The following is my from my newsletter which is sent out via snail mail to our ministry project supporter every so often. The rest is self-explanatory! – JCR
Dear Friend of The Forerunner International,
Greetings in the victorious name of Jesus Christ, the King of all nations!
As you might know, the name “The Forerunner” comes from the ancient church’s title for John the Baptist. I have always thought of The Forerunner as a ministry that has both a prophetic and evangelistic calling. Like John, we are to be a “bright and shining light” that will go into the whole world “in the spirit and power of Elijah” to preach the Gospel.
When I first started in media ministry in 1987, I published a little newsletter that went out to about 100 people in our church and elsewhere. I used to dream about the day when publications and videos I produced would be used of God to reach millions of people around the world. I had many encouraging words from pastors and church members about my calling. Of course, this was before desktop computers, the world-wide-web and non-linear video editing platforms were available to me.
Reflecting on the providential events that have occurred since that time, I spent a few hours recently reading newsletters from the 1990s that reported on my short-term missionary trips to Russia, Ukraine and Tatarstan. I was struck and encouraged by the impact we had on young people in this huge region of the world where the Gospel was virtually unknown at the time.
I wrote in the summer of 1995:
When I arrived in Nizhny Novgorod, a city several hundred miles east of Moscow on the Volga River, I was surprised to find that Predvestnik is well-known in the churches. I was immediately invited to preach in three churches on the basis of what I had accomplished with Predvestnik. One pastor, named Vladislav, told me that it was his favorite Christian publication. When I was introduced his church, I saw through a show of hands that many people had read Predvestnik.
Further away from the big cities, such as Moscow, people are more open to the gospel and Christians are more open to receiving and distributing literature. It’s not as though we have become famous, but Predvestnik is having a great impact in cities where we distribute more than a few hundred copies. We receive testimonies from remote areas telling us that the newspaper is received “like a great treasure” and that it is passed from hand to hand. We have made a small explosion in the former USSR with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
While many ministries are doing similar work, what makes The Forerunner unique is that we have always sought to teach Christians to use biblical principles to transform society while retaining an evangelistic focus. We have always tried to hit topics that are vital yet neglected by the church in our post-modern age. I’ve been encouraged to see that the most popular articles on our website are those that I feel most strongly about, and I yet wondered at the time of their writing if people had “ears to hear.”
I thank God that these articles and videos are now being translated into the languages of nations where such Christian media is rare. The most encouraging aspect is that I did not have to recruit most of the translators, but several helpers have contacted me to volunteer their service or ask permission to use our materials. I believe that eventually The Forerunner will not even depend on me to continue, but will be run by freelancers all over the world who will take on designated assignments as part of their ministry. I believe it is God’s plan to raise up young people from strategic areas of the world who will work together to promote the vision and purpose of The Forerunner.
A Brief History of The Forerunner
The Forerunner was originally a newspaper founded in 1981 four years prior to my conversion to Christ. It was published and distributed through Maranatha Campus Ministries. The vision for the publication was campus evangelism, but it became more focused on the ideal of the Reformation and teaching young people and Christian leaders to have a total biblical worldview. I became a Christian in 1985 and soon started to pursue my dream of publishing Christian media. I began working as an associate with editor Lee Grady in 1989. Then I worked directly with Bob and Rose Weiner to continue the publication until January 1994.
Around that time, I moved to Melbourne, Florida and founded Media House International, a non-profit Christian foundation with the purpose of publishing foreign language edition newspapers and newsletters: Predvestnik, The Mandate, The Champion, El Campeón, and so on. In the 1990s, I spent much of my time raising necessary support for Predvestnik and similar projects. Our main project was the Russian language newspaper.
1999 to Present
In 1999 and 2000, we concentrated on publishing books and producing several videos in the Russian language, one of which, Hollywood, won “best documentary” at the Christian Broadcasters Awards in Moscow in 2000.
In 2001, I was married for the first time (“to one wife”) and my life changed drastically. For seven years, I have been working full-time as an English teacher. I like this pace of this life in that teaching pays the bills without any worries or surprises. As a teacher, I have 180 non-work days each year in which to be involved in missionary projects. Recently, I have concentrated on video production ministry, finishing an apologetics DVD called The Real Jesus. In 2007, I also took a three-week trip to Ukraine to attend a Christian teachers’ conference.
One of the reasons why I haven’t written as much recently is that video projects are now funding themselves through sales and I have little need for extra personal support. However, if you want to help with the plan to expand The Forerunner’s missionary projects you can purchase DVDs from our website or you can give a tax-deductible donation. That is the purpose of this prospectus.
Prospectus: The Forerunner in 2008 and 2009
Here I want to outline what I’d like to accomplish in the next two years.
Last year, our income came from three main sources.
1. Generous donations from people like you who supported my three-week trip to Ukraine in the summer of 2007.
2. Sales of DVDs through our website — especially several titles I produced with Eric Holmberg, The Real Jesus, God’s Law and Society, The Beast of Revelation: Identified, and a book I co-authored called, Four Keys to the Millennium.
3. The Google Adsense program at on our website and YouTube channel.
Although it’s not a huge amount of money, this is residual income that is consistent from month-to-month made from publications and videos I’ve produced over the years. The website now has over 2000 articles and the plan is to make continual improvements that will facilitate changes and growth.
Widening Our Scope through Internet Media and New Technologies
In the one of the editions of The Forerunner in 1992, I wrote an article called “The Fiber-Optics Revolution” that described the coming popularity of the world-wide-web. At the time, I thought that we would soon get 100 percent of our media through the Internet. This would come to pass in what I predicted would be “five to ten years.” We have finally started to turn the corner of this “revolution.” Streaming video sites such as YouTube have only taken off in the past two years and there is a new wireless technology looming on the horizon that will replace high-speed cable modems.
The coupling of high-speed wireless with new video technologies will have its greatest impact for the Gospel in third world countries, many of which are vital mission fields. An important factor in the fulfillment of the Great Commission is that it will be possible for us to develop face-to-face relationships with foreign nationals while training them to be evangelists in their own culture.
While several people have volunteered to help us out of their own burden to do the work of the Lord, I’ve also discovered that many media projects I have envisioned can be “outsourced” over the Internet to students in foreign countries. I’ve already employed a few people who are happy to do work for just a few dollars an hour. For a ministry that depends on a small budget to finance this work, the appearance of many “freelancing” websites employing third world workers is a providential answer to prayer.
As an example, I was recently faced with the daunting task of converting the entire Forerunner.com site to a content management system (CMS). The Forerunner site was first constructed in 1996 and I have since put up about 2000 articles in an antiquated format. I saw that the CMS conversion could be accomplished with just a little knowledge of website formatting. However, I estimated that it would have taken me at least 50 hours of work. I wasn’t too excited about the spending a few hours a week here and there until it was finished.
In the meantime, conversion to CMS was a must in order to streamline and modernize what had become an unwieldy website. The older format was holding us back from making needed changes to the site. After praying for an answer, I found one of the many “freelancing” sites run by Asian workers who bid on these types of projects. In a short time, the CMS conversion was finished. This method of outsourcing tasks has a virtually unlimited application and I am excited about some of the possibilities.
*Video *– The advance of video production technology in the last 10 years ago is nothing short of astounding. For a fraction of what it cost just a few years ago, we are able to produce professional quality DVD productions. From 1998 to 2000, I worked on several video projects with Eric Holmberg and Reel to Real Ministries. I also took two trips to Russia to work with Loza (The “Vine” Church) to help found one of the first Christian video ministries in that country. Reel to Real is now known as The Apologetics Group (TAG) and the ministry’s influence is greater than ever before. I recently became a board member of TAG and I am acting as a script writer, video editor and producer. We recently completed the DVD, The Real Jesus, with Eric as host and narrator. We now have several more productions in the works.
I have been pleased at the response to the apologetics, pro-life and teaching videos I’ve posted on Forerunner.com, YouTube, Facebook and elsewhere. I’ve received many comments from people we have been impacted. In fact, I wanted to share one comment I received recently:
You guys are awesome. These YouTube videos helped change my mind from pro-choice to pro-life … I like to keep a pretty low online profile. But I really enjoy your videos. Your videos … are what did it for me, as well as watching the March for Life on TV. I will be walking in next year’s March for Life in San Francisco.
From: “Ajax,” a viewer who asked to remain anonymous
*Foreign Language Internet Projects *– The Internet has opened up a much wider audience than ever before possible through print publications. Forerunner articles that would long ago have been discarded now have daily readers in almost all countries of the world. At one time, I hoped to print foreign language editions in many countries. We were able to see this with Russian, Spanish and Chinese versions, as well as a few issues in Indonesia, Brazil and South Africa. At present I am beginning to outsource the translation work of our most highly read articles, the ones that have proven to have the highest impact.
The Pakistani Forerunner – Urdu is the most widely spoken language among Muslims with 270 million speakers. It is the national language of Pakistan as well as among people in Bahrain, India, Oman, United Arab Emirates and even in Guyana. Although Urdu is widely spoken there are very few Urdu language sites on the Internet. Our first project is Why Creeds and Confessions? Foundations in Biblical Orthodoxy, a book that has already appeared in the English and Russian languages. We are working with an Urdu woman from Pakistan, Nosheet Gloria, who has a burden to translate the best articles from The Forerunner.
The Turkish Forerunner — Yuce Kabakci is a young minister from Turkey – a nation of 70 million people with only about 3500 church-going Christians. He is in fact, the only the third pastor from Turkey who has received seminary training. He has also translated a number of Reformed classics as well as some recent works into Turkish. We are working together to build a Turkish language section of The Forerunner website. This will become significant in the coming years since Christian literature in this “gateway” nation to the Muslim world is rare.
*Russian Forerunner *– The goal is to get the remaining articles from 20 issues of Predvestnik, the Russian language Forerunner, on-line. There is some work to do in converting the Cyrillic text of our earlier issues to universal fonts. We also have two book translations that will soon appear on the Russian section of our site. Then I hope to constantly post fresh content on this site by working with a Russian editor and translator who will share our vision. The number of people with Internet access in the 15 nations where Russian is spoken is growing daily. This exciting prospect means that we can reach more people than ever before for relatively little money.
Brazilian Forerunner – A young man from Brazil, Felipe Neto, contacted me to ask permission to translate several of my articles into Portuguese. We will use these articles at the Forerunner.com site and work to get more articles into Portuguese. Many people are surprised to learn that Portuguese ranks as the eighth most spoken language in the world, and the third among western nations (behind English and Spanish) with close to 200 million native speakers. It is the national language of seven countries in four continents around the world including Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, and São Tomé and Príncipe islands. Although there are different spoken dialects, proper Portuguese as a written language is identical in all these countries.
Spanish Forerunner – A few years ago we published a single edition newspaper called, El Campeón that was distributed in Peru, Costa Rica, even Cuba. A Baptist ministry from Chile has also published some of my articles in Spanish. They produce a beautiful magazine called La Verdad (Word of Truth). I was greatly encouraged to see some of my content in their Spanish magazine. We want to translate hundreds of articles and find a Spanish freelancer who will work to build a Spanish section of The Forerunner.
Chinese Forerunner – The Mandate was a newspaper that we helped publish in English for Chinese international students studying in the United States in five editions. There were also two Chinese editions. Now we want to translate all of the articles from The Mandate into Chinese.
_America, Return to God _was a 128-page magazine/book edited by Thomas Wang (who is known as the “Chinese Billy Graham”). The publishers asked permission to reprint five articles from The Forerunner. I was blessed to see our ministry featured alongside ministers I look up to such as D. James Kennedy, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, and Gary DeMar. This book was distributed to 400,000 people in an English language edition in the United States. Now their plan is to publish the magazine in China and Christians will be encouraged to pray for revival in America! Of course, we’d like to include this material at our website.
Increased Cooperation with Ministry Partners
While using an “outsourcing strategy” to cost-effectively jumpstart several projects, I also hope to find many like-minded Christians in foreign countries who share our vision to preach the Gospel worldwide through the media. I believe that there are many Christian students and young pastors around the world who just need encouragement and networking opportunities.
Instead just one “Forerunner” ministry, there will be many.
Our focus is now to encourage the development of the following strategies:
• Cooperating foreign language websites who are translating our materials
• Foreign language Internet articles and videos hosted at www.Forerunner.com
• Dubbing of our DVDs into several foreign languages
• Training foreign nationals to produce videos relevant to their own culture
I believe it is God’s will for us to advance the kingdom of God by cooperating with like-minded Christians and ministries. I hope that you will prayerfully consider supporting the following opportunities. God has opened a door for us that is already resulting in greater fruitfulness and effectiveness than ever before.
Yours for Christ’s victorious kingdom,