Folk media and modern communication technology are increasingly used by Asian Christians to assist evangelism in a creative way as many people thirst for information at this era.
The February issue of the Lausanne World Pulse features "Media Evangelism," investigating how countries across the world apply technologies for delivering gospel messages to people of a wider range. A Hong Kong expert Dr. Wing Tai Leung, youth ministry coordinator of Chinese Coordination Center for World Evangelization (CCCOWE), gave a detailed account for the methods South East Asian and Hong Kong people have applied in evangelism.
South Asia has very special cultural background; many special national cultures bring out tremendous effect for evangelism as they are closer to the lives of people compared to the gospel that no one has ever heard.
In Thailand, Chiang Mai University students create Thai Dance Presentations of the Prodigal Daughter, which is adapted from the biblical prodigal son parable of Jesus. In Indonesia, Christian artists present shadow plays to communicate the gospel, according to Leung. Traditional Cantonese operas in Hong Kong are used by some Christian churches to reach out to the older adults. They modify traditional lyrics and story lines for evangelistic purposes.
"Folk media is very effective with rural Asians or those who have strong cultural ties," Leung commented.
On the other hand, modern communication technologies are even more widely used for evangelism in Hong Kong. A number of huge Christian media and cultural groups have been established and developed into international ministries that serve Chinese Christians worldwide, Leung reported.
As social problems such as gambling and drug addiction are very serious in Hong Kong, the groups produce TV programs or movies that feature people recovering from these problems through accepting the Christian faith. A company called Shower of Blessings, which documents life stories of people who face crises and are converted to Christianity, has received huge responses from North American Chinese communities as well.
Breakthrough, a Christian group targeting young people, is trying to extend the reach as far as possible by using multimedia. They have launched radio, television, film, book, magazine and web ministries.
Generation 21, one of the Breakthrough’s television series, features the passions and aspirations of youths in Asian cities. The gospel offers values to youths who are undergoing cultural transitions in post-colonial Asian cities, Leung said.
As many magazines in Hong Kong are filled of unhealthy contents and messages, such as pornography and violence, Breakthrough launched three magazines consecutively to provide an alternative to counteract the fallen trend. These magazines- Breakthrough Magazine and Breakthrough Junior Magazine (both suspended now) and U+ Magazine- targeted to non-Christian youth and focused on life issues and Christian values for social concern.
Tien Dao Communication, another Christian media group, uses the newspaper to feature successful Christians who have a high profile in society, according to Leung. Fame and social status are very big temptations to modern people, therefore through these prominent Christian professional's personal conviction in Christ, people may realize that the true greatness and glory come from God but not from man.
Leung reminded that evangelism goes beyond transmission of information, but it is actually "relationship building, giving voice to the voiceless, dialoguing with seekers and dealing with social concerns."
Even though media is not "a vehicle for direct evangelism," Leung commented, but it is best used for "setting agendas, offering parable stories for reflection, offering communication with seekers and giving a voice to the poor."