Phil and Kathleen Cooke spent eleven days in India this September, teaching and training Christian media professionals from across the nation. The trip was timely and the training well-received. Here’s an update on the trip, with special thanks to our generous Influence Lab partners who helped make it possible.
Phil reports: Around the world, digital missions and the strategic use of media are more critical than ever before! This was our seventh trip to India where we have long-standing relationships with pastors, church media professionals, and independent filmmakers, who are creating remarkable media projects for sharing the gospel in a country that is only 2.4% Christian. Through multiple meetings, we were able to equip them with practical strategies and inspire them in their efforts.
Also, alongside Ron Harris (MedaAlliance International), we were featured speakers at a media conference held at Madras Christian College—recognized as one of Asia’s oldest educational institutions. While there, we explored the university’s Innovation Center where students study video production, graphic design, art, and computer technology. It’s a great testament to their desire to learn and grow in the skills that will enable them to share the gospel effectively in today’s digital culture.
Media professionals and church leaders gathered for the training.
We also spoke to media and drama students at The Women’s Christian College, a campus with 4,000 students in Chennai. Our overall goal throughout the trip and with every interaction was to encourage this generation of filmmakers, television producers, social media creators, and church communication professionals, helping them access digital strategies for greater success in their endeavors.
Kathleen reports: It’s a long way to India from the U.S., and at times my human body gets weary, but I’m energized when I see how God is building His global Kingdom.
Many Christian organizations face challenges daily as they share the gospel, yet their joy and enthusiasm to learn and grow in media skills never wavers. Seeing their faith in action reminds me of the power of God to overcome and bring miraculous provision, protection, and joy.
I was re-energized when I received this WhatsApp message from one of the female participants:
“Thank you for coming to India… I’m very grateful that you were willing to come halfway around the world and bless us with your experience, observations, and wisdom. Your words were impactful, and the Lord has certainly used them to speak to me. I know it spoke to others as well.”
The colorful heritage of India brings a rich element to all forms of media and art.
Thank you for supporting The Influence Lab and Influence Women and allowing us to bring words of relief and God’s creative infusion to his “boots on the ground” in India. We are the Church, and united we stand.
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:40)
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When the pandemic began in March 2020, one of the nations it struck hardest was Italy. Phil and I were booked to speak in Milan that year, but with the country on lockdown, our trip was cancelled. We were pleased to finally reschedule for late October this year and experience first-hand that God is alive and well in His Church in Italy.
Under the leadership of Pastor Roselem Boerner Faccio, Sabaoth Church is thriving in Milan. The city is known as one of the top global fashion and design cities in the world and Sabaoth’s congregation is infused with an abundance of creativity. They have tapped into the Source of all creativity, our Creator God, and the church has been blessed to an overflowing community of talented artists.
Phil and I were honored to speak to these artists, designers and leaders (mostly 20-40 year-olds) who are passionate to personally know God more fully and tell others of His love and redemptive life. This thriving young church understands that to reach this next generation it must include the use of effective media.
Phil spoke to their Bible training school, Hanger28, and then both he and I spoke at multiple sessions of Sabaoth’s annual gathering called Conference One. While the 1000 seat auditorium was still under governmental restrictive use, 300 people were able to attend in person with over 1500 viewing online.
Phil spoke on leadership and the practical use of media, messaging and branding, as well as on how to effectively connect with people in the digital age. I brought insights on understanding and communicating to multi-generations: the boomers, millennials and iGens who now use media 24/7. If we want to reach the culture with the love and gospel of Jesus we must understand what they see and hear and have a firm grasp on what will resonate with their thinking.
It was then off to Istanbul, Turkey for five days as we toured the city’s rich historical and religious sites. While there, we connected with a group working with business leaders and students and shared at their gathering. We gave them tips on the best use of digital media while letting the light and love of God shine forth when asked questions. It was an interesting social climate as those working in this underground grass roots ministry constantly reminded us that the group was being watched and listened to and that their class could be shut down at any moment.
For Phil and I, it was a good reminder of how blessed we are to live in a country that still allows for freedom of faith and thought, while people in other nations live in fear. One of the only ways to reach out to those seeking the truth of God in these religiously restrained countries is through media. It’s why training and encouraging those working in these restricted countries is so vital.
Traveling globally with the ongoing pandemic was a challenge. Yet, the joy of sharing and teaching on the frontlines in other countries was joyous and rewarding. The need to teach and train leaders with the effective use of media continues to be great and never ending as we are constantly asked, “When can you come?”
Phil and I and the entire Influence Lab team are always blessed when we hear from you and are encouraged by your prayers and support for us. We are so very grateful. Our pray for you this New Year, 2022, is that God will bring you joy and continue to bless your coming and going as we all seek to see Jesus lifted high and His Kingdom flourish. -Kathleen Cooke
Your partnership makes a difference! Consider a year-end gift to The Influence Lab and help us continue to meet the need for training leaders to use digital media effectively to share the gospel. The gospel message never changes, but in this digital age, how we share it does. Give here.
Special offer! As a thank you for your generous partnership of $25.00 or more to The Influence Lab, you’ll have your choice of these books by Phil and Kathleen Cooke: Maximize Your Influence: How to Make Digital Media Work for Your Church, Your Ministry, and You Hope 4 Today: Stay Connected to God in a Distracted Culture (New paperback edition!) Unique: The Ultimate Planner for Creative Professionals Give your gift today!