Our president, Steve Douglass, sent an email to Cru staff this morning concerning how open people are to the gospel during the COVID-19 crisis. I’d like to share some highlights with you and encourage you to consider becoming an online mentor to help reach people for Christ. This first section is an excerpt from Steve’s email.
People Are Searching for God
There are so many negatives related to the COVID-19 crisis. The news is filled with them. As a result, people are experiencing serious fear and anxiety and a significant loss of hope for a good future anytime soon. There is great harm — no question.
But is any good coming out of this crisis? The answer is a resounding “yes”! Many more people are looking to God for help. As a matter of fact, there has never been a greater opportunity to tell people about a relationship with God in my lifetime or probably in a long time before that. Why do I say that?
First, there are more people alive today than ever before. . . 7.8 billion.
Second, because a significant percentage of the population seems to be experiencing fear and loss of hope, they are more open to the gospel.
Leaders who minister through digital means tell me there are dramatic increases in online searches on finding hope and peace, and overcoming fear and worry. . .
Tyndale House Publishers reports that sales of their Life Application Study Bible were up 44% in March 2020 versus March 2019. On their Facebook page for the New Living Translation (where they post Bible verse illustrations), engagement was up 72% in March over February.
Third, the means now exist to touch the lives of the vast majority of people on earth.
A few months ago it was estimated that 62% of the world’s population now uses mobile phones. That means, by phone, we have opportunities to get the Good News to about 4.8 billion people. Just WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger have 1.5 billion and 1.3 billion users respectively.
In 2018, Barna Research reported that 58% of non-Christians said someone had shared about faith with them on Facebook. Another 14% heard through other social media channels. Can you imagine what these percentages might be now?
. . . during one week in March, our ministry’s digital resources were accessed from every country on earth!
There is also the continued use of television and radio. The “JESUS” film was shown in 117 countries during Easter weekend — twice as many as initially expected. In Kenya, 10 million people watched “JESUS” on TV.
In fact, I just received a report from the Southern and Eastern Africa Area. In their 24 countries from April 6-14, they saw a total of 44 million exposures to the gospel, and 275,000 indicated decisions for Christ. This was mainly through the use of Jesus Film® products and tools.
Fourth, . . . Christians may well have more time to minister to others through digital and other means.
My simple point is that, bad as this crisis is in some ways, it is providing unprecedented opportunities to help fulfill the Great Commission. Yes, we have to trust God to help overcome health problems, loss of income, etc. But we also must continue to find and use ways to show others how to cope through a relationship with God.
How You Can Help
I read Steve’s email as I was starting to compose this post about an urgent need for digital missionaries. This could be God’s call to you.
With so many people staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of people writing to all of Cru’s sites is growing rapidly. Thousands are seeking help, hope, care, and connection.
The Mentor Ministry originated with Cru’s Power to Change ministry in Canada. Every month, more than 10,000 emails are exchanged through this Cru ministry. People discover and read articles on one of two sites (Issues I Face or The Life). Each article relates to their struggles and ends with an invitation to connect them with a safe mentor who will listen and respond to their story.
Not too long ago, I was told 600 people were waiting for mentors. More people are visiting than ever before.
Will you sign up to be an online mentor? As people are writing from all over the world, you could love them and help them in Jesus’ name. Visit this site, The Mentor Ministry, for more information and to sign up. You can set the level of involvement that suits you and have time to pray and consider your response before sending it. TMM has support staff and resources to help you as well.
Steve concluded his email:
Charles Dickens’s book “A Tale of Two Cities” starts with the words, “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” So it is now. . . we have the privilege of showing people today how to experience the “best.”