God is moving in the world unlike at any time in history. With Christianity now centered in Africa with over 700 million Christians and China exploding with the Gospel, many Christians and Non-Christians are moving away from their homelands and scattering around the world.
Some researchers estimate that 40% of the world does not have access to clean water, but 70% have a cell phones. The opportunities to reach the world thru digital media are endless.
Today we will dive into what one organization is doing to advance the Gospel and discipleship digitally. We will hear from one of the most creative and innovative organizations I know, Good News Productions International.
Today, Mike currently serves as President for Good News Productions, International—a multi-national, Christian pro-church organization whose mission is to share the Good News through strategic evangelism and provide effective resources to increase global disciple-making efforts because GNPI's vision is to fill the earth with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
The Joshua Project: https://joshuaproject.net/
Christ’s Church of the Valley: https://ccv.church/
CCV Missions: www.ccv.church/missions
Let’s Go 360: letsgo360.org
Pastor Larrie Fraley: linkedin.com/in/larrie-fraley-53445032
Larrie: [00:00:36] Welcome to another episode of Let's Go 360. And today we are going to be talking with Mike Schrage, the executive director at Good News Production International. You know, God is moving around the world like no other time in history. And with Christianity now centered in Africa, with over 700 million Christians in Africa exploding, many Christians and non-Christians are moving away from their homelands and scattering around the world. Some researchers estimate that as much as 40% of the world do not have access to clean water, but 70% have access to a cell phone. You know, the opportunities to reach the world through digital media are endless. And today, we're going to dive into what one organization is doing to advance the gospel and discipleship digitally. We will hear from one of the most creative and innovative organizations I know, Good news Production International. And today, Mike Schrage, a good friend. He was born in 1956 in Highland, Illinois, and he graduated from Southern Illinois University in 1977. And three years of managing a large farming organization and Operation Mike attended Ozark Christian College to augment his biblical and cross-cultural studies. He married Carolyn in 1981, and in 1984, Mike and Carolyn began to serve as missionaries working in development work, church planting and church growth in Kenya for 19 years. Now, today, Mike currently serves as president of Good News Production International, a multi international Christian pro- church organization. Carolyn, she serves as the executive director of Life Choices, a medical clinic and resource center in Joplin, Missouri. Life Choices currently has two locations in Joplin, with a third opening later on in Cartlidge, which I believe is now open. And so Mike and Carolyn have been great friends of mine for many years, and they have traveled with with me and my family and my wife together to Africa and back. And, you know, I'm honored to partner with both Mike and Life Choices and Carolyn. And so, Mike, welcome to the show.
Mike: [00:03:07] Thanks, Larrie. Good to be here.
Larrie: [00:03:09] You know, Mike, before we dive in, share with us a little bit about your story. How did Mike and Carolyn become such an amazing team?
Mike: [00:03:20] Well, I don't know how amazing we are, but I became a Christian in college and later worked for her uncle and he did the introductions and we got to become good friends. And ultimately we decided that both of us want to serve on the mission field. We got married and a year and a half later had our ten week old daughter got on a plane and went to Kenya.
Larrie: [00:03:50] Well, so I know we're not going to spend a lot of time today on what you did in Kenya, But I do want to give our audience a chance to hear what your ministry was like during those 19 years.
Mike: [00:04:01] Yeah, sure. We went to the Pokot people in the northwest part of Kenya. They were considered an unreached people group, meaning that less than five or 10% of them knew Jesus. We lived in a mud hut. My wife is a nurse, and so she did medical clinic. I did agricultural work. And through those two avenues, we were able to build friendships, tell about Jesus and begin nine small churches in the area.
Larrie: [00:04:36] Well, you know, you and I have traveled back there and it's many years later, you can still see the fruit of what you two did. So how about telling us a little bit about how you found your way to Good News Productions?
Mike: [00:04:50] Well, it's easy because my father in law Ziden Nutt, is the founder. So Carolyn's dad. So I knew about it when I was dating her. I heard about it in our home church, that supported that organization as a ministry. And then over the years as missionaries in Kenya, we went ahead and used GNPI in our own ministry outreach. In those days, we went ahead and created filmstrips that were in the local language, visualizing with local people about who God was, the church, what it's about and who Jesus is. And it was very effective, along with our outreach and other partnerships with our Kenyan brothers and sisters. Those filmstrips helped us start over 100 and some churches in the Swahili speaking area of Kenya that we later moved to.
Larrie: [00:05:44] Hmm. That's amazing. So what is Good News all about, then? What does the organization do?
Mike: [00:05:51] Right, Larrie? GNPI or Good News Productions International creates media to share Jesus, bottom line. The technologies we use in those days of the forties and some years ago was filmstrips. But now today it is the media technology of the Internet, video, social media platforms. So we have 25 media production teams around the world and we really believe that nationals know best. So we train nationals in India to use technology to create media that shares who Jesus is. If you're in Africa, you'll see only Africans. If you go to Mexico, you only speak Spanish and see Mexican folks. So with nationals, there's no need to translate. They already speak the heart language. They understand the heart issues. All we have to do is train them in the technology and as they're connected to local churches, they do the work. And so today, those 25 teams have around 100 GNPI staff around the world.
Larrie: [00:07:04] And I know over the years you've really transitioned, I guess is the right word, to different technology as it as it came about. So what was what was an example of the technology that was used when Ziden first started?
Mike: [00:07:23] Right. It would be film strips, film, 16 millimeter film, in that case, those would be the first two that he used. Then later on in the eighties, VHS tape would come on the scene. Then later we would do uplink from our station in Joplin, Missouri. And that was a big deal. I mean, we could cover one third of the world with a satellite uplink. And of course, today it's the Internet which can get into anybody's home anywhere in the world.
Larrie: [00:08:01] Now, I know at one time you actually created these little suitcases that had these little pelican boxes that you opened up. And inside was a projector, a battery, and you were able to actually present the gospel, the Jesus film or whatever media you chose on a on a sheet or a side of a wall in the middle of Africa. In had no electricity because it was all solar charged. Tell us a little bit about that, about that device.
Mike: [00:08:35] Yeah, they were called solar kits and like you said, they were inside a durable pelican case and they go to places where there's no electricity. And one of the cool stories I heard recently about using one of these 600 that circulate in areas around Africa, Southeast Asia, Central America was with a Kenyan evangelist on the coast of Kenya, and he had opened the solar kit and was getting ready to show as the sun was going down, showing the film. And he realized he didn't have the white sheet. They use them sometimes is their own bedding. And so he had obviously forgotten it in the village where he was the night before. And so he says, Oh my, what am I going to shoot on? What am I going to do? And so he saw the farmers bringing their cattle into the corral. And one of the cows, they're all docile and very used to humans. One of the cows was very large and was white. And so he asked the farmer to bring that white cow out, tether it next to a clump of grass. And so the cow got an extra feeding and her belly was used as the screen for that night showing. And I thought, that's a cool illustration of African ingenuity and American technology.
Larrie: [00:09:50] Well, that's an example of how you just kind of kept going with the technology. And what are some of the new technologies that are you're introducing and exploring.
Mike: [00:10:00] Well, social media platforms are very promising. Of course, we as Christians are working on a rented platform because Facebook, for example, Mr. Zuckerberg owns if it's YouTube, so on and so forth. But still, there's just huge opportunities with Facebook and Tik Tok, Instagram to go ahead, create media in local languages that, for example, in the Philippines, a pastor there records a daily five minute think about it Bible thought and encouragement lesson. And thousands of Filipinos are listening through Tik Tok to what is produced in our studio as they're commuting to and from work. That's just one example of how we can get from their phone to their heart.
Larrie: [00:10:55] And that's amazing. I know, when we went to Sudan, I don't know whether you remember that trip, but we went to Sudan and we landed in a basically a cow pasture. It was some resemblance to a runway. But I know we had to fly over the runway a couple of times to clear the cattle off the landing strip. And we landed and I got off the plane and just checked my cell phone thinking that I was going to have to just might as well turn it off. And before I could turn it off, my phone rang and I'm looking at my phone in the middle of well, not in the middle, but in the lower part of Sudan, in the middle of a of a cow pasture corn. I mean, there was no nothing around. And my phone rang and I had five bars and I was astounded that the cell coverage in Sudan was better than I was getting here in Phoenix. That just told me that we have access to people that we've never had before through technology. Do you remember that day?
Mike: [00:12:02] I sure do. And it definitely something that was a shock for me coming back from Kenya after almost 20 years of work there in 2003. Moving to Karl Junction, Missouri, and the two weeks before I left Kenya, we got on a safari and the driver had found where the leopard was because he was texting back and forth with other drivers who had tourists. That was using a cell phone. Now I go to Karl Junction, Missouri, Great USA, and I'm having to stand in my bathtub in the northwest corner of the house in order to get four or five bars. So it was obvious both you in that landing strip and me and my house, that we don't necessarily have the clearest access to all kinds of technology because in places like Sudan, there's no wired phones anymore and so there's no competition. And so cell coverage is very crisp and very clear and therefore a huge opportunity for us.
Larrie: [00:13:06] Well, I can't help but believe that that's God's gift to us as he has given us the resources to fulfill the great commission. And, you know, every time I think about how technology is advancing, I, I can't help but picture Jesus sitting on the Mount of Olives and his disciples are all around asking him questions about the end times. And he sums it up, as we read in Matthew 24:14, and this is the Gospel of the Kingdom, and it will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations. And then the end will come. And so here we have our assignments and we have our resources and we have our minds that God has given us the technology that God has given us. It's pretty much up to us, right?
Mike: [00:13:55] Absolutely. You know, Paul and Jesus had the Roman road system. The Gutenberg press was there making Bibles affordable for the common man. And now we've got the Internet and we've got social media platforms and we have video production to give as tools, I believe, to the church for the church to redeem their purpose so that we can do exactly as you said and fulfill that scripture you just quoted.
Larrie: [00:14:24] Mike, do you have any stories or statistics that you can share with our listeners where people have found their way to Christ and have found Christ through, let's say, a digital introduction or some use of technology?
Mike: [00:14:38] Yeah. One of the cool stories started right at about COVID starting time. So about March or April of 2020 in Delhi, India, and a young college age Hindu woman, college student had befriended a Christian in one of her classes at university. Covid came and they couldn't go, and they were studying everything online like we all heard. A lot of people did well, we shifted as well and had placed our church worship service online. It was simply called Hindi Church online. And this young college student had heard about that from the Christian friend. And so on a Sunday morning, her parents, though, being Hindu worshippers and followers, thinking their daughter was being very respectful, closing the door, and she was just going online to do more of her studies. Well, it turned out she was actually logging on, quietly, to Hindi church online. And there she saw and discovered what Christians really believed about their Holy book about Jesus, that better guru. And a long story short, through COVID, Larrie, this young Koy gal there in Delhi without a lot of pressure and shame from her parents or others that might have been stronger Hindu practicing people, she got aware of Jesus was introduced to Jesus and now follows Jesus. That's just one personal example of many that I could give you.
Larrie: [00:16:10] Well, I still you know, in fact, you can see them on your website, of these people that are sitting around outside of their huts watching the gospel being presented on that little suitcase that we talked about earlier. And just in just that one device, one tactic that is being used today, you know, people are coming to Christ through the use of some of the things that you guys have come up with. Is there anything new? Is there any kind of…what's exciting you about the future?
Mike: [00:16:46] Oh, I think there are several things, Larrie. I'd go back to. First of all, suggesting Hindu church online. We have launched that together with our Indian brothers right at the onset of COVID, as I mentioned. And it's gone as high as 635,000 devices logging on for a single worship service. That particular Sunday. That's we're still today. After almost two years of using the strategy, we're running a solid 440,000 devices. So if you have just two people per device, you're coming to 800. So you're pushing a million people that are watching Christians worship. And there's a, at the bottom of this worship service, what text number that people can call in. And ask for a copy of the service. They can ask for a download of a New Testament or a Bible. They can ask for prayer. They can ask for now, outside COVID, A visit by a pastor. They can ask for where the local church is. All the ways that we can engage, we estimate that we're running about 350 to 400 solid contacts per week. So the Internet is this giant fishing net that's gathering people. That's just one of several technologies that I'm really excited about.
Larrie: [00:18:18] And you recently created an app called Redux, which helps you kind of track the people that you meet, helps you to pray for them, helps you to help disciple them by providing them with resources. Tell us a little bit about that.
Mike: [00:18:35] Yeah. This app is a prayer and discipleship app. And what I like about it, Larrie, is that I have it on my iPhone and I grab my cup of coffee at six in the morning and I can sit in my recliner in my house in Missouri. And I have these folks, both family members that don't know Jesus issues that some of my colleagues or peers have, and even people around the world in India and Stuttgart, Germany and other places. And I can go and just methodically remind and pray for them. And at times, the spirit prompts me and I can jump out and send them a text. And I've had more and more occasions where people will say, Mike, thank you for praying for me today. Thank you for remembering me. And I had one instance where a guy who is a former Muslim married to a German lady there in Stuttgart, Germany, specifically, he had had a car accident and I just texted him and he got up out of the car accident and grabbed his phone. And the first thing he saw was that text from me saying, Hey, brother, I'm praying for you. And he said, God so calmly and assuredly spoke to his heart and said, My brother is here. I see you. You are safe. I have people that you know and love that are praying for you around the world. So this app is allowing me to travel around the world in praying and encourage people. And then also at a church level. It can allow people to, as you say, monitor and see who's really doing praying and discipling and find out those people's hearts needs and stay really intentionally connected with them. And it's really been something, I think starting next year, after we finish the beta testing of it, it's going to be a great, great discipleship tool.
Larrie: [00:20:29] Well, you know, I'm on that dating beta testing group and I'm excited about it because I as you know, I'm part of a motorcycle ministry. And our mission is to reach those bikers, particularly those Harley-Davidson bikers, because every Harley-Davidson dealership has a chapter that of social riders. And we as a member of this ministry called Black Sheep, we go and we're responsible for taking care of those and of those members. And so it's really going to be helpful as we meet new members to be able to meet them, learn their name and learn a little bit about them, some of their prayer requests, and then log them into this app. And it helps to remember their name. And we pray for them on a regular basis. So I'm excited to introduce that to our entire Black Sheep Ministry when we get that all working well. So thank you for that.
Mike: [00:21:28] Absolutely.
Larrie: [00:21:31] You know, before we wrap up here. Are there any certain people, groups that we should pray for or we should look at closer?
Mike: [00:21:46] Well, numbers are pretty discouraging, Larrie. The church has been existing for thousands of years and we still have well over 3 billion. That's a B number of people that don't even know who Jesus is. And they're really locked in the majority of three different religions. And that being, I think there's 1.6 billion Muslims, there's 1.2 or 3 billion Hindus, and I think well over half a billion Buddhists is three major religious blocs. And if we as Americans, we don't understand their worldviews, we don't understand their religions, and yet they make up close to almost a third, if not almost a half of humanity working on the planet. And we, the church are told, care of our environment, but we're also to care for every person. And I like what my wife has taught me over the days, is that every person, whether they're someone who doesn't know Jesus around the corner or someone like a Buddhist across the world, they're really pre- followers of Jesus. They just don't know it yet. They just don't know him. And so I would say that we really need to pray as Americans, “Lord, help us be more bold with the people who aren't like us around the corner, in our workplaces and our schools.” And then just with that prayer boldness, to just make a friend with them and understand them. And I've learned that I've done that and have very quickly become friends with their families overseas. And that's how the church kind of spreads.
Larrie: [00:23:26] Very well put. You know, now that I think about it, there's as you as you said, over a third of us who don’t know Jesus, don't have access to Jesus. And that's over 3 billion, almost 4 billion people in in the world. And those people are going to die someday. And so in the next 50 or 60 or 70 years, however long, those 3.7 people are going to die. And they could die, never hearing the name of Jesus. And so it is up to the church. And Mike, I just so appreciate what your organization is doing. And so we'll wrap up today. Is there anything specifically we need to pray for you or for Carolyn?
Mike: [00:24:15] Well, I would love for your listeners to pray for us at GNPI and our 100 team members, because starting next year we are rolling out our most ambitious vision and dream ever, and that is that we want to make a gospel presentation in digital form to a billion people in the next seven years. And they may hear who Jesus is at the end of a film, at the end of a tick tock, whatever it may be, but we want it to be available to them on their phone, in their language. And, Larrie, a billion is a big number. You know, I did the math and that's 360 presentations a day, 365 days a year for seven years to get a billion.
Larrie: [00:25:07] Wow.
Mike: [00:25:08] So that's our prayer. Well, we're starting next year.
Larrie: [00:25:12] We'll certainly be praying for you on that. And Good News Production. And I would like I would like for Carolyn to consider being on the show here, because what she's doing there in Joplin is absolutely amazing. And it parallels with some of our local ministries that we have going here, such as Street Light. I'd love for her to come on the show and explain what what's going on at Life Choices.
Mike: [00:25:36] She'd be happy to do. So. Larrie, you're a dear friend.
Larrie: [00:25:39] Well, Mike, as always, we've enjoyed talking with you today. And for our listeners, we're going to include in our show notes today links to things we've talked about to Good News, Production, Life Choices and some of the other links that will include more information about what's going on digitally and what's going on with unreached people, groups. And so be sure and check that out. Mike, thanks for joining us today.
Mike: [00:26:05] Thank you, Larrie, for having us.