OPPELO, Ark. – Leaders at First Baptist Church in Oppelo are using technology to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The church’s Gospel Video Project is currently sharing the Gospel message with as many as 2,000 people per day. This is accomplished by showing 30-second or one-minute testimonies through streaming services.
The idea was developed about eight years ago by church member Bill Jordan. As a business owner, one of the ways he advertised his business was through OTT, which stands for “over-the-top” and refers to technology that delivers streamed content over the internet.
“He thought, why couldn’t we do this for the Lord and put salvation testimonies or Gospel message videos out there that way,” Pastor Brad Underwood said.
Jordan spoke with some other local pastors, found a video guy, videoed testimonies and started sharing them. The testimonials have been shown locally as well as in Michigan, California, Nevada, New York and many other locations.
“Last month, in June, we spent $6,000 and had about 192,000 folks received a testimony,” Jordan said, noting Fairfield Bay Baptist Church and Houston Baptist Church have contributed to the Gospel Video Project in the past.
Jordan said church attendance across the nation has been on the decline for some time. The Gospel must be brought to the people. An easy way to do that, he said, is through social media or OTT media service.
“You can do it anywhere in the country. We can do a one-minute testimonial on OTT for 8 cents, and it will go directly into the house. It’s cheaper than any missions program. You can do a lot for a dollar,” Jordan said. More than 95 percent of the testimonies sent are both viewed and heard.
Additionally, Underwood said this is a great way to help promote church plants.
First Baptist Church in Oppelo, a church with membership of around 200, supports a church plant in Brookline, Massachusetts, by sending an excess of 10,000 testimonies per month to the Brookline area.
Aside from specific locations, Jordan said they can also target specific age groups and peoples.
“The options are basically endless to what you can do with it,” he said.
Each of their videos refer people to their website, john1512.com, which links to their YouTube channel as well as offers viewers a list of Southern Baptist churches.
“Our job is to sow the seeds. Our job is to share the Gospel,” Jordan said. “What we hope is that people who hear the Gospel want to learn more, will contact us or go to a local church.”
Jordan and Underwood encouraged other churches to look into starting their own Gospel Video Project ministry.
“We are a small church. We reached 192,000 people last month with $6,000 with a lot of Gospel testimonials. It can be done, and it can be done in a big way if you can get more churches doing it,” Jordan said.
Food Pantry & Clothing Closet
Another ministry First Baptist Church in Oppelo offers is its Food Pantry & Clothing Closet. On the first Monday after the second Wednesday of each month the church provides an opportunity for those who need it to pick up food and clothes.
The food pantry was started in January of 2011. At that time, they served 20 patrons. Now, more than a decade later, they provide food for more than 200.
Prior to COVID, patrons would enter the children’s building, listen to a short devotional, and get their food. Presently, they do a drive-thru.
“It really streamlined the whole process,” Underwood said, adding there is also a place for prayer if patrons want to pray. “We have people who pray with them. It is just incredible.”
Debbie Stone, who leads the food pantry, said there is no requirement to pick up food, which comes from the Arkansas Food Bank, other than to be Conway or Perry County residents.
“That’s the only thing. We don’t care how much money you make or what your needs are, we’re just here to serve,” Stone said.
From picking up the food to packaging and helping disperse it, Underwood said numerous people in the church get involved with the ministry.
“It’s really neat to see some of the relationships the workers have made with those who come through,” Underwood said.
For the clothing closet, people can park and pick out clothes for no charge as well. The ministry is open 8 a.m. to noon the first Monday after the second Wednesday each month.
For more information about First Baptist Church in Oppelo and its ministries, visit fbcoppelo.com.