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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...




Network211 Goes Global for Evangelism

By John W. Kennedy
Feb. 9, 2014

Liem and Dam Nguyen left Vietnam in 1992 to pursue the American dream. Settling in San Diego, they gradually became prosperous, investing in multiple properties and starting several thriving businesses.

But by June 2011, Dam felt as though her world had fallen apart. Businesses had failed, investments lost value, and her marriage to Liem looked rocky. The couple’s only son, 22-year-old Dong, had died from a  terminal illness.

The deeply depressed Dam planned to swallow an overdose of sleeping pills to end her grief. Before doing so, Dam typed an email to her sister Hoa in Vietnam, explaining that she planned to end her life.

Hoa read the email and immediately began a Vietnamese-language Google search for “loss of hope.” A Network211 “Journey Answers” website in Vietnamese popped up. Hoa phoned Dam, and told her to listen to a message about finding hope.

By watching the video on the Internet, Dam changed her mind about killing herself. Later, a Network211 counselor prayed with Dam to accept Jesus as her Lord and Savior. Subsequently, Dam led her husband, Liem, and the couple’s three daughters — along with her sister Hoa — to salvation in Jesus.

Network211 (the numbers are pronounced “twenty-one/one”) is the brainchild of George M. Flattery, who much earlier pioneered International Correspondence Institute, an Assemblies of God distance education ministry now called Global University.

In 1998, the then 62-year-old Flattery sensed the Lord telling him to use the Internet to make gospel presentations to 10 million people. The goal seemed so audacious Flattery didn’t mention the vision to anyone for years.

“Back then we thought we were cutting edge if we had a laptop and email,” says Flattery’s son Mark, now CEO and ministry director of Network211. The ministry utilizes “21st-century technology to communicate the first-century gospel.”

As an international ministry of Assemblies of God World Missions, in October 2008 Network211 launched Project 10Million as a means of “presenting the gospel globally to all people.”

The original objective of reaching 10 million people in 10 years turned out to be accomplished in half the projected time. By October 2013, a total of 10,142,143 people from 236 countries and territories had visited the site. Of those, 612,608 sought prayer, while 153,174 made a “discipleship connection.”

“It’s like we’ve been holding revivals the last five years with 10 million visitors,” Mark Flattery says. “Over 600,000 came down to respond to the altar call, and 152,000 said, Follow up; come to my home and visit me.”

Because the goal of 10 million was reached in half the calculated time, Network211 has set a new prospect of 100 million visitors on an accelerated schedule by 2023. George Flattery no longer is skittish about lofty aspirations.

“One day, God will give us the ability to use technology to reach everyone throughout the world,” he says. “We are going into the harvest fields to get it done.”

Project 100 Million encompasses two primary evangelism websites, JourneyAnswers.com and WhoJesusIs.com. JourneyAnswers.com provides biblical responses for 13 universal life issues such as shame, brokenness, guilt, fear, anxiety and emptiness.

Those who click on a theme word see a pointed message of five minutes or less, a conclusion that Jesus is the solution to the concern, and a prayer of salvation response button.

WhoJesusIs.com includes video explanations of Jesus’ identity as God’s Son, and His role in providing salvation to a lost world.

“We get right to the issue,” says Mark Flattery, who leads a staff of a dozen Network211 AGWM missionaries in Springfield, Mo. “People want an immediate answer, not bells and whistles.”

With funds from Light for the Lost, Network211 purchases Google ad words related to those themes, increasing the likelihood that Journey Answers — which is available in 10 languages — will appear on or near the first page of a search. Making it to the front-page listing for a search is the result of a complicated formula that fluctuates depending on time of day, access location, amount bid for a word, and other factors. The bottom line is that for every dollar invested by LFTL, 13 people access Network211 websites.

Viewers also have the opportunity to ask questions and fill out prayer requests.

Those who click on an evangelism response receive a reply within 48 hours. More than 400 Network211 volunteers recommended by their pastors have been trained to answer spiritual inquiries. These Internet missionaries, referred to as 1-2-1 connectors, are mostly based in the U.S.

The WhoJesusIs.com website features a high-definition clip from 2013’s The Bible miniseries on the History Channel.

In locations where an AG church is nearby, those who inquire, if agreeable, will have contact information forwarded to a local pastor. Sometimes the results are phenomenal. For example, in India a woman who saw the Network211 site accepted Jesus as her Savior, received a visit from a local pastor, and went to church the next Sunday morning. Now, 53 of her relatives are part of the congregation.

Mark Flattery, who previously served as AG World Missions Pacific Oceania area director, says it is important for Network211 to present biblical truths in the midst of an online world that often offers unsound advice.

“In this day and age, people want an online answer — now,” Flattery says. “We have to be there presenting Christ.”

Christians are entirely capable of keeping pace with technology, according to Flattery.

“The Internet is able to synergize like no other tool and get the message to the people,” he says. “Practically all forms of communication can be used: audio, video, podcasts, written sermons. The Internet could reach everyone on mobile devices.”

Online evangelism can take the time-tested practice of handing out gospel tracts to a new level.

“People come looking for answers online,” Flattery says.

Another way in which Internet evangelism supplements in-person ministry is availability — people in nations where missionaries or even churches aren’t welcome can often find Christian Internet sites. In remote regions or in places where overt evangelism is dangerous, viewers can access Network211’s “online church.”

This affiliated site, GlobalChristianCenter.com, helps new believers grow in their faith. A new sermon every week features a biblical book study. An online discipleship program, The Jesus Path, offers Network211 and Global University discipleship classes for free. The site contains multiple ministry and missions resources.

A Network211 content syndication site allows a local congregation to adapt almost all the ministry’s content for its own customized use.

An additional ministry site, GlobalFriendLink.com, is akin to Facebook for Christians. Members share status updates, photos and videos with friends or groups. But the focus is on what the Lord is doing in their lives via testimonies and prayer requests.

Meanwhile, spreading the gospel remains the primary thrust of Network211. For some, such as Dam Nguyen, the interaction is lifesaving, on earth and for eternity.

“A great number of people are desperately looking for help,” Mark Flattery says. “We are able to give them truth and direct them to a local church. As the Lord leads, and with the support of our ministry partners, we will launch Network 211’s Project 100Million, with the goal of presenting the message of Jesus Christ to 100 million people worldwide.”


JOHN W. KENNEDY is news editor of the Pentecostal Evangel.

 

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