(Photo: The Christian Post/Sonny Hong)
NASHVILLE – The head of a global ministry said he found it frustrating that many people, particularly in the West, show indifference when it comes to pointing people to Jesus Christ.
"Hundreds of thousands of people are entering eternity without Christ – that should sober us," said Wayne Pederson, president of Reach Beyond (formerly HCJB Global), at the National Religious Broadcasters' International Christian Media Convention on Tuesday. "There are huge stakes for eternity. In our culture, this western society, people are just indifferent to that, which is very frustrating."
Pederson said his organization, which seeks to bring the Gospel to those around the world who have not heard the message of Jesus, is trying to heighten the urgency of global ministry. He shared a two-minute video of Reach Beyond members declaring that they will no longer stand by while people are entering eternity without having heard the message of Jesus Christ.
Christians must leave their comfort zones and reach out to other religious communities if they truly want to see the Gospel reach the many people who have never heard the message of Jesus Christ, he stressed.
"You don't have to go across an ocean to be able to reach people who are far from God; they are in our backyard," the Reach Beyond leader stated. "Our problem is that we are so comfortable in our niche, we are not willing to take a risk and invite someone into our home that's different from us."
Pederson was part of a panel on international ministries at NRB 2014 alongside Lauren Libby, president and CEO of TWR International, as well as Wayne Shepherd, owner and president of Wayne Shepherd Communications. The session was moderated by author, filmmaker and speaker Phil Cooke of Cooke Pictures.
The discussion panel focused on a number of questions and issues affecting global Christian ministries, with Pederson offering Reach Beyond as an example of an organization that is calling itself to a higher level of commitment.
Libby, who is a member of the Board of Directors at NRB and is the co-founder of Educational Communications of Colorado Springs, comprising 15 radio stations and 28 translators, identified "the enemy" as the thing that scares him most at the present time.
"He's still active; he's still very much involved in the world."
The TWR International president then read from Isaiah 49:6 in the Bible, which he said speaks to him closely:
"It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel. I will also give you as a light to the Nations, that my salvation extends to the ends of the earth."
He said that at TWR, their mission statement is pretty simple – to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to the whole world by mass media.
"I think all of us sitting in this room have a calling from God. If we didn't, we wouldn't be sitting here," he said to the NRB audience. "We are involved in taking the greatest message to the entire globe that's ever been given to mankind. And what a privilege that really is."
In his message to Christians, Shepherd, who is a veteran radio broadcaster with more than 40 years of experience as a programming manager and radio host, including 33 years for Moody Broadcasting in Chicago, simply said: "Be ready."
"When the typhoon hit the Philippines a few months ago, I was so proud of our first response team, which has been organized and ready, and has been mobilized other times, but they were ready to move and set up a portable transmitter, and be the first and only radio station on the air that is not only sharing Jesus, but also sharing information about basic survival need during the typhoon," he said, referring to the devastating Typhoon Haiyan that hit the Philippines in November 2013, causing widespread damage to the region and a death toll of over 3,600 people.
"I can tell broadcasters that the best thing you can do for your listeners is give them a vision for the world. Give them something they can act on that's going to take the Gospel to the world," the Wayne Shepherd Communications CEO said.
He added that ministries need to believe that Christians will step up and support that goal.
"I would say that the best is yet to come. Yes, the world is a dark place, but what we're seeing happening in the global south, in places like India, China, some of the most populous places in the world, we are yet to see what the global south church is going to do."
Pederson pointed out that 90 percent of believers lived in North America and Europe 100 years ago. "Today, 70 percent live outside North America and Europe," he stated.
The international panel also presented awards for global ministries that have spread the message of the Gospel in various countries around the world.
International Individual Achievement Award: David Mainse of Crossroads Television System in Canada
- International Radio Ministry Award: Radio 7 for their work in Albania and Kosovo
- International Television Ministry Award: GOOD TV Broadcasting Corporation
- International Innovation Award: Samadhan - CBN India
- International Strategic Partnership Award: Project Hannah
- International Impact Award: Life Without Limbs, led by limbless evangelist Nick Vujicic
"We are really humbled to be amongst a panel of amazing ministries. We come into a country in a two-day, three-day period, and we'll reach 75-80 percent of that nation. Just last year, we reached 24 countries, and Nick was able to speak to around 400,000 people, in stadiums as large as 35,000 people," said David Gavrilovic, assistant to Vujicic, who accepted the award.
"We are really honored and blessed to be a young ministry, we are [in] year seven, and God continues to bless us with just being able to reach people in the worst places in the world."