OneHope recently reached its billionth child with the story of Christ. Yes, you read that right—that's billionth with a b. And yet that milestone is only one-fourth of its goal to see 4.2 billion children and youth reached with the gospel—a jaw-dropping target the ministry set a few years ago in its Vision 2030 statement.
Plans for the coming year demonstrate OneHope's ambitious outreach. Working in nearly 100 countries, its 2014 agenda includes the recent launch of its Spanish-language version of Incredible Islands, a children's digital ministry tool that combines games, real-life application, educational content and Scripture.
Among other digital developments is OneHope's free Bible App for Kids, which debuted last Thanksgiving and saw 1 million copies downloaded in its first week. Last year, OneHope partnered with the U.S.-based nonprofit My Broken Palace to offer an app designed for at-risk youth.
For an organization that began with the creation and distribution of print resources, its willingness to adapt to 21st-century realities offers a model for ministries everywhere.
"There's some sort of digital component we're going to have in place by next year with 30 percent of all our programs around the world," says President Rob Hoskins. "We're constantly trying to measure [bandwidth] so we're not moving too far ahead of the market but we're not falling behind either."
Hoskins credits the origins of such forward-looking strategies to his father, Bob, who founded the ministry in 1987. But it all began in the 1960s, while the Hoskins family was based in Lebanon and the elder Hoskins tried to stage traditional crusades to reach Muslims.
"That's where we, as a family, got into literature evangelism," Rob Hoskins says. "We designed correspondence courses that we now call pre-evangelism. Through newspaper ads, my father enrolled more than 450,000 young people in 22 Arabic-speaking countries."
Not surprisingly, then, when Rob approached his father a decade ago to explain OneHope's need to reach illiterate young people through film, the ministry's founder nodded amen. Unveiled in 2005, The GodMan film is now available in 10 different versions, contextualized for various regions. OneHope has screened the movie for nearly 73 million youth in more than 60 countries.
"Innovation is a combination of hearing the Holy Spirit and being willing to do things that aren't presently being done," Rob Hoskins says.
The reallocation of resources to visual mediums isn't the only change OneHope has made. In recent years, it dropped its long-time Assemblies of God affiliation to become nondenominational, hoping to connect with Christians from more diverse backgrounds. OneHope now works with more than 21,000 churches and ministries—partnerships Hoskins sees as integral to spreading the gospel.
The ministry has placed an even stronger emphasis on this component in the past nine years, after discovering the ineffectiveness of its outreach in Swaziland. Hoskins recalls God showing him that the ministry's generous distribution of materials in that African nation had made little societal impact. Flourishing promiscuity there had yielded the world's highest HIV/AIDS rate.
The Lord has revealed that OneHope needed to do two things to bring about societal transformation: improve field research and collaborate with others.
Besides innovation, Hoskins believes OneHope's other core strength is its unswerving mission to provide God's Word to children across the world. Although its flagship Book of Hope now appears in 142 languages, he says it couldn't stay wedded to a single Bible storybook.
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