Several years ago, Global Media Outreach founder Walt Wilson spoke at the same conference where photographer Michael Belk was also presenting. As Wilson listened to Belk explain his calling to share a visual depiction of a first century Jesus in a twenty-first century world, he knew he wanted to connect the two missions together. While Belk had said no to every previous inquiry, he agreed to hear what Wilson had in mind, and as a result, the Something Better campaign is under way to share the good news of Jesus through an online ad series.
Randy Valentine, the Chief Marketing Officer of Global Media Outreach, spent fifteen years in for-profit business in Silicon Valley with companies like McAfee and Tevo, arrived at GMO after working in humanitarian aid in foreign countries as well as organizations like Focus on the Family and Every Home For Christ. While he’s rooted in Colorado, his efforts for GMO are based on the way he’s seen the need for the gospel all around the world.
“There’s the same need whether it’s Niger in Northern Africa, Mali, Morocco, the Middle East with heavy Muslim country, or in the United States,” proposes Valentine. “There’s abject poverty in its worst forms, in orphanages, in terrible situations. The need for the gospel is the same; they have a basic need for a relationship with Christ. Relationships that are broken but can be fixed with Jesus Christ. There are a lot of felt needs, but the highest need is Jesus.”
The combination of GMO and Belk’s worth aims to use images of a historical Jesus in a twenty-first century context. Valentine says that the metrics show higher interactions and responses to Something Better than to other campaigns, connected to the way that the images are stirring people’s hearts, causing them to stop, think and ask questions.
GMO has continued to research the key words that people are using when searching online in sites like Google or Facebook, words like “anxiety” or “hopelessness” or phrases like “I feel lonely.” These searches have only increased in 2020, and the ads that GMO has created reference those types of words while showing pictures of Belk’s.
The organization tracks different data points to reach more people. Gospel visits are times when a viewer has seen the ad, clicked on the ad, and ends up on a landing page in a variety of languages around the world. Choosing to pray the prayer provided on the landing page (and self-acknowledging) leads the visitor to a form where they can be connected with an online missionary, who can ultimately direct them to a local church by way of an indicated decision.
Thirty-five hundred online missionaries, all volunteer, answer questions about the Bible and search for the answers to visitors’ questions. A lot of them are older and retired, but Valentine says that they love reaching out and connecting to people, and answering difficult questions.
“Four thousand people a day give us information that leads to discipleship online,” Valentine explains, even as GMO works to overcome the challenge of connecting people with local churches in closed countries and even the U.S. “We’re testing a way to connect believers in India, Azerbijan, and Uzbekistan, and if we can figure out how to make it work we can roll it out to many more countries.”
For Something Better, Valentine is focused on finding ways that the church in the United States can connect digitally with the unchurched and then connect them with the church itself. Right now, he knows not everyone is looking to the digital world to make that happen, and the organization continues to reflect on ways to help churches use ads like theirs to bring people together.
“God is doing something through COVID-19!” Valentine proposes. "Something Better is about saying that there’s something better going on, that we can see all the fear and anxiety now, but that there’s hope for our country.”
“We want to present 150 million Americans with the gospel in the next several months - the only thing that can help is the peace that passes understanding. Our hope is to generate hope in people. Something beyond what you’re experiencing, something, someone, and His name is Jesus. He’s on the throne, He knows what’s going on, He’s not surprised. He wants to be in relationship with you and to let you lay your burdens down. He’s everything.”
Visit SomethingBetter.us for more information or to get involved.