Roads, printed books, radios, televisions, DVDs and the internet: God has worked through people to use these major technological developments in communications over the last two millennia to reach the world with His gospel.
A walk through time
John Nemmers takes us on a walk through some of these technology milestones and shows us how some of the titans of our faith – Luther, Tyndale, CS Lewis, and Billy Graham – all understood the massive potential of communications technology to help spread the gospel and expand God’s Kingdom.
Check out our purpose to get an overview of how God is leading our ministry to use the internet for His glory.
The Roman Roads were the original social media. They were a network of roads consisting of more than 55,000 miles of paved highways. These roads allowed the gospel to be spread throughout the Roman Empire with relative ease. We believe God sovereignly allowed these roads to be built at just the right time (Ephesians 1:10) so that the Great Commission could get underway.
In 1440 Johannes Gutenberg invented the Gutenberg printing press. In 1517 Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of Wittenberg Castle Church. Friends of Luther translated his writings into German then used the printing press to copy and send them out. 14 days later all of Germany knew about his writings, 28 days later all of Christendom knew. Luther would go on to make similar pamphlets that were much easier to copy and spread throughout Europe. Luther used the technology of his day to proclaim truth to the world, and as a result, the Reformation began.
William Tyndale also used the technology of the printing press to proclaim the Word of God in the language of the people. He translated the first New Testament into English. By 1525 it was in print but read behind closed doors because it was unlawful to own an English Bible. In 1536 Tyndale was strangled and burned at the stake for translating the New Testament into English. Before he died he prayed that the King of England would have his eyes opened. A year later God answered this prayer and the King of England approved the Matthew’s Bible, which was the completion Tyndale’s translation.
In 1922 Paul Rader was asked by William H. Thompson, the Mayer of Chicago, to come down to City Hall and talk on their new radio program. Rader was the pastor of Moody Church of Chicago from 1915 to 1921. He saw the radio as God’s way of reaching the world in the technological era of the day. Starting in 1925 Rader and the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle broadcasted 14 hours’ worth of material every Sunday for the Mayor of Chicago. Rader became one of the first Christians to take advantage of radio as a means to spread the gospel.
The HCJB radio program was Founded in February 1931 by two American evangelists Clarence W. Jones and Reuben E. Larson. The objective of the HCJB was to get the gospel out to as many people as possible using short wave radio. The HCJB’s first broadcast was on Christmas day 1931. It served as one of the few places that one could hear the gospel around the world.
In September of 1939 Hitler invaded Poland. In August of 1941 England was in its darkest hour and people’s minds were far from thinking about God. But on August 6th, 1941, at 7:45 p.m. C.S. Lewis gave his first of many talks on the BBC radio titled “Right and Wrong: A Clue to the Meaning of the Universe.” Throughout the rest of WWII, Lewis would become the voice of faith, reason, and Christianity in England.
After preaching at a revival in L.A. in 1949 Billy Graham became an overnight superstar preacher. Graham used the media to spread the gospel to anyone who was watching on T.V. or listening on the radio. In 1950 Graham hosted a radio program called The Hour of Decision, this program was turned into a T.V. show in 1957, it ran for three years. Graham became known as one of the first Televangelists.
A new approach to spreading the gospel using technology started on April 1, 2003. The Way of the Master released its first T.V./ DVD series of street evangelism. In these series Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron go on the streets in an attempt to lead people to Christ and show viewers how to do the same. The Way of the Master was (and still is) revolutionizing the way we use technology to not only reach the lost, but also to teach other Christians to do the same.
Bobby Gruenewald, a successful website designer, was asked by his church (LifeChurch in Oklahoma) if he would put his tech skills to use for the gospel. After some failed experiments, Gruenwald and his team launched the Bible app known as the YouVersion. This new technology now allowed us to have the entire Bible in our pocket, anytime and anywhere. By 2012, 50 million people had downloaded the app and by the end of 2017, 300 million had downloaded it. What would Luther and Tyndale think about technology like this!
Here at the Run to Me Foundation, we are asking the question – what’s next? We want to dream big about what God might do next in this technology-driven world. The potential to reach vast numbers of people with the gospel is greater now than it has ever been. Our heroes of the Reformation could never have imagined the reach we have today at our fingertips.
Will you dream with us? And will you contribute to this new wave of evangelism that incorporates the thoughtful use of the internet? The Lord of the harvest is always looking for recruits (Matthew 9:37-38). Contact us if you’d like to serve the Lord by helping with our ministry.