January 28, 2003
Jesus sign project takes flight
ST. LOUIS – There is power in the name of Jesus.
Displayed on giant billboards, the name is having a powerful impact on Missouri drivers.
"It is the only name given to men whereby we can be saved," said Bryan Brand, who started the billboard project. "I believe if we boldly publish that name where people cannot miss it, the Spirit of God can use that to touch people."
Since the Jesus Name Project began in St. Louis more than three years ago, there have been testimonies of marriages saved, a woman receiving forgiveness for abortion, a discouraged pastor gaining a renewed passion for ministry, plus many others – all through the power of one name.
The ministry is now entering a second phase with yard signs and television commercials. Leaders expect great things to happen in 2003.
"It can very easily go all over the nation pretty quickly," said Jim Breeden, church development director for St. Louis Metro Baptist Association. Breeden’s former church was the first to sponsor a billboard in the city.
Brand explained that the ministry grew out of a study of Acts he and his wife hosted in their home. Through the study, Brand said they noticed that people always responded very strongly to the name of Jesus, either favorably or in opposition. As the vision for the billboard ministry developed, Brand said God gave him the mission statement, "To boldly publish the name of Jesus with dignity and simplicity."
The billboards carry the single word "Jesus" with no additional words, phone numbers or attribution.
"I had very precise instructions from the Lord that anything we added to the name would diminish the ministry," Brand said.
The simple signs with white letters on a green background deliberately mimic familiar interstate signage.
"People are geared to look toward those signs for direction," Brand said.
The first billboard went up in St. Louis in November 1999. The signs are rotated and at any one time, there are about a dozen appearing in the state. Most are in St. Louis, but the coverage area extends north to south from Troy to Cape Girardeau and as far west at St. James.
A yard sign initiative now underway, however, could take the name of Jesus into every neighborhood.
Breeden gave out 250 of the small signs at the annual meeting of the Missouri Baptist Convention in October. He believes God can use the signs to bring revival to the state.
"Each person can bring Jesus to their neighborhood and have a springboard to share so easily," he said. "It opens an opportunity to share the Gospel with your neighbors."
Already the billboards and yard signs have had an impact on the city, Breeden said, noting that teenagers and senior citizens especially seem to embrace the mission.
"It gives a common focus for all churches to give us a positive ministry to present Jesus to St. Louis," he said.
In order to spread the word about the signs, the Jesus Name Project is developing a Jesus Name Sunday program, which has already been held in some Missouri Baptist churches. The celebration includes music, testimonies and sermons, all centered on the name of Jesus. The ministry has also developed a video that can be shown. At the end of the service, church members are given yard signs to put the power of Jesus’ name to work on their block.
"When people see that sign, it strikes a chord in their life," Breeden said.
This year, 10- or 15-second spots featuring only the name Jesus – no sound, no music – may begin airing on area television stations. Brand, who still works as an investment advisor, is looking for someone to head up the St. Louis effort so he can take Jesus billboards to other cities.
Churches and individuals are needed to sponsor billboards, which cost from $250 to $1,500 a month. Yard signs can be purchased in quantities of 50 for $3 each, plus shipping.
For more information, call the Jesus Name Project at (636) 519-1044 or visit online www.jesusnameproject.org.