“What if you could reach an entire village with the Gospel… from your desk? This is what happened to our teammate, Amin,” reports German church planter Jürgen Kramer, who ministers in Hamburg among refugees from Syria and Iraq.
During the lockdowns in Hamburg, Amin asked God: “What should I do? I’m at home and not allowed to go out. How do I reach people with the Gospel?” The answer came quickly with a phone call from a Yazidi friend in Northern Iraq. This friend shared how they were struggling against evil spirits. Black magic is unfortunately part of Yazidi culture, and many Yazidi have also been traumatised by ISIS.
“I prayed that God would release them and bring them freedom from these spirits,” Amin said. I urged my friend: ‘Please accept Jesus in your life, and ask the Holy Spirit to fill you and be with you forever.’ My friend agreed, and I told him: ‘If you don’t connect with God every day, those evil spirits will be back, and they will be even more powerful.’ After this conversation, my friend in northern Iraq decided he wanted to study the Bible together with me. He also invited a friend and their two sisters. God had answered my prayer.”
‘The two sisters went from house to house to share Jesus’
“For 4 months, we spent 3 hours every day reading and studying the Bible together. We also prayed, and I encouraged them to share Jesus with their friends in the university. During this time, we also decided to fast and pray that the glory of God would go from house to house among the Yazidi people. We would skip one meal each day for 10 days and spend that time in prayer. We would pray that each person in this community would know and experience the true love of God.”
“Two or three months after we completed this Bible study, I started receiving good news from my friends there. The two sisters had been going from house to house to share Jesus in their Yazidi community. I got to know more and more new believers who had learned of Jesus from these two women. When the sisters encountered someone who had questions they couldn’t answer, they would direct them to me, and we would search the Bible together for answers.”
As a result, there is now a vibrant Yazidi house church planted in this community, and more and more Yazidis are coming to know the love of Jesus Christ. This house church has formed a couple of teams that go out and visit villages and camps. “Please join us in praying that this Yazidi church will continue to grow!” Amin asks.
Within a year, over 100,000 people followed her discipleship messages and more than 100 started following Christ. For many it became a stabilizing force during the pandemic.
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Leia Eisenhower developed an Instagram and Telegram discipleship ministry, reaching over 100,000 people with the gospel.
Eisenhower (47) grew up in Brazil where her father served as a church planter. At the age of 14 God called her to ministry and for several years she served as a missionary with the Assemblies of God in Brazil, before moving to the USA where she joined the Civil Air Patrol as a lieutenant and became a U.S. Missions chaplain. In this role she oversees nine squadrons of over 2,400 people.
When in March 2020 the Civil Air Patrol had to shut down all facilities, Eisenhower began planning an online training based on a book she wrote in 2019 called ‘My Neighbors: The Theology of Relationships.’ The book uses the parable of the Good Samaritan to discuss relationships. She chose Instagram’s platform for its worldwide reach and accessibility of communication through direct messages.
“I started to record a Bible class in different languages, and every night I would get on Instagram and do a live midnight prayer. The discipleship part grew so fast that I had to delegate taks to other people,” she says. Within a year, over 100,000 people followed her discipleship messages and more than 100 started following Christ. For many it became a stabilizing force during the pandemic.
Eisenhower says the process of discipleship through her ministry comes first through direct messages on Instagram and then through an online Saturday morning class on emotional intelligence and counseling. Eisenhower then invites class participants to her Telegram group, where they receive a link to a YouTube course on discipleship. She assigned team members to take calls from people around the world who need prayer. They can be redirected to 18 countries through Instagram, WhatsApp and Telegram for prayer and discipleship.
As the community grows, Eisenhower hopes to make the structure of the online church official, with prayer teams and partners, members and donors. “I’m trying to get us fully recognized to be a church,” she says. “People will have more connection having the church in the palm of their hands.”
Eric Célérier was a 22-year-old new Christian, looking for work. Sure, he had three years of French cooking school under his belt, but he felt God was calling him to do something else. Someone from his church asked him if he would be interested working for the 1986 Billy Graham Crusade coming to Paris. “I said I don’t know who Billy Graham is,” Célérier said. “But I’m looking for a job.”
He still remembers the September 1986 Crusade at Paris’ Bercy Stadium. The view of Billy Graham preaching and thousands flooding the stage to give their life to Jesus. “It really impacted my life. When I saw all the people come to receive Christ, I said a prayer. I told God I want to be an evangelist. I want to win people to Christ like this man.”
More than a quarter of a century later, Célérier is at The Billy Graham Training Center in Asheville, North Carolina. Here more than 100 people from over 20 countries involved in Jesus.net, the internet evangelism movement he founded, have gathered for a five-day conference with one unified purpose: using the internet to reach people for Jesus. “I praise God every day,” the modest Frenchman said. “It’s really a movement of God.”
Tracing the steps of exactly when the online evangelism movement began is a little like figuring out who really invented the internet. Célérier recalls 1997 as the first time he started building tools for online evangelism, and 2001 when the first evangelistic website went live. But April 2005 was when the Knowing God website – the model that BGEA is using for PeaceWithGod.net – went live.
In the 7 1/2 years since launching in France, Célérier has seen more than 36.8 million people click on one of the Jesus.net websites that deliver a gospel presentation through video format. More than 12 million people have indicated they prayed to receive Christ and roughly 25 percent of those have filled out a personal information form, which has been used to send discipleship material as well as help new believers get plugged into a local church. “Recording decisions is just one step. It’s a measurement, not a goal,” he said. “The goal is that they would grow in their faith and get involved in a church.”
A network of 330 churches has signed on to help new Christians grow in their faith. Célérier’s team in France has worked hard to make sure new followers of Christ are given proper follow-up with discipleship information and connected with a local church in their area. “We try to move people along their spiritual journey, just like they would do at a Crusade,” Célérier said. “For them to connect to a local church is extremely important.”
The Jesus.net movement, which began in August of 2009, is quickly spreading around the globe. Many other countries are getting involved under the Jesus.net umbrella. You might want to check out the fascinating Google Earth map with real-time decisions for Christ in 3D. Every minute three people come to Christ.