By Jennifer Taylor
Good News Productions International
P.O. Box 222, Joplin, MO 64802
Mike Schrage, Executive Director
Many organizations exist to evangelize the world; the mission of Good News Productions International is accelerating the work with relevant, culturally sensitive media strategies.
“We offer the church an opportunity to use first-world technology to reach Third World cultures,” says Executive Director Mike Schrage. “Our team in Joplin is just a small part of our ministry—we have regional production centers around the world and we touch a million people each week with our audio, video, and print projects.”
These initiatives are as different as the countries themselves. Good News began developing the “brick and mortar” regional centers in 1989 to produce video for local house churches, national TV, and everything in between. In Mexico the team creates programs for Spanish-speaking audiences that address issues like gang activity, alcoholism, and domestic violence. The center in the Philippines created “Asin at Ilaw” (“Salt and Light”), a weekly award-winning television broadcast focusing on practical issues and biblical living, with contact information for viewers interested in connecting with local Christians. In Eastern Europe a team shares print and video material using science and apologetics to combat post-communist atheism.
In addition to the 80 nationals leading these teams, Good News works with “NOMaD” teams, grassroots media production units designed to help the locals and missionaries already working in a region. This “National Outreach using Media and Discipleship” initiative allows small teams of three to work in less open countries like Vietnam, Egypt, and Uzbekistan.
Each team consists of “two preachers and a camera guy,” media-savvy nationals who are passionate about reaching their culture for Christ. “U.S. churches fund these teams and often provide equipment and training,” Schrage says. “A relatively small investment of $50,000 over three years can connect an American church with a ‘lean and mean’ team of locals creating content customized for the needs of their region.”
Last year GNPI also produced The Global Gospel, a series of 88 video stories, each 2 to 5 minutes long, that tell the life of Jesus.
“Years ago we worked with an artist who illustrated the life of Christ with hand-drawn pictures,” says Schrage. “These beautiful images tell the stories visually while two audio tracks share the narration. One track is sound effects—a hammer hitting nails, crowd noises. The other is the story, pulled 100 percent from Scripture.”
Because the pictures and sound effects communicate well with any audience, missionaries can simply record the biblical narration in their country’s language to create a high-quality, easily accessible resource to share the gospel. Good News plans to record narration in the world’s 25 most common languages, giving this version of the good news a potential reach of 3.6 billion people.
GNPI is also actively involved in creating apps to help people in North Africa compare the claims of Islam and Christianity, solar kits for areas without electricity, MP3 teaching materials for distribution among Buddhists in Southeast Asia, and other projects.
“The bottom line is taking God’s Word where white, American missionaries can’t easily go, and empowering nationals to lead the efforts,” Schrage says. “They can do it quicker and better than we can anyway! We’re here to help them.”
Jennifer Taylor, one of CHRISTIAN STANDARD’s contributing editors, lives in Nashville, Tennessee. Read her blog at www.seejenwrite.com.