Chris Curia's international experience changed his life—but not in the ways he expected. During his interim in Mexico, Chris visited the village of Tekax for a weekend.
“It was just two days, but I felt a connection to the people,” Chris shared. “I experienced a belonging that, by any normal standards, was almost nonsensical. There was something about their community, their fellowship that I had been missing.”
Chris knew he had to return. The only question: How?
In 2016, Chris was selected for the Jubilee Fellows program. Part of the program is a summer internship in which fellows disperse to serve churches nationwide.
Chris realized he could return to Tekax through the fellowship, but the program’s leadership had to agree. Then he thought, “What if I made a film about the people here? What if I told their story?”
But first, there were obstacles to overcome. Chris needed a film crew, funding, and permission to do an international internship—and he had approximately twelve weeks to figure it out.
The Jubilee Fellows faculty worried that film production would diminish his missional role.
“It was quite a process,” Chris admitted. “Given that we had to finance the film on top of coordinating every nuance of the trip, this was a lot to entrust to one student. Yet, somehow, they did.”
While Chris dreamt about Tekax, Chris’s friends Daniel Teo and Brittany Padilla were forming plans of their own. As film and media production majors, they wanted to make a film in Singapore during their summer.
“Daniel and Brittany were the people I wanted to do this project with,” commented Chris. “I saw them after class one day and told them about it.”
A few days later, they told him that their plans got canceled before he spoke to them, and they were in.
Now that he had a team, he could start other preparations.
Producing a film (in a small Mexican village, no less) requires extensive resources. With three passionate students leading the way, the Calvin community made it possible.
Jubilee faculty helped with the logistics. Film professor Sam Smartt consulted on filmmaking. Students prayed, planned, and even held a fundraising bake sale. The trio launched a Kickstarter to cover travel and production costs, aiming for $3,500. They raised nearly $10,000.
The trio released the film in 2017. Jubileo: A Parable of Christian Fellowship follows Chris’s summer as a missionary in a small Tekax church. It tells the story of people living in true Christ-centered fellowship. For Chris, that story has started a change within himself.
“The idea of calling is more powerful when we are ill-equipped but obedient. Those moments show who God is,” Chris explained.
“I want my work to be about lifting up people who have been treated unjustly. I want to show the light of Christ through them. That's always what my life is going to be about—whether it’s film, ministry, or none of the above.”