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.
Let me first start from the past. God at work from satellite to apps.
In 1985, Dr. Bill Bright, founder of our ministry, had the vision to bring 30,000 students from all over the world to one place for an intensive evangelism training week to help fulfill the Great Commission. It became Explo 85. Bailey Marks, pictured with me, was assigned to bring the 30,000 students to the US for this mega training. The logistics, visa process, and air transportation with a budget of $60 Million was an overwhelming task.
The late Dr. Bill Bright and Bailey Marks and their team took the challenge to the Lord in prayer. While praying, Bailey Marks heard the word ‘Satellite’ which he had no clue at that time what it meant. He investigated and it took him a while to get the right person who knew how satellites worked. There was no Internet to Google and get instant results at that time. ?
The voice Bailey Marks heard from the Lord changed the outcome of the Explo 85 campaign. God changed the plan of bringing 30,000 students to one place, into more than 300,000 participants in 98 locations world wide (with a $ 6 Million total budget) by using Satellite technology. God is Amazing!
Today God is still using technology and countless digital platforms and Internet services for His glory. Just in 2015, we saw a total of 35.5 million users interacting with our 7 different digital platforms we have in Cru.
As in Bailey Marks’ story from the past, God is also doing amazing things in our movement with apps and websites. Check out these five life changing mobile apps developed by our digital strategy team.
1. GodTools: The God Tools app provides a clear, concise and easy way to present the gospel and offers the opportunity to receive Christ in over 58 languages.
2. Voke: Voke is a video-sharing app that uses short videos to help you start spiritual conversations with your friends. Get Voke and share what matters.
3. Jesus Film: The Jesus Film Media app allows you to share a variety of films about Jesus, both in person and online, in over 1,500 languages.
4. MissionHub: MissionHub is an app that is designed to help you organize, track and grow the relationships you have with others.
5. EveryStudent.com App: The Every Student app helps you answer real questions about life and faith from anyone God brings your way and shows them reasons to begin a relationship with God.
What are your favorite apps you use to share the gospel with others? I love to hear from you.
As I was entering the Uber car, I was welcomed with a question, “Are you Indian?”
I replied, “No, I'm Ethiopian.”
He answered, “Ok, you look Indian.”
I had mixed emotions how to go further in the discussion. But the driver kept talking. “So what do you do?” he asked.
I said, “I work for a Christian organization, and I live in Orlando.”
“Oh, that's good. I used to have a Brazilian friend, and he is a pastor and travels around the world preaching the gospel.
Tell me what exactly you do?” he continued to question me. “I'm Indian.” He glanced back to me.
Then I opened my phone and started playing the Jesus Film in Hindi. He then pulled out an audio cable and handed it to me to connect it to the car. The video started playing loud and clear.
He started smiling and repeating the words in Hindi. I played three clips, including the video with an invitation to receive Jesus Christ. He said he liked it, Jesus is like one of the gods in India, and that he is a good person. He explained how Jesus helped poor people and I explained more to him about the gospel.
After a few minutes, I reached my destination, and he needed to pick up another passenger. He quickly gave me his phone and said, “Get me the app.” I helped him download the Jesus Film app on his iPhone, and I encouraged him to watch the clips again. All this happened in less than 30 minutes during my Uber trip!
Read Part 1 here
Recently, I used Uber quite a lot to navigate in the Boston area. I had some wonderful gospel conversations with Uber driver Hakim (not his real name*). Hakim is from Sudan.
Hakim* was my Uber driver in the morning as I was heading to the MIT graduation. We started talking about general stuff, and he asked me what I do for work. I told him about my job.
He got interested when I mentioned the words “good news” when talking about myself. So I shared with him how to know God personally. He then said, “Well, Jesus was just a prophet.” I let him tell me more about his Muslim background. He said he is fasting as it's now Ramadan.
I explained to him that Jesus was different because he claimed to be God, predicted his death and resurrection and rose from the dead three days later. I said, “If this is true, it must be a big deal. What do you think?” Hakim replied, “Well, I need to explore more. You know, but how could Jesus be God, though he is just a man?”
“I read in your Qur'an, ‘Jesus formed a bird out of the clay.’ What character can you draw from that?” I asked Hakim. “Well, he created a living creation,” Hakim said.
I told him, “Though the Qur'an says a lot of things about many things, some of the things which talk about Jesus really need more in-depth research.”I encouraged him to read the Bible and install the Jesus Film app before I left his car.
I taught about 20 young leaders and church pastors how they could create a digital strategy for reaching out to the Ethiopian diaspora community in Atlanta and beyond. Based on their current need and realities, I almost changed my entire training process to help them tackle their particular challenges. Read testimony by one of the participants below
"May God take all the glory for this group and for choosing us as His ambassadors to do the work of God through Digital Strategy, not because we deserve to be chosen, but because He loves us indefinitely. Thank you for taking your time to share with us and educate us about Digital Strategy, and thank you Fithe for organizing our meeting and creating this group.
I have actually learned a lot more than I have expected with only a single day that I have participated in the seminar. When we think about Digital Strategy before the seminar, the first thought that comes to our minds or at least to mine was more about the technology side and a computerized situation, but we have learned far more than just how to manipulate technology to our benefit (the work of the Kingdom). I have acquired the knowledge of how to actually preach the Gospel and as the Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit will teach us how, I believe this seminar was a means in which God used to speak to us on how we "really" should think about preaching the gospel and use every means possible including social media and other forms of technology that we utilize in our daily lives."
Finally, summer is on. I finished my spring in May with a lot of ministry opportunities. Thank you for your prayers; our digital strategy summit in Vancouver, Canada went very well. I am excited where the Holy Spirit is leading us into this cutting edge technology era. We discussed making sure that we are joining our online audience and helping them move closer to Jesus on each digital experience they may have with us.
Thank you so much for your prayers which made it possible for me to be part of this exciting ministry.
Miheret T. Eshete