Born in a Christian home in Egypt, Dr. Michael Youssef shares that he at first rejected the gospel but in his late teens embraced Christ. Unknown to him at the time, that decision would take him to Lebanon, Australia and finally to the United States. Training pastors and teaching through the Haggai Institute, he was living in Atlanta when God laid on his heart the need to start a new church. In 1987, the Church of the Apostles was launched, meeting first in a hotel, then in a school until finally being established in its own building where thousands attend in multiple services each Sunday.
But the outreach was only shortly restrained by walls. Starting with 60 second radio spots on a local radio station, it soon evolved into a 30 minute program. This was the start of one of the most robust media ministries in the evangelical world. The radio program was picked up by TransWorld Radio, with Dr. Youssef’s messages eventually being simultaneously translated in 26 different languages. Leading the Way (LTW) was the first to use simultaneous translation for ministry on television. Later, LTW started its own television outreach called Kingdom Sat that shares programming through networks such as Fox News, Hallmark and others in the USA and to comparable networks in other countries. Content is also available through an app.
Being raised in the Middle East has given Dr. Youssef a unique perspective on the culture there with a resulting burden to reach those in the Muslim world. LTW is not only casting their eyes on the Middle East but endeavoring to reach the growing Muslim in North America which now exceeds eight million.
All of this has led to a seven part strategy that has been dubbed Vision 2025. Launched in 2018, LTW hopes to record one million decisions for Christ. The challenge of this is admittedly difficult because although one million may indeed receive Christ as Savior, the tally depends upon self-reporting by contacting the ministry and letting them know. A spokesperson for the ministry said, “We know documenting this will be difficult, but we also know that for every one who does contact us, there are likely several more who have made decisions but have not. This is the Holy Spirit’s work and we trust Him for the harvest.” To accomplish this lofty goal, the following strategies are in place:
- Double the media footprint: By seeking to use secular media outlets in addition to established Christian ones, LTW hopes to reach those not now being touched by the gospel. Part of the strategy includes a national television campaign called, “Finding True Peace” with 30 and 60 second spots telling people how they might find peace with God and pointing them to the ministry’s website (http://ltw.org).
- Reaching Muslims in North America: Seeing the Muslim immigrant population as largely untouched, LTW is partnering with local churches to reach them with specific content through Kingdom Sat and its radio broadcasts. Having learned many lessons from its outreach in the Middle East, LTW feels uniquely positioned to accomplish this. Already there is work to this end in New Jersey/New York, Dearborn Heights, Michigan and Northern Virginia. Plans are being made for outreach in the Dallas area next.
- Expand Discipleship Network in the Muslim World: Again, Kingdom Sat and radio are the primary vehicles to bring this about. Already reaching the Middle East, LTW has established Muslim outreach in France, other parts of Europe, Pakistan and Iran. Realizing the persecution that may be faced by those who convert to Christianity, LTW has field representatives in place to provide discipleship and link with churches who may have to provide far more for the converts than teaching, as converted Muslims frequently face being forced out of their homes and disowned by their families.
- Double Audience of the Kingdom Sat: Now twelve years old, this outreach has reached a level of excellence that this past year earned it the “Network of the Year” award from the National Religious Broadcasters. It already can be accessed by 195 million homes worldwide on six continents. Content is primarily biblical preaching, teaching and other programming that helps people grow in their faith.
- Host Strategic Evangelistic Events: With the restraints of COVID, for a time this was sidelined but now major events for this year include one in Massachusetts and Sydney, Australia. Further scheduling is being arranged for 2022.
- Distribute 100,000 Additional Navigators: The “Navigator” is a solar powered handheld electronic device that is downloaded with the Bible and up to 100 sermons with translation of Dr. Youssef’s messages. Acknowledging that many parts of the world are still not reached by television or radio broadcasts or have electricity for that matter, the Navigator devices fill the gap for evangelism and discipleship in remote areas. Already 130,000 Navigators have been distributed but this will bring the number close to a quarter of a million.
- Target a New Generation: Youssef’s son, Jonathan, hosts a radio program called “Candid Conversations” which is geared for Millennials and Generation Z to answer tough questions about the Christian faith and how it interacts with the world. The growing trends toward materialism and atheism make this a vital aspect of ministry.
We thank God for ministries such as Leading the Way who, like The Salvation Army, seek to reach especially those who are untouched by the gospel. May God bless and prosper their work in growing the Kingdom of God.