the project. It became the most successful media project to be crowdfunded in history, raising around $12 million to produce season one. Second of all, the show is completely free for anyone to watch. All you need is an internet connection.

When we explored a way to share the show with our Albanian friends, we discovered another way The Chosen is unique: the distributors welcome the help of volunteers who want to translate the subtitles into a different language. Everyone is invited to bring their five loaves and two fish to give them to God to do with what He wants.

Six volunteer translators in a brightly lit kitchen, some working on laptops

The Albanian team works on the early stages of The Chosen translation.

After learning about this translation opportunity, Nathan and I decided to tackle the task along with a few friends who were also passionate about the show. Once we got started, though, we realized just how big of an undertaking we had committed to.

Soon after we began translating in November 2019, a huge earthquake hit Albania and kept us from moving forward for a while. I had doubts about how we could make schedules and timing work and figured it would take us at least a year to finish translating all eight episodes of season one. But God had a plan in mind. When Albania shut down—along with much of the rest of the world—in March 2020, people were suddenly asking, “How can I make a difference for the kingdom from my home during COVID?” We had an answer ready for them.

Two men and two women working on laptops in a large room.

The season one Albanian translation team is hard at work in the ministry center.

Our ministry center was a perfect place for the volunteer translators to gather and complete the project while social distancing. We set up workstations and a dry-erase board where we could track our progress; by the end of April 2020, we had the entire first season translated into Albanian.

During the translation process, we’d run into some different questions that we couldn’t answer on our own. My cousin, Dallas Jenkins, is the director of The Chosen, but I didn’t want to go to him with every question. And I figured that volunteer translators in other countries were surely facing these same questions! So I decided to turn to Facebook. What started out as a handful of conversations developed into a Facebook group for more than 800 volunteers around the world who are translating The Chosen.

I’m amazed by the dedication of these volunteers who work tirelessly to share the story of Jesus in nearly seventy different languages, including Arabic, Russian, modern Hebrew, and traditional Chinese. Among the volunteers are other WGM global workers: Brandon and Izumi Kuba in Japan, Titus and Jewel Romdenh in Cambodia, and Eszti Landerholm in Hungary.

A smiling Cydil Waggoner with her laptop sitting in front of the Albanian flag beside a whiteboard with checklists

Cydil Waggoner works with translators from around the world who are translating The Chosen into nearly seventy languages.

The translation team has really become a family of sorts. One volunteer from Croatia is a perfect example of this; she was saved while watching The Chosen, then found the translation group. She got connected to a team and is now being discipled in her faith by her fellow translators. Members of our Hebrew team have also taught us so much about aspects of Jewish culture and faith practices that have enriched my own understanding of Scripture—and that of many others, I’m sure. The translation process has helped us connect with the worldwide body of Christ, and we all agree that to be part of something this big is a gift.


People are remembering Bible verses, getting curious about God’s Word, and fact-checking the show to find out the deeper history and context of the stories it tells. They’re going deeper in their relationships with God and discovering just how radical His love for them is.


My missionary heart is so happy to see God’s family reaching out to invite more people into His story of redemption. God is using these volunteers to allow many people to hear Jesus speak in their own heart language for maybe the first time ever. It’s such a unique way to introduce Jesus to people who might not otherwise open a Bible, and we’ve witnessed the transformation it’s bringing to lives right here in our village. People are remembering Bible verses, getting curious about God’s Word, and fact-checking the show to find out the deeper history and context of the stories it tells. They’re going deeper in their relationships with God and discovering just how radical His love for them is.

A graphic for the Albanian version of The Chosen

This show is so much more than just a TV show. God is working through it to tell people, “I see you.” That’s the message of The Chosen. Jesus is compassionate, and He’s here with you in whatever situation you’re facing. Whether you relate to the woman at the well, the paralytic who was lowered through the roof, or the Pharisees, Jesus sees you. When you watch this show and hear God’s Word come alive in your own language, you can’t help but fall deeper in love with Jesus.

ACTION STEPS

PRAY: Pray about who you could invite to watch The Chosen with you and ask God for His Word to come alive to them. Also, pray for the show’s translators as they work to share its message with more people.

GO: Are you fluent in more than one language? Consider joining the team of volunteer translators to continue spreading the story of Jesus’ life to new people groups. Search for “The Chosen Volunteer Translation Team” on Facebook to join the group and start the conversation.

WATCH: You can watch The Chosen through the app on your phone or online through Peacock or Angel Studios.


Missionary Bio: Cydil Waggoner and her husband, Nathan, served as directors of WGM’s Student Involvement Center at Asbury University for thirteen years before becoming global workers in Albania, where they have lived and served with their two children, Ellie and Reni, for the past eight years.


The Call (Fall/Winter 2021)

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