This week, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s Internet evangelism ministry hit a milestone: 4 million people indicating decisions for Christ. What makes this ministry work? And who are these 4 million people?
A quick look at the SearchForJesus.net website and you’ll find numbers that are constantly changing. The screen shows in real time the number of people being reached through BGEA’s Internet evangelism ministry, Search for Jesus, and displays the countries where people are online seeing and hearing the Gospel.
Internet Evangelism Director John Cass kept an eye on the Search for Jesus/pray page this week as the number of people deciding to follow Christ neared 4 million. Anyone can visit the website to watch these decisions in real time on a spinning, 3-D globe.
As Cass watched, the ministry was reaching people in dozens of countries, many that are closed to more traditional methods of evangelism.
“We should never, ever, ever underestimate what God is doing,” he said. “God’s amazing. … He’s reaching people where they’re at.”
So how does it work? Search for Jesus has an evangelistic website called PeaceWithGod.net, which gives a clear Gospel message through a series of videos and Scripture.
People around the world find this website in various ways, with many coming through Google searches. When they search for answers to spiritual questions, they might find a link to PeaceWithGod.net in their search results.
The people reached by this ministry span all ages and backgrounds. One 85-year-old woman from Texas found the site as she searched online for finding purpose in life. Meanwhile, a father from Oklahoma came to PeaceWithGod.net looking for comfort as his young child battles cancer. One young man wondered if God will help him be a better person even after all his sins. The young man ended up giving his life to Christ through the website.
BGEA launched its Internet Evangelism ministry in April 2011. Since then, the Gospel has been presented more than 20 million times across the globe. Of the 4 million people indicating decisions for Christ, nearly half a million showed interest in receiving follow-up and discipleship materials. Search for Jesus is also working to connect new brothers and sisters in Christ to the local church, taking them from the online world to the offline world.
It’s exciting to watch people worldwide decide to follow Christ, Cass said, but the emphasis has never been on numbers. The Search for Jesus team knows that God can use the ministry to help change individual lives. The team spends time every Wednesday praying for these online visitors—often by name—and asking God to continue using SFJ to spread His message of hope, love and forgiveness.
The team isn’t alone in ministry. Search for Jesus includes 322 trained volunteers who chat with online visitors, answer their spiritual questions through email and guide them in a free, online discipleship course.
Tracey, a trained SFJ volunteer, guided a woman named Olivia through the online discipleship course KnowJesus.net last fall. Olivia was an atheist who struggled with abuse and had attempted suicide. Tracey talked to her about God’s love and forgiveness, and after finishing the course, Olivia gave her life to Christ and is passionate about her relationship with Him.
No matter how people find PeaceWithGod.net—a Google search, Facebook, Twitter, billygraham.org or a friend’s recommendation—God is clearly in control.
A man from California watched Billy Graham’s latest message, “The Cross,” online, then visited PeaceWithGod.net. “How do I know that I am saved and that God really loves a sinner like me?” he asked. The man was ready to let Christ take the lead and said he prayed to receive Him.
“We should be excited anytime the globe spins,” Cass said just hours before hitting the 4 million decision mark. “I’ll be excited when it’s 4 million and one.”