(Photo: A Larry Ross Communications)
Known primarily for producing tightly shot, viral videos of celebrity testimonies, the "I am Second" movement shifted into a literary phase for the first time by officially launching its book of the same name.
Although the book was released earlier this month, publishers Thomas Nelson, Inc., commemorated the national launch of the I am Second book with a party featuring well-known “Seconds” (individuals appearing on the videos) on Saturday.
The book shares further details on the testimonies of 22 individuals seen on iamsecond.com, including James and Jolee, 2010 American League MVP and Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton, surfer Bethany Hamilton, “The Biggest Loser” season six winner Michelle Aguilar, Ultimate Fighting Championship star Vitor Belfort, Grammy award-winning artist Michael W. Smith, and St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford.
In addition to superstars, the book and the website offer the testimonials of less-famous people, including struggling Iraq war veterans, ex-prostitutes, drug addicts and others who deal with normal, but powerful, struggles.
I am Second co-author Doug Bender told The Christian Post Monday that he is excited to see the movement have another method to help spread the message of changed lives through people having a relationship with Jesus.
“The stories are longer since in the book we are able to get into a lot more detail,” said Bender, who also leads "I am Second" small group training classes. “The idea being that this is a tool for people to interact and share their faith with people who are not quite there yet.”
“When people are interacting with the book and the videos they are usually interacting with Jesus in a way they haven’t in a while. What the small groups do is allow them to have a continuing ongoing conversation about God, about Jesus, about the things they are learning,” he explained.
Launched in Dallas-Fort Worth in December 2008, iamsecond.com has had more than 6 million visitors from 217 countries and regions. More than 20 million pages and videos on the site have been viewed, according to officials.
Bender explained that the "I am Second" small groups formed as the result of both the book and videos on the website are a place for believers and nonbelievers to interact with each other.
“The small groups are meant for people to discover more without necessarily going and listening to a preacher on a Sunday morning because a lot of people just aren’t comfortable with it yet,” he said. “We’re hoping that the book helps people to share their faith in a way that they haven’t been able to yet.
“A lot of people have been doing it through the videos. It’s been a great medium. But the book, in a way, is even more transferable than a video. You just get a book and give it to somebody. This book really allows people to discover Jesus through the stories of real people, and people from all different walks of life.”
“Also, for people that are just looking, we are hoping to give people an introduction to Jesus through these stories,” he added.
The weekend launch party included guests such as Dallas Cowboy Bradie James and sports reporter and cancer survivor Tamara Jolee, who served as the host of the gathering.
"I have a platform playing football but I have just as many people excited about ‘I am Second,’" James said. "One thing I've learned is God has given me the talent of playing football but He's also given each of us a talent and a testimony.”
“I was scared to share my testimony because I wasn't sure people would relate, but I now know people can be impacted by that," he added.
Also, performing at the launch party were the Newsboys and illusionist Jim Munroe. The Newsboys closed out the party with an acoustic set including songs from their newest album, God’s Not Dead which features the track “I am Second.”