This post was first shared on Indigitous.org.
The coronavirus disrupted everything. Our ministry made a number of pivots. It required taking risks — big and small. We took a risk to see if we could link people’s need for prayer with an experience of being prayed for plus a Gospel presentation. We called the experiment There Is Hope.
We are doing three things with this experiment:
“I hope I can be prayed for on this platform…Please pray for me and beg God on my behalf to forgive me and grant me one last chance.” This desperate request was sent to us by a young man named Justin*. Justin is a fetish priest. He wrote to us after an online prayer experience organized to give hope to Nigerians during the pandemic. The event had attracted more than 16,000 people on Facebook over the last five weeks. It is easy for many people to say yes to receiving prayer!
Samuel, a missionary in Nigeria, received one of the contacts generated by a “There Is Hope” prayer event. As he connected with this person, Yusuf, he found out that Yusuf was contemplating suicide. As a result of Samuel’s conversation and prayers, Yusuf decided not to attempt suicide. But it didn’t end there. Yusuf later met a lady, Aisha, who told him that she was thinking about suicide. Yusuf then shared his experience with her about the encouragement he received in Jesus when he, too, had been contemplating suicide. Aisha was so encouraged that she decided not to continue with her plans.
In a live event hosted in the Philippines, we saw 72 people indicate their decision to receive Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. The thousands of prayer requests we have received from all these countries have similar trends. People are experiencing loneliness, fear and anxiety, relationship struggles, health challenges and financial struggles. People need hope that only God can provide. The There Is Hope campaign aims to help them experience that hope.
* Editor’s note: For security reasons, all names have been changed.
This blogpost was first shared on equipping4eministry.com
I’m sure by now most of you are aware of The Blessing by Kari Jobe and Cody Carnes. This beautiful song went viral in a short period of time. It was such a prophetic and anointed one right before the global pandemic. Singers from all over the world adopted this song into their languages, cultures, and music arrangements. I have seen city mayors, influencers, and people at every level engaging with this music as their own. It would be neat to see the impact through detailed analytics.
I have been reflecting on this song and what I learn from it. The number of views is huge . . . not just in English but in all the languages shared on YouTube.
The original video has 18,665 comments. All these engagements are organic (I’m not sure if there was any paid advertising by the music owners). I even saw some comments from people sharing how they received Jesus Christ.
I continued scrolling the comment sections and couldn’t believe what I was reading. People are choosing joy over their suffering. Others are still asking for justice, healing, and even favor from God in a humble spirit. People are sharing their stories with the World.
There are 368K thumbs up… and 7.3K thumbs down. I ask myself, “Why did they give thumbs down for this music?” I’m sure some viewers have more questions for God and for us.
So what, Miheret?
Watching the video encouraged me, but left me with more questions. I was frustrated. This video could be a great opportunity for deeper spiritual conversations and for building online communities. How can we seize these opportunities? The people commenting on YouTube matter to God. Many may need a community where they could grow in their walk with Jesus Christ.
How Do We Seize Viral Opportunities for Christ?
Several social media links are under the video description, but no invitations. Did any of the 23+ million viewers need and find answers or community?
Of course, this global engagement is bigger than one church could handle. How do we help the body of Christ to win, build, and send Christ-centered multiplying disciples? Do we have tools and strategies for this kind of opportunity or do we need new ones?
I imagined more but will stop here. I pray every person touched by this music finds a community where they can impact their world for Jesus. May this even be true for those who are still angry with God.
May we be the ones who help. Let’s face the new world today to be relevant for tomorrow.
“...Has anything like this ever happened in your days?...” Prophet Joel asked this question to elders and everyone who listened. Joel 1:2
Just like in Joel’s time, we are asking ourselves, "What explanation can be given for what is happening around the world right now? Who thought a flu-like virus could shut down all regular activities almost everywhere in the world?" In our generation, this is one of the biggest global phenomena we are witnessing.
A few days after the Cru Digital Strategy core team meetings, we immediately started shaping our communication to help fellow staff members fully shift into digital ministry opportunities. This is the time where our global digital strategy team is stretching to serve all Cru ministries to pivot into digital space.
Together with your ministry partnership, in the last 7 days, we are seeing 197 countries reached with COVID-related articles to help spiritual needs (fear, anxiety, and suffering) in our global digital ecosystem. 92 decisions for Christ via COVID-19 pages across Everystudent.com sites
Starting tomorrow, on March 25-27, the Indigitous community will be hosting five regional webinars curated in five continents (Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, and South America) on practical digital ideas and tools that will help leaders engage in this challenging season. So far we have 1,500 people registered for all of these webinars already!
If you are interested, signup for one of the webinars to learn more about new ways of doing ministry during COVID-19 and answering these questions:
- How do we reach people online?
- How do we disciple people online?
- How do we do church online?
The relationship bridge of technology is more important than ever! You can care for the people of your congregation or network, and invite those who are far from Jesus to experience love, forgiveness, and community found in Him, using digital strategies. You can have a growing, effective ministry over distance and we want to help!
Please forward this to friends and church leaders you know by sharing the links on the left.
Helping You Share Your Faith
2019 Snapshot Thank you Lord for each life you touched
These tools help you simply and clearly explain to someone how they can begin a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
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GodTools can help you share your faith any time, any place, and in multiple languages. Think of it as your always ready guide to evangelism.
80+ LanguagesWith the toggle button you can easily switch between your heart language and theirs.
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Just as my co-worker was closing his laptop, Flora's chat message caught his eye. Her message read, "Hey, I would want to know more of Jesus..."
Singapore's churches had rented out the National Stadium, with a capacity of 50,000 people, for a series of events called the Celebration of Hope. Broadcasting the event online was a strategy we helped pitch to event organizers and helped make a reality.
"Pearl, can you take Flora?" my teammate asked a fellow online responder. "Sure," smiled Pearl as she sent a message back to Flora and then quickly headed to catch the last subway train home, continuing to chat with Flora on her mobile device.
The next morning, checking the messages, we were thrilled to learn that Flora and Pearl had chatted online until 2:30 am when Pearl helped Flora commit her life to Christ. Flora had watched the event online. God's Spirit was working and had used Pearl to answer Flora's questions and calm her fears. Praise God!
Click here to start personal relationship with Jesus right now
Cru has approximately 72 million users that come into contact with our websites around the world each year– that’s 200,000 people every day that we have the opportunity to interact with and guide on their spiritual journey!
We are asking this question: How can we give personalized spiritual growth experiences that are tailored to our online visitor’s needs and interests?
Every number has a name
Every name has a story
Every story matters to God
Therefore, we are working hard to get the right content to the right person at the right time, by using the right channel.
In October, I helped launch the first in a series of webinars that train and equip our global staff in digital missions. The first webinar was about the best use of analytics in ministry. We had 82 leaders who participated, representing just about every region of the world. I invited three panelists from Cru’s leading experts in the field of analytics to share their best practices and insight.
In the Bible, we often see examples of Jesus taking time to know the people he was ministering to. Paul also speaks in 1 Cor 9:20, how his message was framed strategically based on his audiences, for example, for the Jews, the Greeks and others.
We identify and group our online users according to four categories that basically boils down to their level (or scale) of belief. Those categories are:
Unaware: People who don’t know Jesus Christ.
Curios: People who are asking questions and are exploring about Jesus
Follower: People who follow Jesus Christ
Guide: People who are actively sharing their faith and participating in the Great Commission.
Pray for wisdom as we try and help each of the people in these categories take their next step in their spiritual journeys.
What's your experience in using analytics for ministry?
Very soon nearly every human will have a mobile device in their pocket. That means they will be able to have access to the gospel all day, every day—usually in a familiar language.
Together with our partners, Cru has the opportunity and the technology, to help millions of people all over the world take their next step of faith with Jesus Christ
Sometimes it's hard to share such vision in 60 seconds, especially when you work in a global scope, requiring you to bring cultural and digital transformation across the entire organization. By this, I mean a cultural and a mindset shift on how we share the unchanging gospel in the 21st century.
In an attempt to share this vision, I have been working with my team to produce this nine-minute vision video. Yes, nine minutes, so let me stop here so you can watch it... I am sure you will find it encouraging!
Thank you for praying and supporting what do with Cru to advance God's Kingdom.
Thanks for watching
Have you ever encountered God changing your worst day into a beautiful message or event? I have seen that many times. One day in 2014, I was in the Nairobi airport transiting from a trip was processing a difficult personal rejection experience. I was having the loneliest moment of my life despite the crowd around me. Two godly men came and introduced themselves to me. In my pain, I was not the mood for talking but answered some of their friendly questions about my life and what I do. Right before their departure, one of them left me his business card. Later I added them to my newsletter list and learned that they are from Kansas State.
Three years later, as I visited my family in the Kansas City area, I got a chance to meet the two guys and their church missions leaders in Wichita Kansas. I discovered that the Eastminster church in Wichita has been praying for East Africa for a number of years and they send a missions team there. Over time they accepted me as an answer to their prayers for East Africa and started supporting and praying for my ministry. On top of that, on my first trip to see them, I had an amazing experience that led to it being featured on www.cru.org.
Since then, every year I spent a weekend sharing God's stories and His goodness with the Eastminster family in Wichita. The following pictures were taken from speaking to different groups there this past weekend.
God is awesome! He changed my pain and rejection into a memorable and loving experience. I am very thankful for you. I am thankful for the last ten years of ministry with Cru with you on my side.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving season!
Yes, God gives many gifts. The gift of healing for example. But do I need to travel to a specific place to experience those gifts? Do I need to know people who know certain “special” people so that Jesus would heal me? Do I have to give money so that I could get healed? Do I have to give money so that I will get back more?
I observe all these things when I watch some satellite ‘Christian’ TV programs in Africa. I have struggled with this topic for a long time but decided I could not keep my thoughts to myself.
Television, like other media platforms can be used to share the gospel with many. But the effectiveness of the TV platform is limited as it is mainly one way communication. TV is very useful to broadly sow the gospel. You can add texting, phone calls and social media platforms to increase the effectiveness. But the problem is NOT using Christian TV, but it becomes a problem when you use Christian TV to replace the physical church.
When you read a good book you get wisdom and information from the author. Even when the writer inspires you, in most cases it's impossible to consider the author your friend or your pastor. Because pastoral ministry is about shepherding the people known to the pastor.
The satellite TV programs are often filling people’s minds with confused theology and spiritual practices. Often the Christian programs suggests that whatever you hear and see on TV, is what God is saying. But we should listen carefully. Sadly I see preachers on TV who have selfish desires to become idols themselves. They use the platform for selling almost everything.
The first church in the book of Acts was known for:
Some years ago my friend invited me to an early Sunday morning service at his church. We finished the service around 10am and it was too early to go for lunch so he took me to another church that started 10:30am. I must admit I didn't listen to a single statement as my mind was full from the first service. I needed time to soak it in and reflect on it. After the second service we had lunch and my good friend suggested we attend an afternoon service in another church. I could not believe it. I declined.
I see that same principle when I see people switching channel after channel to hear from God. How do you grow and become a disciple like that? What type of fruit do you bear?
For me when a sinner, like me, comes to know God and becomes a child of God, that is a huge miracle. I am a miracle! I am a child of God.
I don’t have to spend money to see a miracle. I don’t have to wait until my mobile number is mentioned. The greatest miracle was when God became Emmanuel, and showed His unfailing love through Jesus Christ.
I love preaching the gospel to myself. If the gospel does not satisfy me, then nothing else would!
Lee Strobel describes John 1:12 like this and I agree with him.
Believe + Receive = Become a child of God John 1:12
Three things you can do
Share your story below.
We had significant Indigitous hackathon events in 42 cities worldwide. Thank you for your prayers! This year is the third time Indigitous hosted a global collaboration to create locally relevant digital tools and solutions to help fulfill the Great Commission.
Russ Martin and I had the privilege to join with a vibrant, smart Indigitous tribe at two of the events, in Lagos and Accra. Collectively, these two cities worked on eight locally relevant projects. We encouraged participants on casting the vision for Indigitous communities in West Africa, teamwork, and leadership skills as well as praying together for God to move.
We know that there is NO digital mission without the Power of the Holy Spirit, we need Him just like Bezalel and Oholiab were anointed by God to do some creative innovation in the Old Testament (Exodus 36:1-2).
These were some of the projects we worked on in those two locations.
Great Commission Prayer Project
State of the gospel in Northern Ghana
Event Management Platform
Bible Gaming Web App
Walking with Jesus App
On top of that, we enjoyed new cultural experiences. We operated in “African time,” where time feels plenty (which of course is not new to me at all). I learned that the Ghanaian lifestyle is easy-going and friendly. In Accra, when you ask someone, “How are you,” you might get a response, “I am shining.” In Lagos, Nigeria, a normal greeting conversation begins with a phrase like “How far?” And you respond, “How far?” This is a casual greeting to say “how are you,” and does not have anything to do with distance.
During our strategic meetings with tech business leaders and church pastors in Lagos, all of us agreed that Lagos is a place with so much potential and challenges in breaking the iceberg of Digital Mission in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Miheret T. Eshete