God calls all of us to “do the work of an evangelist” (2 Tim 4:5). As Gary Ridley points out in another blog post, this work is not just with non-believers. Nevertheless, those of us who are called to serve as cross-cultural workers look for opportunities to share the Gospel with those who have never heard this good news. Typically, we expect that we will do so through sharing the Gospel in one-on-one conversations with our friends and acquaintances. Sometimes, we have opportunities to present the good news in public events through sermons or testimonies. A few of us might use Gospel tracts or other printed literature. But rarely if ever did we envision that YouTube could be our best platform for evangelism.

Digital missions

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have become much more interested in “digital missions” – how to do mission work through the Internet. We continue to see the strategic importance of living among the people we serve and learning their language and culture (see my recent blog post on this topic). But when we have fewer face-to-face interactions because of social distancing and quarantines, we look for additional opportunities to multiply our outreach. One of our colleagues in Japan has figured out a way to use YouTube for evangelism. The following article first appeared on the SEND blog and is used by permission.


SEND Japan missionary Kevin often asks his support team to focus on an acronym as they pray for him. One year it was PB&J:1Americans often use PB & J as an acronym for Peanut Butter and Jelly. Protection, Boldness, Abiding in Christ, and Joint Unity for his team. This year, Kevin is asking for JOY: Jesus First, Open Doors, and YouTube—a site not generally associated with missionary service!

Evangelism through the Internet

COVID-19 seems to have accelerated the potential for sharing the gospel via the internet. One Ukrainian church just baptized eight new members, including several people who heard the gospel via online sermons. In Japan, a young man was so deeply depressed that he became a recluse. Alone in his home, he turned to YouTube to find a way out of the darkness—and discovered someone sharing about Jesus. He accepted Christ and started attending church alongside one of our missionary families.

Videos based on John 3:16

Over the past several months, Kevin felt prompted by God to make a series of evangelistic videos based on John 3:16. He hopes his YouTube videos will result in many more stories like the ones shared above. You can watch the videos Kevin has posted here. For those of us who do not understand Japanese, clicking on “CC” will provide captions in English.

“I plan to break down John 3:16 phrase by phrase in Japanese and explain how this one verse provides true hope for everyone,” Kevin says.

An expanded vision

Kevin originally planned to post the eight videos and be done, but God had a better plan. During a few unexpected production delays, God began to expand Kevin’s vision and impressed it upon his heart to start releasing regular YouTube videos, in addition to the evangelistic series centered around John 3:16.

“In these videos, I will be sharing about Jesus and what he is teaching me. I’ll talk in Japanese and then translate for myself into English. Although it is a bold prayer, I am praying that one day, literally millions of Japanese people will be exposed to these videos, watch them, and ultimately believe in Jesus and be transformed by the power of the gospel.”

Kevin

Kevin’s church-planting team has also recognized the strategic value of using digital missions in multiple ways moving forward. They are still doing traditional missionary activities like Bible studies and street evangelism. Nevertheless, the potential to reach people using the internet and social media is also shaping the team’s efforts as they move ahead.

For additional ideas and resources for evangelism, check out the SEND U wiki page on this topic.