And then they suddenly stopped...
The ringing phones added to the anticipation. A room full of volunteers…pastors, church leaders, excited and dedicated believers…quickly lifted the receivers, answered questions, and filled out information sheets. People from all over Chennai, India, were calling to ask about The Power to Change. TV programs, radio spots, newspaper ads, billboards, signs on buses and even motorized rickshaws invited the 10 million residents of Chennai to learn of God’s love, and how He changes the lives of those who trust in Jesus.
It’s called a Mega City Campaign, a month-long media blitz designed so that no one can avoid learning of the hope we have in Christ. Hannu Haukka, a great friend and a lifelong servant of the Lord, who has been involved with NRB for many years, leads Great Commission Media Ministry, and is the creator of these outreach efforts. The campaign launched April 1 and was meticulously scheduled for maximum impact during April. Up to 40 phones kept ringing daily, as caller after caller requested the 120-page book, The Power to Change, that shares testimonies, the four spiritual laws, and other biblical material to lead the reader to accept Christ as Lord of their life.
[Video of Call Center http://youtu.be/TUI_T5HOj1w ]
India has 1.2 billion people steeped in the Hindu, Muslim, and some other faiths. The evangelical community is relatively small by comparison, and faces many obstacles, though officially there is freedom of religious worship and witness.
Our morning at the call center for the Mega City Campaign was charged with excitement, with phones ringing and people praying. (Link to video of call center) Day after day the scene repeated with even more intensity as the campaign built. Until April 20. And then the phones suddenly stopped. Nothing.
An urgent email from Hannu put out this prayer request:
“Our regional director … reported that extremist Hindus have cut all phone lines to the call center as of yesterday!
In addition, they have threatened to take action if all billboards at the main bus and train stations are not removed immediately. This of course is illegal by Indian law. (He) asks for our prayer support. He will be in touch with the police chief for Chennai tomorrow.
The cause for extremist concern is founded.
The campaign call center has logged 46,988 calls and 418,000 hits at the campaign website in just 3 weeks.
In three weeks 27,300 book orders have been logged. The stories of dramatic life change through faith in Christ have been viewed by at least 5 million people, quite possibly 10 million, on multiple prominent TV channels. Hundreds if not several thousand volunteers are on the streets ministering one on one, talking to people and handing out campaign flyers.
The 4th largest city of India is shaken with the message of Jesus' transforming power in the lives of men and women.”
I am reminded that our battle for the souls of men and women, boys and girls around the world is a spiritual warfare. The apostle Paul reminded the believers in Ephesus…and us…of that very fact.
"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places."
The phone lines were soon restored, and the campaign continued through the month. Tens of thousands have responded. Lives changed by the power of God.
In a meeting with the top evangelical pastors and ministry leaders for the campaign, I was impressed with their sense of urgency. In prayers and powerful words, over and over they expressed that now is the time for India to come to Christ. Some said if not now…it may be never. Though the enemy seems strong, our God is greater. And though the battle seems overwhelming, we can do all things through Him who empowers us and gives us wisdom and strength.
In Hannu’s email he asked for prayer for the ongoing effectiveness of the campaign and the safety of the ministry team, its leaders, and the many volunteers. But he also asked for prayer that the Hindu extremists “… might be saved and see God's love for them.” Join me in this amazing prayer.
Ministry Updates and Prayer Needs
As indicated above, we need to pray for the following:
Protection for all Mega City Campaign workers in Chennai.
The ability for the volunteers to take evangelism material to those wanting to know more about God’s power through faith in Christ.
In addition, my time there opened doors for the possibility of leadership and ministry training and organization. Pray for:
Wisdom for Christian media leaders in India organizing an association with a strong voice for evangelicals.
Future opportunities to guide and train those called to take the Gospel to the 1.2 billion in India through media.
While in Kathmandu last month I met a pastor from that city who grew up in Nepal’s second largest city. Pastor Rup Narayan Timsina shared with great passion the need for a strong Christian media voice in this growing industrial city in eastern Nepal. He has launched a community station that plays mostly Christian programming. We spent nearly an hour talking about the opportunity, and discussing ways we might help. Here are his needs:
Programming that can be translated and aired on the station.
Training for his small staff.
Upgrade in transmitter power.
A way to stay on the air even when local power is interrupted…which happens with some regularity and for as long as 14 hours at a time.
God is opening great doors for the Gospel in this country, and Radio 7 is expanding as the opportunities come. Pray for these special requests in radio and television:
The establishment of a radio station in Pristina, Kosovo, to bring Christian programming to this mostly Muslim nation. The license has been granted. $70,000 is needed for the transmitter and other broadcast equipment.
Radio 7 is expecting a broadcast license for the northern part of Albania in June, where their culture still allows for blood feuds, the taking of a life to avenge the death of another. Recently a pastor was killed as a result of a blood feud, leaving a 29-year-old wife and 2 children.
Pray for the training of staff for these new stations, and for the safety of those who go to Kosovo to do the training.
June Hunt of Hope for the Heart ministry will travel to be with Radio 7 for conferences. Pray for God to use her to heal hurting hearts and to bring God’s hope.
ELION Media Ministry has found office space and is now outfitting it for their production needs. This is a major step forward for the ministry. Its current prayer needs:
The completion of its offices.
Creating online Serbian Christian radio.
Additional workers to assist Sasko Bogeski in the ministry.
Financial support for the ongoing ministry work of ELION Media.
HopeFM has found an FM frequency closer to the center of Stockholm with better coverage of the capital city. The need for support within Sweden is vital in order for this ministry to take hold and impact the very secular culture.
Pray for the fundraising efforts to provide needed financial stability.
Pray for the acquisition of the frequency in Södertälje, Sweden.
Pray for the small staff of HopeFM and for Roger Arnfjell as they labor to establish a strong Christian radio presence in Sweden.
We will be in Ankara in a few days to visit with Radio Shema, one of two Christian stations in this nation of 76 million people, 97% of whom are Muslim. While we will have more specific prayer items next month, here are things for which you can pray:
A clear message of hope and peace found only in Jesus.
Wisdom, spiritual strength, and direction for Sonar Tufan as he leads Radio Shema.
Favor with authorities so they might continue to proclaim the love of God to a spiritually needy people.
God has positioned Romania as a potential hub of spiritual influence throughout the Balkans and into Europe and Russia. We work with two great ministries among many that are proclaiming the Gospel through media. Alfa Omega Television in Timisoara uses satellite to deliver programs that teach, encourage, and evangelize. Radio Voice of the Gospel, based in Bucharest, has nine stations across the country that impact that former Communist country with God’s Truth.
Prayer needs for Alfa Omega:
For the build out of its Communication Center.
For new production equipment to meet current needs.
For multi-channel transmission equipment that would allow Alfa Omega to broadcast in many different languages to reach the countries and cultures surrounding Romania and beyond.
Prayer needs for Radio Voice of the Gospel:
For additional stations to better cover Romania with solid Christian programming.
For continuing training for their extended staff in all locations.
For additional programming to better serve their listeners and help them grow spiritually.
Radio Gospel continues to desire an FM station that would cover Paris. You may remember us mentioning that almost 20% of the population of France lives in the Paris area. So far the broadcast authorities have not approved the applications by Radio Gospel.
Pray for the ministry and its board as they seek God’s direction.
Pray for the authorities who control broadcast licenses, that they will be moved to grant future applications according to God’s plan.
Pray for encouragement for those who serve in Christian media in a country like France, that ignores God and the Gospel.
My heart continues to be moved by the great impact of Radio Mosoj Chaski in Cochabamba, Bolivia. They reach one million Quechua listeners all over the Bolivian Andes Mountains, providing Bible study and Christian encouragement to all who tune in to this shortwave station. Prayer needs include:
Video equipment and training to produce video Bible study series.
Continued training for its radio staff.
God’s favor and blessing for translation work, itinerant Bible studies, publishing, and other ministry work associated with Radio Mosoj Chaski.
Radio Onda Paz in Barcelona is ready to enter a new phase as US Christian broadcaster Matt Stockman prepares to move himself and his family to Spain to give leadership to this important radio ministry. Some prayer needs:
Financial support for the Stockman family as they enter the mission field
A smooth transition for the family.
A receptive staff at Radio Onda Paz as Matt brings his vast broadcast experience to this dedicated group.
The impact of the Gospel in a fresh way in Barcelona and the whole region.
NRB Strategic Partnerships
The apostle Paul was not shy about asking for prayer for what God called him to do. He is a great example for us in so many ways. There are always financial needs for travel, administrative costs, etc. There are needs for wisdom and direction as new opportunities arise. But Paul reminds us of what is most important when he says in 2 Thessalonians 3:
"Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you;"
2 Thessalonians 3:1 (NASB)
We in the United States reap the blessing of the spread of the Gospel. We need to be ready to do everything possible that others, often in dark places and with strong opposition, might receive the Good News of hope and peace through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
For His glory…in His strength…by His grace,