Quarantine or Not, Global Media Outreach Uses Technology to Share the Gospel
From a few thousand Gospel presentations in their first year to over 129 million in 2019, for more than fifteen years Global Media Outreach has been using technology to adapt to the needs of the world. From the computer, to cell phones, and social media they bring Jesus to those seeking answers. With 3,500 volunteer online missionaries, speaking twelve primary languages, millions are able to be presented with the message of hope. Risen talked with Michelle Diedrich, Director of Global Media Outreach, about the personal connection they are providing, without the physical contact – especially during this COVID-19 world pandemic.
Interviewed for Risen Magazine
Risen Magazine: Start off and share about Global Media Outreach. Last year you reached 129 million people giving them hope through technology, how is this accomplished?
Michelle Diedrich: Global Media Outreach uses websites and social media in twelve primary languages to share the Good News of Jesus Christ in more than 200 countries. Through our worldwide digital outreach, we typically see about 350,000 people each day come to one of our online Gospel presentations. Of these, an average of 60,000 will indicate they have received Jesus and around 10,000 will ask for more information. We have volunteers, Christians just like you and I, who respond to them. Our volunteers will pray for them, answer questions, disciple and connect them to a local church or Christian community. You can find out more about the ministry at https://globalmediaoutreach.com/
RM: Such an unprecedented time in history with the world literally on lockdown due to the coronavirus… many are fearful and separated from resources they once had. How is GMO meeting these needs?
MD: Global Media Outreach has always worked to reach people at their point of need. As people are stuck at home, with few distractions, they are going to the Internet. If we, the church aren’t online to help them, what are they going to find? We are seeing millions of people open to talking about faith in the face of fear, and we’re ramping up to be available for them. We provide high personal connection, without physical contact, so those quarantined can still have a deeply personal interaction. According to Google, searches about fears around the virus, uncertain finances and employment are growing rapidly. We have developed online materials that share the Gospel while addressing the anxiety and questions people have. You can see an example of one at https://somethingbetter.us/gospel/pandemic
We’ve actually prepared a series of devotionals to help people deal with some of those issues of fear, anxiety, loneliness, depression, and anger about this situation. We are also asking our volunteers to expand their response through social media and are actively looking for more volunteers to help. Just in the few weeks we’ve had these materials online, we’ve seen more than 298,000 visits to the Gospel presentations. We have content addressing the crisis in multiple languages reaching people in many countries.
There is an incredible opportunity right now to be the hands and feet of Jesus online, especially through social media. Embrace the opportunity to love like Jesus and share what He has done for you personally.
RM: Since you are global, what kinds of conversations or encounters are you seeing outside of the U.S.?
MD: Many of the conversations are about fear and anxiety around unemployment and uncertainty about the future. Across the globe, countries are at different stages with the virus but all are concerned. I’ll share one conversation that began on March 26 when Grace from Cebu City in the Philippines came to our one of our sites responding to COVID-19. She wrote: “Please help me not to worry about everything.” Our volunteer Toni then began a conversation with her to encourage and pray for her and share about Jesus. It’s a long conversation but Grace shared her fear. She told Toni “What’s happening now is very confusing, they said this virus was engineered by US to destroy China government, others also concluded that this is a kind of weapon china made, but it was mistakenly erupted in their place.”
Toni talked to her about how Jesus is the peace she is seeking and how to have a relationship with him as her Savior. Through their conversation, Grace confirmed her decision and told Toni: “Thanks to you Toni, you’re one of the angels sent from God to enlightened what is dark in me. Your life is a blessings to many. I also want to be like that, to inspire other people and help them choose the right path. That’s why I decided to choose to calm my heart and read the Bible. By reading the Bible I have found peace.”
RM: How can others share Jesus during COVID-19 pandemic?
MD: Pray for them, first and foremost. There is an incredible opportunity right now to be the hands and feet of Jesus online, especially through social media. Embrace the opportunity to love like Jesus and share what He has done for you personally. Tell your story and why God is giving you peace through this crisis, knowing Jesus lifts your burdens. Offer to connect with them online and listen to their struggles and pray for them.
On the opposite side of that, it’s just as important to know what not to do. Every word you say online reflects your witness. Are your Facebook posts instilling fear or peace? Spreading rumors, critical comments or conspiracy theories do not encourage people, especially those who are open spiritually and are questioning life. I would reflect on Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
RM: You’ve been with GMO for the past 15 years, how have you seen the need for reaching individuals for Christ through technology evolve?
MD: Google AdWords launched in 2000. That same year, our founder, Walt Wilson, published his book The Internet Church,describing where he thought technology was going and how the church could use it to share Jesus. He was spot on. In 2004,Google went public and we launched our first website. We were right on the edge of taking advantage of this new method for reaching people for Jesus. When I first started working with Global Media Outreach, one of the things we did was an online chat Bible study. “You’re the only Christian I know.” Those were Anon’s words to me during the chat. That’s when it hit me – online may be the only way some people have to find out about Jesus and grow in their spiritual journey. Anon is from India, but lives in Pakistan. Working on an oil rig, he only sees his family once or twice a year. He knew no Christians and was likely afraid to talk about it after coming to faith in a 98% Muslim country. But there we were, chatting and learning together. What has changed the most is the scale. Imagine those conversations taking place thousands of times a day! From a few thousand Gospel presentations our first year to over 129 million in 2019. From a technology standpoint, mobile phones changed everything. People come to us almost exclusively on their phone now. Over the past six years or so, social media has taken over as the main platform for communication. I believe this crisis brings into sharp focus the need for the church to adopt technology to connect with their congregation and community. It’s a game changer. But no matter how much technology changes, we want to continue to be there to meet them at their point of need. And we will be.
I believe this crisis brings into sharp focus the need for the church to adopt technology to connect with their congregation and community. It’s a game changer.
RM: It is such a cool feature that you can see decisions being made for Christ and discipleship around the globe in real time with your map that lights up… how is this meant to encourage others?
MD: I believe many Christians, particularly in the U.S., are discouraged. They feel like the church is declining here and worldwide. They feel like the world has become a very dark place. That map shows the light in midst of the darkness. God is working, right here, right now, online.
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