Campus Crusade for Christ will be sponsoring a free screening of “The Passion of the Christ” to more than 3,000 students from the University of Central Florida (UCF) on Good Friday, April 9, 2004, at 8 p.m. The showing at the UCF Arena in Orlando, Florida, will be the first showing of the Mel Gibson film outside of a theater since its release.
“The Passion of The Christ has gripped the student community at UCF like nothing we have ever seen before,” says Dan Dillard, director of the UCF chapter of Campus Crusade.
Organizers of the event are considering showing a video introduction by Mel Gibson, Jim Caviezel or a local media personality before the screening.
Promotion of the event has received such a great response that a second showing of the movie at 10 p.m. can be expected.
Both students and faculty of UCF are invited to attend the event free of charge. Attendees will receive a copy of a new book including both The Life of Jesus, a chronological compilation of the Gospels, on one side and Josh McDowell’s More Than a Carpenter, an answer booklet to historical questions about Jesus, featured on the other side.
Tony Arnold, spokesman for the United States Campus Ministry of CCC, said the books are a wonderful complement to the movie to help answer questions students may have about Jesus.
“Many people come into the movie with a very superficial knowledge of Jesus and many have never read the Bible. Packaging the two books in one definitely complements the effort to educate and inform people who have gone to the movie,” said Arnold, who will watch the movie for the third time this Friday. He said The Life of Jesus will allow students to read about who Jesus is while More Than a Carpenter will resolve doubts and verify for students that the former book was an accurate account of the life of Jesus.
Although no large event has been planned following the movie, there is no doubt that students will take the initiative to promote discussion among their friends accompanying them as they go out to eat or for coffee afterwards, according to Arnold.
“Hundreds of students have been trained in advance how to transition the movie into discussion of the Gospel,” he said faithfully about CCC students, some who have already been well-educated themes presented in the movie through a six-week long Bible study program offered by the fellowship.
The movie has been viewed in over 3,400 cinema screens but the Orlando screening will be the first showing of the movie outside a theater. CCC is working with New Market Films, distributor of The Passion, and Regal Cinemas, provider of the film print used for the screening, to make the event possible.
Good Friday marks the day of Jesus’ crucifixion. Easter falls on Sunday and is the day when Jesus resurrected from the dead showing that love overcomes death.
“What better day for UCF students to see The Passion of The Christ than on Good Friday, the anniversary of Jesus’ suffering and death so powerfully depicted in the movie!” explains Dillard.