Ministering the “Techie” Way
It’s nontraditional—but effective.
By Carolyn Sutton and Cindy WaterhouseWheeler
Anyone monitoring the pulse of technology-related ministry opportunities these days can’t help noticing some very unconventional doors being flung wide open. And in some very far-flung places—even cyberspace!
Light Stream International, a lay-run ministry based in Oregon, United States, is taking advantage of cutting-edge technology to reach people in numerous world regions with the gospel message. Examples of the organization’s diverse outreach methods include:
♦ Christian-oriented cable television programming for thousands of subsistence-level families in India recently given televisions by their government.
♦ Cyberspace messages of hope and healing for young adults searching the Internet for meaning and purpose in life.
♦ A “secular” evangelistic tool that connects, for the Chinese mind, prophetic Messianic concepts in ancient Oriental writings with fulfilled prophecies of the Christian Bible.
♦ The gospel message framed in culturally-relevant, contemporary media including film, art, and music to meet spiritual needs in places such as Singapore, Bolivia, Australia, Africa, the Philippines, and Europe.
A strong conviction that Christ’s followers must meet people where they are—with truth—led founders Win Wheeler, Cindy Waterhouse-Wheeler, and D. Lynn Bryson, pastor of the McMinnville, Oregon, Seventh-day Adventist Church, to establish Light Stream International in 2007.
Win began sharing God through multimedia while in college. After returning from serving as a student missionary, he presented the needs of Africa in pictures and sound to churches throughout the United States. Upon graduating from Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, Tennessee, Win worked with Fortune 500 companies designing automated business systems while volunteering in his church as audio/video engineer. Believing that God has called him to a unique ministry, Win now functions as ministry technologies director for the McMinnville church, executive director of Light Stream International, and systems and sound engineer for the North Pacific Union Conference’s (NPUC) Project Momentum.
Cindy, who earned a business degree from the University of Oregon, has managed nonprofit organizations and taught college-level classes. A musician and composer, she writes music for worship and broadcast. Currently, she edits audio/video content, trains editing volunteers, writes for the ministry, and assists with coordinating schedules.
Bryson, a pastor in the Oregon Conference since 1985 and a survivor of a near-fatal airplane accident, holds a deep conviction that communicating the Advent message via television is essential to living the commission that Christ gave the church.
“We must carry our message beyond our church walls and into the homes of the people,” Bryson says. “Most people will never walk into our church buildings, but many will eagerly watch and listen on the airwaves.”
With the help of more than 50 McMinnville church volunteers and numerous affiliates and partners, Win, Cindy, and Bryson have developed a high-definition recording studio that has given birth to this innovative system of evangelism. This system allows Light Stream to keep expanding as new technologies and market-demographic needs evolve.
The Light Stream Approach
So how does the Light Stream “approach” work? Light Stream directors trust the Holy Spirit to “introduce” them to technology-related global outreach opportunities. Then the organization’s team develops projects to reach hearts and introduce Christ in culturally-relevant ways, using the most appropriate technological approach.
Light Stream International projects include:
♦ Project Momentum—a biannual collaboration between the NPUC and Light Stream International, which creates an evangelistic series for broadcast on the Hope Channel, Better Life Television, and other community- and Christian-based broadcasting stations.
Former Project Momentum efforts have included programs such as “Snapshots of the Savior” with Pastor Ron Halverson, Sr., the “For God So Loved” series with former NPUC president Jere Patzer, and “Revelation Now” with Jac and ’dena Colón. Distribution of the series’ DVDs has resulted in baptisms thousands of miles from the original evangelistic meeting locations.
♦ Change of Heart—a short film targeting the secular Western audience. It presents the Christian concepts of forgiveness and reconciliation using cinematography, dialogue, and music to unfold the story of a father asking his son’s forgiveness for their past hurtful relationship before the father found healing through Christ’s concepts of love and mercy.
In-Progress Global Projects
♦ Light Streaming India: Light Stream is currently developing a Christian television studio for the largely unreached millions of the Tamil province of India.
♦ Light Streaming Singapore: Working with church-planting efforts in this part of the world, Light Stream is focused on building content for distribution there and beyond, by sharing discussions of God’s truth in video format as well as video storytelling of true stories that reveal the Creator God as the “God of all gods.”
♦ Light Streaming China: Light Stream is planning a documentary that will demonstrate biblically accurate, prophetic Messianic concepts in the writings of Confucius and other historical Chinese sages.
♦ Light Streaming to young, around-the-globe YouTube aficionados: Light Stream collaborates with students from Adventist and other Christian-based universities to create short YouTube messages of hope, healing, and truth about the reality of a loving God. The target audience is the millions of young adults who are searching for life’s meaning and purpose.
♦ Light Streaming South America: McMinnville Television Ministries, a brand and affiliation of Light Stream International, is now forwarding Sabbath sermons to be broadcast via satellite to some countries in the Americas, the Caribbean, the Philippines, Europe, Africa, India, and Australia.
Into All the World
Light Stream International’s mission is to step forward, beaming the light of God’s love and truth to diverse regions of the world. In creative ways and by God’s grace, it is doing its part to help fulfill the gospel commission: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations…. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:19, 20, KJV).
For more information, contact Light Stream International, P.O. Box 1171, McMinnville, OR 97128, USA; or go to its Web site: www.lightstreaminternational.com.
Carolyn Sutton, a freelance writer and a volunteer field representative for Adventist World Radio, is a retired educator and a former editor of Guide magazine.
Cindy Waterhouse-Wheeler, Light Stream International codirector, brings her directing, editing, music, and writing skills to this ministry.