Category Archives: National

American youth give Pope Francis unique anniversary gift

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Catholic Extension

Special to Inside The Pew

To celebrate the March 13 anniversary of Pope Francis’ election, the youth of America, with the help of Catholic Extension, areCatholic Extension giving him a unique gift: a close-up look at their efforts to extend beyond themselves and “make some noise.”

After the pope challenged youth to “make some noise” at World Youth Day in July, Catholic Extension asked young people to answer his call by dedicating a day to prayer, service or philanthropy – an “Extension Day.” They then encouraged young people to document their Extension Day on video.

More than 70 videos were received involving thousands of youth from 47 dioceses across the U.S. Top videos were determined by social media support and a panel of judges, including Father Dave Dwyer, director of Busted Halo; Rev. Father Mark Mary, co-host of EWTN-TV’s popular Life on the Rock program; and actor Chris O’Donnell.

This week Cardinal Francis George, chancellor of Catholic Extension, is presenting a selection of the videos in a special report to Pope Francis. Finalists will be chosen and announced later this month. In addition to the chance to have their videos viewed by Pope Francis, recipients will be eligible for grants to benefit their ministry. Based on the response, Catholic Extension hopes to make Extension Day an annual event.

“We were overwhelmed not only by the number of youth participating in Extension Day, but also by the compassion and creativity of their good works,” said Joe Boland, vice president of mission at Catholic Extension. “Young Catholics in America are extending the love of Christ in so many ways, and we believe that sharing this with Pope Francis will be a meaningful gift to him.”

Catholic Extension, which is a national organization that supports people, ministries and churches across America, has a special relationship with young Catholics, providing more than $3 million annually in support of programs that engage youth and nurture future Church leaders. To watch Extension Day videos and learn more about Catholic Extension, visit http://www.extensionday.org.

 

Conn. pastor dies in church after confessing adultery

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Bobby and Christine Davis

By Mark Ellis
ASSIST News Service

Bishop Bobby Davis, pastor of the Miracle Faith World Outreach Church in Bridgeport, Conn., dropped dead March 9 inBobby and Christine Davis church after his wife confronted him publicly about an infidelity in his past.

Bishop Davis, pastor of the church since its founding in 1967, was pronounced dead at Bridgeport Hospital. He and his wife, Christine, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last June. Bobby was a repeat guest on Trinity Broadcasting and also spoke at Promise Keepers seminars.

“After the service on Sunday the bishop’s family asked us to remain in the church and the bishop confessed to us something that happened long ago,” Judy Stovall, an elder of the church, told the Connecticut Post. “He wanted to come clean with all of us. He wanted to ask our forgiveness.”

“We were shouting, ‘We forgive you, we love you.’ But the stress of all of it — he had a heart attack,” Stovall said. “I held his head as he lay on the floor. … Our congregation is hurting now.”

The Christian Post reported a slightly different version of the incident, based on a congregant who wished to remain anonymous.

“He (Bishop Davis) had confessed it (infidelity) personally to his wife prior to the service, and she called a meeting after church with just the members and the members stayed. He wasn’t there at the time; he was somewhere else apparently. Neither of them were in the service that morning. They had one of their pastors do the service,” according to the source.

“From what I was told, she (Christine Davis) told the congregation what he had done. And so, when he comes through the door he had no idea what he was walking into. So it wasn’t even, ‘We’re gonna make an announcement today,’ in a unified way as a couple,” the source noted.

“I’m told that when he walked through the door she basically told him, ‘Tell them what you just told me,’ which is what induced the heart attack, because it’s not like he was walking into it knowing,” the source told the Christian Post.

“She said it and he said, ‘Yes, that’s right.’ She asked him to say who exactly it was. And he said, ‘Well, it doesn’t matter [because] that person has passed. God forgive, let’s get past it.’ Apparently it was his family members who reacted out in anger, from what I understand. It was not the congregation,” the source noted.

“It got physical. One of the sons attacked him. I was told one of the daughters poured water on him. It was like something out of, not even like the Old Testament, but a bad reality TV show,” said the source. “My heart is so devastated because it could have been handled in a private manner.”

Bishop Davis was known as a very black and white preacher. He also had an affiliation with The Potters House and Bishop T.D. Jakes.

According to a church biography, the couple initially held prayer meetings in the home of Christine’s mother. In 1987, they moved to the Harriet Street building in Bridgeport, and in 1998 they opened a new church facility in suburban Monroe.

Church leaders buying out theaters for screenings of ‘Son of God’

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Diogo Morgado

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (ANS) — American church groups are seeking to “take over” entire theaters for screenings of “Son of God,” theDiogo Morgado upcoming movie from 20th Century Fox, about the life of Jesus Christ, and based on the hit “Bible” miniseries.

According to Hilary Lewis, writing in the Hollywood Reporter, “Various religious organizations throughout the country have been buying out screens and distributing tickets to groups of thousands of people for ‘Theater Take-Overs’ on Thursday, Feb. 27, the night before the film’s officially released, according to production company Lightworkers Media.”

The story went on to say that Crossroads Church in Cincinnati is bringing thousands of people to a Cinemark theater, where “Son of God” will be showing on 13 screens at the same time.

“Our church bought out every screen in the theater,” Crossroads’ Brian Wells said in a statement. “If anyone comes to the theater to see another movie that night, they’ll be out of luck, unless we have a few extra tickets to give them!”

There are a few other theater buyouts for “Son of God” scheduled at Cinemark locations throughout the country, according to the theater chain’s marketing and communications head James Meredith.

“It’s very interesting to see this level of excitement around the movie,” Meredith said. “The interest level for meetings, events, screenings and buyouts seems to be on par with that of major blockbuster, tent pole or franchise movies.”

Mega-church pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., is buying out screens in eight different theaters throughout Orange County.

“I’ve seen most of the films about Jesus produced in the past 50 years, and ‘Son of God’ is the best,” Warren said. “We’re excited Jesus is back on the big screen, and we’re going to fill the theaters. I want every other faith leader in America to do the same. Whether you can buy out a whole theater, or just one screen, now is the time to show up. This is a rare opportunity to bring the story of Christ into our mainstream culture.

“We want to see Jesus in movie theaters where sight and sound can open up our senses and let grace come in. The message of the Gospel deserves to be on the big screen – and this is our chance to see it there.”

Besides supporting the film, Warren is also partnering with LifeWay Christians Resources to release a Bible study for movie.

The small group curriculum resource by Warren is said to be the “perfect companion” to “Son of God,” produced by husband-and-wife team Mark Burnett and Roma Downey. The study became available Feb. 15, two weeks before the movie hits theaters Feb. 28.

“Son of God: The Life of Jesus in You” is a DVD small group Bible study, which features Warren explaining how you can find your purpose in studying the life of Jesus, and is available at LifeWay Stores and www.lifeway.com/n/Product-Family/Son-of-God.

“There’s nothing more important you can do with your life than spending time getting to know Jesus,” said Warren. “Through the Son of God study, people will receive practical teaching on the life of Jesus and its impact on individual lives and life purpose. Jesus’ teaching trans forms from the inside out.”

The six-session study features video clips from the theatrical movie and custom videos from Pastor Warren explaining Jesus’ teachings and their impact on people’s lives. Topics include baptism, temptation, suffering, death, resurrection and ministry. Scenes from the movie such as Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist will help illustrate each topic.

Other churches and organizations, ranging in size from 10,000 to 4 million, are distributing tickets for a “Theater Take-Over.” Some pastors will also buy out screens showing the film in Spanish and Korean. There’s even a Catholic “Theater Take-Over” planned for Miami.

The Hollywood Reporter story also stated that various business leaders throughout the country are also donating tickets to churches and non-profits.

“Son of God” is a version of the hit “The Bible” miniseries, featuring new and used footage, focused just on the story of Jesus Christ. The Bible averaged 11.4 million viewers during its five-week run on the History Channel and became the top-selling miniseries on DVD of all time.

Mark Burnett and wife Roma Downey, said in a statement, “We’re very excited that the community is mobilizing to support ‘Son of God.’ The grass roots support is so important and the faith community is amazing when it mobilizes. Our hope is that the story and message of Jesus Christ will reach tens of millions of people nationwide.”

Burnett and Downey promoted the film at last week’s National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., where President Obama spoke to an audience of religious and secular leaders from around the world.

“We are going to spend around $10 million on commercials, and that is nothing. You may not even see a commercial for this. … The only chance we’ve got is the church community spreading the word,” Burnett said at the prayer breakfast, where 30 minutes of the film was shown to the audience. “We carried the backpack so far. We made it; we unbelievably got it in theaters everywhere. It’s now a great time for people to bring groups and bring people with them who need this message, who need to know who Jesus is.”

To find out more about the film, and see the trailer, go to www.sonofgodmovie.com.

TBN to host annual pre-Super Bowl special featuring player interviews

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Special to Inside The Pew

Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, is the biggest game of year; and, on Jan. 31 at 9 p.m. CST, the Trinity Broadcasting Network will get viewers ready forSuperBowlNYNJ Super Bowl XLVIII with a two-hour faith-and-football special from New York City, featuring on-the-field interviews with members of both the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks, as well as appearances by NFL and other sports greats, along with impacting stories about how faith in God has made a difference in the lives of athletes.

Hosted each year by former NFL player Mike Barber, TBN’s annual Super Bowl pre-game warm-up has featured impacting interviews with many past and present NFL legends, including Kurt Warner, the late Reggie White, Joe Theismann, Aaron Rodgers, Aeneas Williams, Roman Phifer, Don Beebe, and Adam Vinatieri, to name just a few.

Slated for this year’s TBN pre-game special will be segments featuring both team quarterbacks – the Denver’s Peyton Manning and Seattle’s 2012 NFL Rookie of the Year Russell Wilson – along with Super Bowl Media Day interviews with other game-changers such as Seattle’s Chris Maragos, Clint Gresham, and Russell Okung, and Denver’s Jacob Tamme and Joel Dresson.

“We’re excited about this year’s lineup for TBN’s pre-Super Bowl show,” Barber said. “This program is about more than just football. It’s men talking about how Christ has made a difference in their lives, in their families, and even in how they approach the game. This is going to be a life-changing show for our viewers.”

TBN Vice President Matthew Crouch said TBN’s annual Super Bowl pre-game “Praise the Lord” show is one of the network’s most popular and anticipated specials.

“We’ve been hosting this for the past fifteen years, and the list of past guests and participants reads like an NFL ‘Who’s Who,'” he said. “This year’s Super Bowl is sure to be one of the most exciting in history, and we’re looking forward to connecting with some of the players at TBN’s special pre-game warm-up.”

Americans celebrate MLK holiday with host of commemorative events

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Inside The Pew staff report

On what would have been the 85th birthday of the Civil Rights leader, a host of organizations are holding commemorative events inRon Sims honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Below are some of the events submitted to us.

In Seattle, Wash., the second annual Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast will honor local leaders with the Vision From the Mountaintop Award on Jan. 20 beginning at 7 a.m. at the Westin Hotel, 1900 5th Ave. Ron Sims, deputy secretary for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, will deliver the keynote address at the breakfast. The Rev. Allen A. Belton, Senior Partner at Reconciliation Ministries with Breakthrough Partners and The Beloved Community of the Puget Sound Area in cooperation with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Committee are collaborators of the breakfast.

In Grand Rapids, Mich., Bishop P.A. Brooks, founder of New St. Paul Tabernacle Church of God in Christ in Detroit, will speak during a chapel service at 10 a.m. at Cornerstone University. The Cornerstone University Multi-Cultural Organization will host Bishop Brooks as part of the campus MLK celebration. “Bishop Brooks will share historical moments from his personal relationships with Dr. King, Rosa Park and Mandela,” said Eric Lewis, multicultural advisor on campus.

In Charlotte, N.C., the YMCA of Greater Charlotte will host its 20th annual MLK Prayer Breakfast at the Charlotte Convention Center’sHilton Harper Crown Ballroom from 8 to 9:30 a.m. The keynote speaker is actor Hill Harper. Best known for his role as Dr. Sheldon Hawkes on CSI: NY, Harper is also a graduate of Harvard Law School and the author of New York Times best seller “Letters to a Young Brother: Manifest Your Destiny.” As a special gift to the city of Charlotte and in honor of the event’s 20th year, the YMCA will show a video titled DREAM Charlotte: A Tribute from the Voices of Charlotte’s Living Generations.

In Chattanooga, Tenn., Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, will speak to students at the McCallie School for boy on his grandfather’s philosophy and the role that it played in shaping both Dr. King and the American Civil Rights Movement on Jan. 20. King once called Gandhi “the guiding light of our technique of nonviolent social change.” McCallie Headmaster Dr. Kirk Walker said, “We are very pleased that our school community can salute Dr. Martin Luther King’s life and legacy by hearing from the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, a man whose vision and work served as an inspiration to Dr. King. Their message of hope and nonviolence remains as important today as it was in the last century.”

On Jan. 17, the student body of Indiana Wesleyan University held a wide celebration to honor King. The MLK Celebration Concert, Living the Dream, took place in the auditorium of the Phillippe Performing Arts Center on the main campus of Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, IN. Indiana Wesleyan University is an evangelical Christian comprehensive university of The Wesleyan Church. The University, founded in 1920, is committed to global liberal arts and professional education.

NFL ties, Christian entrepreneurship rank as top reads on Pew for ’13

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By Jacob Trimmer
Inside The Pew

A Christian clothing line founded by a former NFL player ranks as the top read story on Inside The Pew for 2013.

Mark Clayton, who was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in 2005, launched his own clothing line – My Christian T – back in 2011.Mark Clayton Although Clayton confirmed with Inside The Pew on Twitter in 2012 that he no longer operates the clothing, there is still an interest in the wide receiver’s entrepreneurial aspirations.

Clayton was traded to the St. Louis Rams in 2010, but injuries signed the Oklahoma Sooner’s career in the NFL. He told Sean Devine of Did You See That?! in September he has no regrets about his NFL playing days.

“Every minute, every experience, every relationship, I’ll never forget any of it. I’m working hard to come back and I hope to continue my career. Hopefully we can add some more stories, relationships, and experiences to my legacy.”

Three other sports related stories made the top 10. The filming of a biopic on high school football coach Bob Ladouceur in New Orleans came in at No. 4, while stories about Super Bowl XLVII coaches (and brothers) Jim Harbaugh and John Harbaugh were ranked No. 7 and  No. 8, respectively.

The story of Tyres Dixon, a Houston resident who works for the United Way and winner of the nonprofit organization’s Achiever of the Year, landed at No. 2 on the list.

Three stories from the Pew Business spotlight landed in the top 10. Whitening Lightning founder Jennifer Gerard (No. 3), National Association for the Exchange of Industrial Resources (NAEIR) president and CEO Gary C. Smith (No. 9), and Ezechiel “Zeke” Bambolo and First Born Son Inc. (No. 5) made the annual list.

Grelan Muse Sr., founder of Inside The Pew, was pleased at the amount of popularity generated by the spotlight. The section was officially launched in March.

“When we created the section, we wanted to help boost the presence of like-minded entrepreneurs who take Him in to the workplace every day. These types of stories are what our readers want to see. Hopefully, Christians who are considering entrepreneurship can draw from the stories of these individuals.”

Fly Away Records and its Rhythm of Gospel Music Award nominations (No. 10) and Melanie Stone’s column on the attributes of a Kingdom builder (No. 6) rounded out the top 10.

List of top stories

  1. NFL wide receiver launcher clothing line to give glory to God
  2. Goodwill Industries names Houston man 2013 Achiever of the Year
  3. Gerard to fellow entrepreneurs: Trust Him, great things will occur
  4. Filming of Bob Ladouceur movie takes place in New Orleans
  5. The First Born Son Inc. helps restore individuals and families
  6. Stone: Five marks of a kingdom builder
  7. Side of 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh we don’t see everyday
  8. John Harbaugh slated keynote speaker at FCA Maryland event
  9. NAEIR redistributes corporations’ unsold products to nonprofits
  10. Fly Away Records snags Rhythm of Gospel Award nod

Daystar offers to pick up ‘Dynasty’ if Phil Robertson suspension lingers

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By Tonya Andris
Inside The Pew

Phil Robertson’s suspension from “Duck Dynasty” is still intact, but he will be seen in previously recorded episodes of the show that Phil Robertsonwill begin airing on Jan. 15, reports Entertainment Weekly.

After Robertson’s personal beliefs about homosexuality caused A&E to suspend the Dynasty’s patriarch on Dec. 19, the Christian community and fellow “Duck Dynasty” cast mates came to defend Robertson. The family released a statement on the Duck Commander website, stating “We are disappointed that Phil has been place on hiatus for expressing his faith.”

The founder of Daystar Television Network announced Dec. 20 that his station would offer a prime nightly spot on their network.

Marcus Lamb, founder and CEO of the Dallas-based Christian television network, said in a press release Daystar stands with Phil Robertson and believes Christianity should not be shut out of the media conversation.

“My wife, Joni, and I are standing with Mr. Phil Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” for family values and biblical values,” Lamb said. “Our American constitution guarantees its citizens freedom of speech and freedom of religion. As a result, Daystar Television Network is offering a primetime slot to ‘Duck Dynasty.’

Lamb said if A&E refuses to recognize Robertson’s personal Christian beliefs, then he, along the rest of the Duck Dynasty family, is welcome on Daystar.

Faith Drive Consumer, a movement connecting Christian consumers with companies that are relatively more compatible with a biblical worldview, launched an online petition Dec. 19 calling for A&E to re-instate Robertson. In the first nine hours of existence, more than 70,000 signatures were garnered. The organization’s goal is to collect 200,000 signatures. As of 6 p.m. CST on Dec. 21, more than 169,000 individuals had signed the petition.

“Simply put, Phil Robertson is being censored and punished for quoting the Bible, and A&E’s treatment of him is punitive and highly discriminatory,” Chris Stone, the organization’s founder, told the Chicago Tribune.

To sign the Faith Drive Consumer’s petition, visit www.istandwithphil.com.

Copyright © 2013 Inside The Pew. All rights reserved.

Will Graham: Grandfather, Billy Graham, ‘is not doing well’

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By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

BELLFLOWER, Calif. (ANS)Evangelist Will Graham, the grandson of Billy Graham, has said that at the age of 95, Mr. Graham is close towill-franklin-billy-graham going home to be with the Lord.

In an exclusive interview at Hosanna Christian Fellowship, Bellflower, Calif., before he was to preach Dec. 11 at a special Christian event, he spoke movingly about Billy Graham’s frail condition.

“I saw my grandfather last week and he is not doing well,” said Will, the son of Franklin Graham. “He’s not suffering or anything. It’s just that old age has caught up to him and is sucking the life out of him.

“On Nov. 7 [with his My Hope America with Billy Graham* outreach], he finished his race and up until that time, God had protected his health and gave him supernatural strength and now, the only thing left is for him to come home. God has removed his hand of protection and old age has set in.

“He has been in a wheelchair for a long time. He can walk, but he is in the wheelchair because it is easier for us to move him and it safer for him.”

When I asked him what happened during his last meeting with his much-loved grandfather at his Montreat, N.C., home, he revealed that they didn’t talk very much.

“That’s the best thing of being a grandson,” said Will. “We don’t have to say much. We just sit there, look at each other and hold hands. His neck was sore as he had been in bed a whole bunch, so I rubbed his neck.”

He said they say a few words to each other, adding, “It was sort or grandfather-grandson, talk, more than anything.”

What would he like people to know about Billy Graham, the world’s most well-known evangelist, with whom I have had the privilege of working with on several occasions in Russia, Germany and Puerto Rico?

He replied, “My grandfather is the most humble man I have met. Some people often say, ‘How come Billy Graham never got caught up in money or with woman, like so many others?’ That was because God was protecting him from all that stuff because of his humility. The Bible says that ‘God gives grace to the humble,’ so because my grandfather was humble, God protected supernaturally from all that stuff and gave him grace. It was not because of anything that Billy Graham had done, but because of his humility before the Lord.

“To me he is one of the most humble men I have met. I just wish I had his humility all the time.”

I concluded the interview by asking Will Graham how people could pray for his grandfather, and he replied, “I don’t know how to answer that anymore. I wish He would give him strength, but I don’t think he needs strength anymore. It’s time to go home.”

Will Graham, the third generation of evangelists in the Graham family, later spoke at this special Christmas event at Hosanna Christian Fellowship (http://www.hosannachapel.org) and was joined by his old friend, Dennis Agajanian. Will had stepped in for Pastor Chuck Smith, who had been invited to speak by senior pastor, Garry Ansdell, but when “Pastor Chuck” passed away on October 3, 2013, Will agreed to take his place.

*My Hope America with Billy Graham was a nationwide effort to reach people across the United States with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Following a simple biblical model, it combined the impact of video programs (http://myhopewithbillygraham.org/programs/?) with the power of personal relationships. It was possibly the largest media event Billy Graham has ever been involved in.

The Mission Continues in Houston: Post-9/11 veterans train to serve local communities

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Bravo Service Project participants

Special to Inside The Pew

Veterans from across the country are reporting for duty in Houston to begin the next chapter of serving their country: leading theirBravo Service Project participants communities at home. More than 80, post-9/11 veterans will gather in Houston Oct. 25-27, for a weekend of leadership training and community service as part of orientation with The Mission Continues, a national nonprofit organization that empowers veterans to serve their country in new ways.

These latest recruits will join more than 700 other post-9/11 veterans who have worked with The Mission Continues to navigate the transition to post-military life by reconnecting to their communities and their sense of purpose through volunteerism.

Houston residents may join The Mission Continues in action volunteering at Cristo Rey Jesuit College Preparatory School of Houston on Oct. 26 and also witness all 80-plus veterans pledging an oath of service to the community before each returns home to spend the next six months volunteering with local nonprofits.

“Each veteran who volunteers with The Mission Continues is driven to serve others,” said Spencer Kympton, U.S. Army veteran and president of The Mission Continues. “With the support of engaged communities like Houston, we can empower veterans to have a positive impact here at home.”

As part of Delta Orientation, the new veteran recruits and Houston-area alumni of the program will team up with volunteers from Shell and Boeing, as well as project sponsor Benjamin Moore Paints to transform the campus of Cristo Rey Jesuit College Preparatory School. The volunteers will rebuild the school’s bleachers, plant new gardens and landscape grounds, and remove an outdated performance stage. The site improvements will support the school in its mission to empower students of all backgrounds to reach their full potential.

“The Mission Continues’ veterans are living examples for our students that leadership, determination, and service to others offer a path to empowerment and success,” said Dan Walsh, interim president, Cristo Rey Jesuit. “We’re excited and truly honored to welcome The Mission Continues to the Houston community.”

Through their service experience in Houston and throughout their six-month fellowships at home, veterans learn to translate military abilities into civilian skills, gaining valuable work experience and pursuing a defined post-fellowship goal: full-time employment, pursuit of higher education or a full-time position of community service.

Additionally, The Mission Continues is launching a Houston-based veterans’ service platoon led by fellowship alumnus Brian Wilson. Wilson, a former U.S. Army medic, spent his fellowship volunteering with the Lone Star Veterans Association as the Communications Director and has since enrolled as a full-time student pursuing a degree in communications. As Houston platoon leader, he’ll recruit local veterans to support a mission addressing community challenges in the Houston area through monthly organized service events.

“My fellowship helped me reconnect to that same fire and passion that I felt while serving my country and I want to make sure other veterans have a chance to experience that – even if just for a weekend,” Wilson said. “We’re excited to start recruiting and identifying a long-term mission that will make a difference to people in Houston.”

GodSpeaks movement reveals billboard messages ‘signed’ by God

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By Jacob Trimmer
Inside The Pew

Ministry on billboards is making a comeback.

GodSpeaks, a cross-denominational non-profit organization, is posting new messages “signed” by the God of the Bible on billboardGodSpeakss and other media throughout Ft. Lauderdale and beyond. Messages such as “I’ve been here all along. – God” or “Let’s pick up where we left off. – God” will give daily commuters and digital followers something to ponder outside of their busy lives.

After more than a decade of silence, GodSpeaks is making a comeback, a move influenced by current cultural trends. “Everywhere around us, people are searching for meaning and purpose in life,” shares Bradley Burck, director of GodSpeaks. “For many, God has never been an option.” According to a 2011 Lifeway Research Survey, statistics show that 46 percent of Americans never think about whether they’re going to heaven or not and almost 70 percent of Americans don’t read the Bible or any other religious texts on a regular basis.

“Our culture is in trouble. People are hurting, and GodSpeaks seeks to be a resource of hope and compassion,” Burck said. “Families suffer the effects of alcoholism; violent crime is rising in our cities; children are sexually exploited,” he continues. “GodSpeaks interrupts the hopelessness, through powerful and positive media, and offers God as the answer—because He is the One who changes lives.”

The original billboard campaign, developed in 1998 by anonymous donors, attracted the attention of the Outdoor Advertising Association of America and was featured as the OAAA’s national service campaign in 1999. As a result, 10,000 GodSpeaks billboards were posted in 200 cities across America—no small feat for a project that started as a citywide campaign with a handful of billboards and a limited budget. The campaign garnered local, regional and national media attention from CBS, “Good Morning America,” and the “Today” show.

Building on past successes, the present GodSpeaks movement promises to be more far-reaching than the first campaign. In addition to billboards, every available type of media will be utilized to spread the messages, including real-time digital responses to natural disasters, social breakdowns and international events. Messages will be positive, relevant and timely, and, with today’s media capabilities, will speak to situations at the points of impact.

Since the 90s debut of the campaign, thousands have responded with heartfelt emails and testimonies of God’s working in their lives. Burck remains hopeful that the new messages, particularly given the viral nature of digital and social content, will make a difference worldwide.

“We believe if we stop people, for even a split second, to remind them that the God of the universe is real and that He loves them, values them and wants a relationship with them,” Burck shares, “That moment has the potential to help change their lives forever—the ultimate goal for GodSpeaks.”

The origin of each published message can be discovered in specific promises or truths from the Bible. The newly redesigned GodSpeaks.com website offers visitors a closer look at how the Bible verses and messages tie together. It also features short devotionals and lengthier blog posts that further explore message topics. The website directs visitors to partner websites and contacts who are prepared to answer questions about God.