Look Back on 2014, outlook for 2015 and beyond
Being at this for over ten years has been quite an education. Normally, ten years would be just getting started. Ten years in online ministry is a long time, making us the pioneering ministry in online evangelism, and allowing us to benefit from great partnerships and serve as a model for many newer groups.
Using our 2014 Annual Report and my experiences over the past year, I hope I can paint a clear picture of this for you. I joined staff by simply looking to “see where God was at work so I could join Him.” (See John 5:19-20, “Experiencing God,” by Henry Blackaby and Claude V. King)
It's an important part of my role to let you know what God has been doing, because He makes our work possible through partners like you. I’ll use an example of something familiar to just about everyone today: Facebook. By three years ago, a startling statistic started getting quoted: Facebook’s “population” would make it the #3 country in the world. The marketplace of ideas is now largely online, increasingly on cheap mobile devices. Over 80% of our contacts are from outside the U.S., and the majority of them are using smartphones to find us. Thoughts about how restrictive that must be may come to mind. But I want to get you thinking about a number of advantages.
- Seekers have a way to get answers immediately when they’re questioning. Joss, a former Muslim in Tanzania, is an example. Despairing of his life, he used a borrowed cell phone to get to GodLife.com and find a new one instead. He is now a powerful witness for Christ among Muslims there.
- Seekers have their “mailbox” with them at all times. I once pulled an SMS (text-messaging) contact into my account for a demonstration to train others. In 140 characters at a time, we chatted for the next several days. He gave his life to Christ and I helped him find a church.
- Some things we might regard as trivial can be a lifeline. Using Facebook, GMO Online Missionary Susan disciples a man in a Middle Eastern internment camp. The only other “Christians” he knows are Catholics who urge him to pray to Mary.
- We reach places we could not ordinarily go. I’ve written in the past about sharing the gospel with a mom in a remote Vietnamese village, domestic workers in Saudi Arabia, curious young people in Iran, even believers in Fiji and the Pitcairn Islands, the smallest country in the world.
- It can mobilize the church in unprecedented ways. Let me explain:
There are an estimated 400,000 missionaries worldwide. The top sending agencies are listed below, with the tally of their missions personnel:
- Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru) 25,000+
- Gospel for Asia 16,500
- YWAM 16,000
- Operation Mobilisation, 6,900
- Wycliffe Bible Translators, 5,000
- International Mission Board, (SBC) 4,791
Global Media Outreach’s full-time staff may number fewer than 50 persons, but the real story behind our ministry is with our “Online Missionaries.” If they were traditional ones, we’d be somewhere around number 4 or 5 on that list. They speak 26 languages and are in every U.S. State and 128 other countries.
The constantly expanding reach and low cost of tech has been God’s way of enabling this generation to reach the world in unprecedented ways. GMO has registered 1.33 billion gospel presentations, resulting in 146 million indicated decisions, since we launched in 2004. With a greater understanding of how God has been uniquely using us comes a strategic plan to push even harder to reach the least-reached. Today’s headlines demonstrate how critical it is to reach the world for Jesus as our brothers and sisters suffer persecution and millions are kept from the knowledge of God. As “God’s Smuggler,” Brother Andrew of Open Doors, said in his 2002 book “God’s Call,” “If we do not go to the heathen with the gospel…they will come to us as revolutionaries and occupation armies!”
With the move, 2014 was probably the hardest for us since we joined in 2004. But we’re still convinced God is at work through this ministry in a unique, strategic way that we couldn’t duplicate in any other group or any other time in history. Thank you once again for your part in making it possible! We are looking forward to what is to come!
Love, in Christ,
One Day Closer!