By Allen Palmeri
JEFFERSON CITY—Building on their successful Rock the River Tour from the summer of 2009, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) has launched a multi-faceted Christian Web resource named Ransom.
Music videos and testimonies from Christian artists, athletes and other personalities are being combined with social networking pages and channels in an attempt to engage youth and young adults.
The site www.Ransom.tv became a priority as Billy Graham officials thought about the vast spiritual hopelessness they encountered across America during Rock the River, which included a stop in St. Louis.
“We wanted to have a place online where young people could engage us and learn more about or be introduced to Jesus Christ,” said Tim Smith, director of BGEA’s television and event production department. “Just like the Rock the River Tour, we’re using awesome musicians, but also well known athletes and other celebrities, to share their stories, in some cases their music, and demonstrate what Jesus means to them. We have also designed this to be a living, organic site – meaning that new content is added all the time, so that visitors have a reason to come back.
“Our vision is also that we would see people come to Christ. We’re not pushy about it, but we do present the truth of Christ and give people a way to respond.”
Rock the River taught the BGEA that music is very important in the lives of young adults. The tour was meant to be a place where unbelievers could meet Christ, which is also the goal of Ransom.
“Not all of the bands at the Rock the River Tour perform their music exclusively for Christian audiences or in Christian venues, yet all shared our passion to see kids come to Christ,” Smith said. “One of the most popular bands of the whole tour, in fact, was Flyleaf, which has a huge following among mainstream audiences and was immensely popular in each city. We have replicated this concept with Ransom, featuring bands that have a heart to present Christ, but also have a following among those who don’t know Him.”
Ransom.tv aims to communicate with the youth of America through such means as www.facebook.com/WeAreRansom, www.youtube.com/user/RansomTeeVee, and http://twitter.com/WeAreRansom. The ministry derives its name from Jesus’ words in Mark 10:45: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” It was launched Dec. 6.
“Text messaging, Facebook, Twitter … these things were unheard of 10 years ago, and now they are a big part of the everyday lives of most of them,” Smith said. “So we have made every effort to employ those tools to get young people’s attention and draw them to the website and ultimately into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.
“The Web has been around for awhile, of course, but we want to make sure the content on Ransom expresses a desire to engage young people with topics that matter most to them. So many young people are searching for purpose and meaning, and our goal is to help them see that those things can only be found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Ransom is an ongoing effort, and we believe that truthful and dynamically presented content that is relevant to the lives of young people is the best way to reach them.”
Besides St. Louis, another Missouri venue where the BGEA tested this new model of outreach to younger Americans was Fort Leonard Wood, where “Rock the Fort” took place last Oct. 4.
The BGEA is headquartered in Charlotte, N.C.