‘I’ve been brought up in a Christian family. Recently I’ve started asking myself questions which I can’t find an answer to, and have been feeling more agnostic. I’d like to thank you very much for your videos. They helped me a lot’.
These are the words of a young man who had watched some videos explaining and defending the Christian message produced by Focus, an evangelical mission agency that started producing radio programmes nearly 40 years ago, and has more recently moved into creating web sites and podcasts.
For the past six years, Focus has been producing short videos that are published online, explaining and defending the Christian message. These videos are intended to speak to unbelievers about the evidence for the Christian message, and to equip believers to be able to answer contemporary challenges.
As our society moves further from its Christian foundations, people are becoming less familiar with the Bible’s story. It is becoming more important to be able to ‘give a reason for the hope that we have’, to be able to explain not only what we believe, but why we believe it. Without this, we lay ourselves open to the charge that our faith is ‘believing without any evidence’, or even ‘believing what you know isn’t true’.
Why are the videos published online? In New Testament times, the apostles went into the market places and meeting places of their world — the places where people naturally exchanged news and ideas. Where do people do this today? Increasingly, it is online: more than a billion people use Facebook. The number of people using the Internet to watch video is growing fast. Across Africa, Asia and the Middle East, people may never own a computer, but they are watching videos on their smartphones.
This is a day of tremendous opportunity. Focus’s vision is that millions of people all over the world will watch its videos and be drawn nearer to Christ through them. Already, more than a quarter of a million have watched them on Focus’s own YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/godnewevidence), and other ministries have used them on their web sites, such as the UCCF Bethinking.org site.
Many of the videos have also been translated into other languages, including Chinese (both Mandarin and Cantonese), Russian, Spanish and French. The Russian translations have been broadcast multiple times on the largest religious satellite television network in the world, with a potential reach of more than 300 million people.
Around the world, Focus’s videos are touching lives, and making a difference. One viewer said, ‘I volunteer as a street pastor in our local town. You would be amazed what you’re asked at 3 o’clock on a Saturday morning and how often these encounters occur. I find the videos on ‘God New Evidence’ are really helpful’.
Each series includes interviews with experts, who can speak with authority in their specialised area — from the evidence for the resurrection to the historical reliability of the Gospels.
‘The Biggest Question’
Focus is currently working on a new series called ‘The Biggest Question: why does God allow suffering?’ This features a rather different kind of ‘expert’.
The interviewees are all people who have been through some kind of major suffering in their lives: a senior police officer whose counter-terrorist officer son was killed on duty during a police raid; a convert from a Muslim background who was imprisoned for her faith; a pastor struggling with same-sex attraction; a vicar who was paralysed as a teenager in a rugby accident; a disabled writer and speaker who, when she was born, was given less than three weeks to live; a pastor who has suffered chronic illness for nearly 20 years, through 30 surgeries and more than 100 hospital admissions; a lady dying of cancer.
Because this question has pastoral as well as apologetic implications, Focus expects ‘The Biggest Question’ to have a wide appeal to Christians as well as non-Christians, and they are developing a home group study guide to go with the videos.
To watch the videos, to find out more, and to get involved in praying for the ministry of Focus, visit www.focus.org.uk, YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/GodNewEvidence, or Facebook page www.facebook.com/GodNewEvidence. Or write to Focus at 54 The Avenue, Southampton SO17 1XQ.