GCMM Spurs Church Growth in Ukraine
GCMM recently talked to Yuri Babinets, Pastor of a large church in Kiev. Yuri served as campaign manager of the media evangelism campaign in Kiev some 10 years ago.
Yuri recalls the impact of the outreach to millions of Ukrainians: “We saw 7,000 new faces in our church one year after the campaign. Of those, 3,000 came forward to receive Jesus into their lives. Of the three thousand, 900 had been baptized and become part of the church.”
“This was the largest season of Church growth in the history of our church. The campaign had become the key driving force for our Church, "reported Pastor Yuri at a recent strategic planning session addressing with pastors from the war zone.
“In the past 12 years, we have planted another 47 new churches in the greater Kiev area.
“Presently we have about 3,000 to 3,500 people attending one of our multiple worship services on Sundays. Other services are held in addition to that. There is a lot of other ongoing ministry during the week but all of it, whatever it might be, is focused on bringing people to the Lord.
“We are thankful to Great Commission Media Ministries for your vision and initiative, for teaching us how to reach more people in a new way in our city of Kiev.”
God's Power to Change In Odessa
A second media evangelism outreach was held in 2014 in the Black Sea port city of Odessa. Once again, Pastor Yuri was the campaign manager there also.
The majority of evangelical churches in the city participated and worked together during the Odessa City Campaign.
Those churches that successfully mobilized their members to take an active part of the campaign usually see the biggest harvest of souls.
One such church saw a 300 percent increase in their membership. They had 300 members before the campaign—post campaign, they had increased to 1,000 members.
Political change has swept the scene in Ukraine this past spring.
Prior to the war, the government had little funding for the national budget. The armed forces were in shambles. Interim President Oleksandr Turchynov (Baptist) was able to lift the nation off its knees and rebuild their armed forces.
Although trade with Russia was disrupted as a result of the Maidan Square revolution in 2014, the economy has improved slowly but surely in the years following. Ukraine has accomplished that which seemed impossible just a short while ago.
The Maidan revolution in 2014, forced then acting pro Moscow President Janukovits to flee to Russia. Oleksandr Turtsynov, a member of the Baptist Union, was elected to replace the previous President.
Later, Turchynov was appointed to the head of Defense and Homeland Security. It was noteworthy that a member of an evangelical church was elected to such a high position.
But, to the north on the Russian side of the border reaction came swiftly.
Russia’s secret service FSB (previously KGB) took to the streets in the border city of Belgorod and banned all outdoor church activity in the city, something the churches had engaged in for the past 20 years without incident.
When church leaders asked Russian State Security why the sudden change in attitude toward them, the response was blunt: “On the other side of the border (in Ukraine) there is a Baptist President by the name of Oleksandr Turchynov!”
Consequently churches in Russia have plunged into persecution. Russian authorities fear a repeat of events in Ukraine on Russian soil and consider Evangelical Christians as a source of "instability” in society. Russia has vowed that the same will never happen in Russia.
Political change in Ukraine has ushered in unprecedented freedom for the preaching of the Gospel.
It’s a very different story in the occupied territory controlled by Russian forces. Evangelical churches now suffer unprecedented persecution by Russian forces. Churches have been forced “underground” as in the Soviet Union.
The upcoming media campaign this fall in the war zone is crucial.
The timing to reach the 2 million residents trapped in the war zone is providential as people are open to the Gospel message.
War give birth to urgency and softens attitudes. Talk of God comes effortlessly among residents of the ware zone.
East Africa: Dar es Salaam Mega City Campaign Close to Launch
Preparations are underway for a rare Media Evangelism Campaign in Tanzania, spearheaded by GCM Ministries. We are there to help the churches do what Jesus has asked them to do from the very beginning, to evangelize their people.
At present the GCMM team is on site working intensely vision casting in the churches, setting up the call center, negotiating the needed media packages, collecting transformation stories, producing media content, training church volunteers for the campaign.
General Director Vernon Fernandez, manager of 13 satellite television channels shared his thoughts on the upcoming campaign:
“There is a big difference between this Media Campaign and traditional church outreach. This campaign reached the people where they are. Prime time radio and television will deliver the campaign message to millions of Tanzanians. When you hear good news, that news generates hope!
“Everything has a price. I knew that this campaign will have a fairly big price tag. It costs money to collect the high impact transformation stories, produce the programs, ads, and to deliver this content to the various media such as television, radio, print media, social media, etc.
I am happy to be part of this outreach. This campaign will change the lives of millions of people. I mean millions of lives. People are hungry and tired of life. They are headed for hell, but this campaign will lead them to salvation and to heaven. We want this campaign to succeed in October. May the Lord bless you.”
Tanzania TV Promotes Islam
As GCMM prepares for a special high impact Media Campaign in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania National TV is broadcasting outdoor events held by Muslim extremists.
The cries of these fundamentalist messengers ring out: “Now is the day of salvation! Now is the day of salvation! Who wants to become a Muslim? Now is the day of salvation! The truth shall set you free!” This was followed by shouts of "Allah is great!”
Tanzania has been known to be the least violent of East African nations. Somalia is known to be the opposite.
The timing of this unexpected public display of conversion to Islam is seemingly planned to coincide with the GCMM mega city media campaign due to launch in October.
The campaign message of God's power to change lives will target five million residents of Dar es Salaam. The message will also touch the 50 million people living throughout Tanzania.
Just as we are preparing for the life-changing Media Campaign in Dar es Salaam, the cries of fundamentalist messengers ring out: “Now is the day of salvation! Now is the day of salvation! Who wants to become a Muslim? Now is the day of salvation! The truth shall set you free! Allah is great!”
Billy Graham’s Legacy and Word of Exhortation To This Generation
NASHVILLE, TN (NRB) Speaking at the NRB’s 75th annual gathering, of the National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Nashville, Vice President Mike Pence told the audience of media professionals, “Your ministry, your message, your values are needed now more than ever before.
“Every day, every hour, you speak strength to the heart of the American people. You shape our country. You water the roots of this nation.”
Like many other speakers at NRB 2018, Pence paid tribute to the late Billy Graham. The vice president pointed to the late evangelist as “a model for the Christian communicator.”.
Billy Graham was remembered as a man of humility, kindness, and integrity whose authority came from the Bible.
On Billy Graham’s 75th spiritual birthday, the aging evangelist said that he was not quite 16 when a visiting evangelist named Mordecai Ham began daily revival meetings across town from his parents’ dairy farm in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“I wasn’t interested, but my mother was praying for me as she had been for years. One day an older friend, who also had been praying for me, offered to let me drive his truck if I would go to the meetings with him. It was an enticement that an almost 16 year-old boy could not resist,” Graham recalls.
“Once I heard Dr. Ham preach, I became intrigued. I felt a longing to experience God’s love in a personal way. When the Holy Spirit brought me under conviction of sin, I felt the preacher was speaking only to me. A buddy and I even joined the choir so we could sit behind the preacher instead of directly under his gaze.”
Graham adds: “Finally on that one November day, during the last verse of the last song of the evening, I simply got up and walked to the front.
“A tailor who knew my family approached me, explained the Gospel in a very simple way, and then guided me in a prayer.
“I acknowledged my sinfulness to God, asked for forgiveness because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross, and by faith invited him to become Lord of my life.”
Before his passing, Billy Graham added: “I’ll be 91 years old in a few weeks, but those memories are as vivid to me as ever. I’ve experienced God’s gracious love in a personal way all these years, and today my heart is filled with gratitude for all He has done for me.
“It is so important to pray for people you know who need Jesus, and to keep praying.
“Don’t give up. The Bible says that the intense prayer of a righteous person has great power (see James 5:16).
“I cannot find adequate words to thank our Lord Jesus Christ for coming to ‘seek and save those who are lost’ (Luke 19:10, NLT), including me.”
World Conference on Evangelism
The year was 1986. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association brought together 11,000 itinerant evangelists from 209 countries to Amsterdam.
Evangelists from all over the world gathered to pray, strategize, and to consider new ways as well as conventional ones to accelerate the task of evangelism in the coming decade.
Because of his ailing health, Billy Graham was not able to attend personally but sent a strong message of exhortation to the conference delegates: “May the fire of the Holy Spirit fall upon everyone present at the conference!”
Three hundred speakers added to the words of Dr. Graham. Among the many speakers was Great Commission Media Ministries Director, Hannu Haukka, who spoke on the need to use the firepower of the mass media in evangelism.
South Korean evangelist Dr. Billy Kim challenged the conference: “The task of world evangelism has stalled in this generation!”
Billy Kim And Billy Graham
Dr. Kim recalled how President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. Within two hours the world knew of the Presidents death, where he was killed, and who was guilty.
Half of the world’s population still does not know what happened outside the walls of Jerusalem 2,000 years ago! The Church has failed in its task of evangelism, remarked Dr. Kim.
Some years ago, the President of Coca Cola declared that its mission was to offer a bottle of Coca Cola to all six billion people on our planet within 5 years!
It is embarrassing, that a soft drink company has more vision than the Body of Christ today!
The Billy Graham conference on world evangelism closed with the following condensed version of a communiqué challenging Christian leaders everywhere:
• seek possibilities to increasingly use mass media and technology effectively to reach the nations with the gospel message.
• to make the fulfillment of the Great Commission the focus of our prayers.
• to seize new initiatives to reach the children and the youth of our world.
• to embrace partnerships and work with others in the unity in Spirit Dr. Kim spoke words of faith into the hearts of the 11,000 conference attendees:
“There is hope! No President or Prime Minister or King has ever had more impact on our world than our Lord, Jesus Christ.
“If He was able to change a criminal into a saint then He is able to change the world!”
And what is this “world?” Each new generation is another new world to evangelize,” reminded Billy Graham as he summed up the challenge to every preacher of the Gospel.
South Sudan Campaign Update
Food Aid Administered
By the end of December 2018, as the campaign came to a close, we delivered food and aid to South Sudan. We delivered rice, corn, vegetable oil, flour, salt, and sugar to families and children who suffered the most due to the ongoing tribal wars.
The South Sudan Council of Churches partnered with GCM Ministries in the capital city of Juba delivering the supplies to the needy.
Two other organizations helped us with the food distribution. One was the River Nile Center managed by Nassar, an Egyptian in South Sudan.
Africa’s Mother Teresa
Our other partner was a South Sudanese ministry True Light Ministry. Mari, who has also moved from Egypt is head of that organization and she is referred to as the “Mother Teresa of South Sudan.”
She has taken care of 1,000 children who have been orphaned because of the fighting. They have been fed, clothed, and given proper hygiene and medical care.
Mari, a nurse, has established medical clinics where South Sudanese children can receive medical help. These clinics can supply medicine that has on many occasion saved a child’s life.
Book Distribution Begins
During the campaign the call center was flooded with so many calls that the phone network crashed because of traffic overload.
Our best estimates put the calls that were dropped or did not get through in the tens of thousands.
Even with the chaos and crashes, however, we were able to register tens of thousands of names and numbers into our database.
Because there are no street numbers for houses in South Sudan people showed up at distribution centers and showed their cell phone number to prove that they had called the call center to order the campaign book or digital audio player (DAP). Distribution centers were set up at several predetermined locations in the city.
The distribution centers became quite chaotic at times as throngs of people showed up asking for their copy of the campaign book or digital audio player.
The media portion of the campaign wrapped up at Christmas. However, up to 200 calls per day have come into the call center since then.
Throngs of people converged on the distribution centers to receive their copy of the campaign book or digital audio player. Both contained life-changing stories of South Sudanese locals, the Gospel of John, and a “road map” to salvation.
DAP Distribution Begins
GCM Ministries ordered 20,000 Digital Audio Players, which contained the same life-changing stories, Gospel of John, a “road map” to salvation, as were in the campaign book.
The DAPs are being distributed to 3,000 villages as well as the capital city, Juba.
The illiteracy rate in South Sudan is about 70%. Children and adults alike do not even know the alphabet. It wouldn’t have been a good idea to give campaign books to these people.
The DAP units have been recorded in four languages: South Sudanese Arabic, which is spoken throughout the country, the Dinka language, Nuer, and Bari tribe languages.
The distribution has begun and will take about a year to complete. It is a challenging task because although it is a simple unit, a brief lesson in its use is needed.
There are real dangers also. The organization that is delivering these units to the villages in partnership with GCM Ministries has lost two of their members as they were approaching a village. The “welcoming committee” opened fire on the vehicle they were traveling in which resulted in the deaths of these two people.
Churches At Overflow
It is a challenge to get accurate numbers of people making a commitment to follow Jesus. That kind of information is not easy to get a hold of.
However, in talking with various pastors and leaders, they say that their church attendance and people searching for God has increased. The move toward God has been massive, in their words.
GCM Ministries does not take care of the follow-up portion of ministry. That is the responsibility of the Church on the ground. Language is another obstacle for foreigners.
Requests to hold a media campaign in other cities in South Sudan: Leaders from Wau, Yei, Malakai, Rumbek, Bor have approached us with their request.
Thank you for supporting this outreach, offering the Gospel to six million people in South Sudan.
The South Sudan Council of Churches helped GCM Ministries deliver food to the needy in the capital city of Juba. Two other organizations helped distribute the food and clothing.
Our other partner was South Sudanese ministry “True Light Ministry.” Mari, who has also moved from Egypt, is head of that organization, and she is referred to as the Mother Teresa of South Sudan. Mari, a nurse, has established medical clinics where South Sudanese children can go to get medical help. These clinics can supply medicine that has often saved a child’s life.
A flatbed truck arrives loaded with rice, flour, and other supplies for food preparation. These are distributed to people on waiting lists. Chaos sometimes breaks out when people panic because they think they will be left without any food for them.