Cyprus Update 2024 – Christian Media Outreach in the Muslim World

Cyprus Update 2024 – Christian Media Outreach in the Muslim World

“The place where the Apostle Paul and Barnabas preached 2,000 years ago is becoming a launching pad for reaching the Middle East and North Africa with the gospel.” – Phil Cooke, Co-Founder, The Influence Lab

Influence Lab partners are making a difference in Muslim countries. Phil and Kathleen Cooke traveled to the island country of Cyprus in April, joining Ron Harris and MediAlliance International to meet with proven media leaders working in the Muslim world in a confidential gathering.

Representing countries like Cyprus, Lebanon, Egypt and Morocco, the invitation-only gathering included leaders from SAT-7, a satellite network focused on the Middle East and North Africa, along with program producers, animators, and Christian educators from other nations – all producing Christian programming and resources for Arab and Persian audiences.

Phil reports, “The discussions were intense and fruitful, potentially paving the way for a new era in Christian media’s outreach to the Muslim world.” (Read Phil’s full report below.)

Thank you, Influence Lab partners!
Your financial gifts and prayers towards the mission of The Influence Lab have far-reaching impact in enabling pastors and Christian communicators to share the gospel in the digital age.

Next up, Kathleen will be in the UK in June and then we’re taking a full team to Ghana this August. Ready to partner with us?  Give your generous gift here. 

Cyprus is becoming a launching pad for reaching the Middle East and North Africa with the gospel.

Here’s Phil’s full report on Cyprus:
The place where the Apostle Paul and Barnabas preached 2,000 years ago is becoming a launching pad for reaching the Middle East and North Africa with the gospel…

Over the years, I’ve been invited to numerous conferences and strategy sessions on a variety of subjects, from world evangelism to Bible translation to media.

In most cases, the result of the effort is a printed “report” of the conversations, ideas, and proposals. And, in most cases, those reports get filed away in a vault somewhere, not that different from the Ark of the Covenant being stored in an unknown government warehouse at the end of the movie Indiana Jones.

Needless to say, I don’t go back to those conferences because my personality defaults toward action. Thinking and talking is fine, but at some point, I want to act.

One reason we launched The Influence Lab a number of years ago is to help the global Church understand that in today’s digital age, we need to re-think the definition of “missions.” The idea of global missions isn’t just about geographical boundaries anymore; it’s also about digital boundaries.

And if we don’t develop an effective strategy for including the media in fulfilling the Great Commission, we’ll fall short.

The discussions were intense and fruitful, potentially paving the way for a new era in Christian media’s outreach to the Muslim world.

That’s why Kathleen and I were thrilled to join Ron Harris and Media Alliance this past week in Cyprus. Ron and his team have been working in this part of the world for years, developing relationships and building trust. We invited proven media leaders working in the Muslim world to a confidential gathering, and the discussions were intense and fruitful, potentially paving the way for a new era in Christian media’s outreach to the Muslim world.

This gathering was a small group of about 17 leaders, and they represented countries like Cyprus, Lebanon, Egypt, and Morocco. They included leaders from SAT-7, a satellite network focused on the Middle East and North Africa, along with program producers, animators, and Christian educators from other nations- all producing Christian programming and resources for Arab and Persian audiences.

As Americans, we can’t travel to many of these countries right now, but they can come out, so we picked the island country of Cyprus because of its strategic location in relation to the Middle East and North Africa.

The first thing you discover is that each country and culture is different, and a strategy for one doesn’t necessarily work for others.

That’s why our goal was to encourage local indigenous leaders to produce programming for audiences they know and understand.

Obviously, much of what we discussed has to stay confidential because of the high-pressure environment where they are working. I was reminded of a similar session we led in Cairo a number of years ago that included two experienced Iranian filmmakers. After the training, they left behind their study notes because they couldn’t take the chance of Iranian customs officials discovering them in their luggage.

But our hope is that the discussions we had this week will lead to future opportunities for sessions that will include training, strategy, and inspiration and grow to include more Christian program producers, filmmakers, social media experts, church media producers, and others.

And I can tell you this: the stories we heard of Muslims whose lives had been transformed after watching or listening to Christian media programming were incredible. Remember that places in the Muslim world where Christian missionaries cannot go are still accessible by media. And it’s worth mentioning that a younger generation of Muslims is growing dissatisfied with the hypocrisy they see in the lives of their religious leaders and are looking elsewhere for purpose and fulfillment.

That’s why this moment is so important.

It’s your prayers, financial support, and encouragement that are making this happen. I’ll keep you updated in future posts as I receive reports of the ideas and strategies being introduced across the Middle East and North Africa.

There is amazing news to come!

Partner with The Influence Lab here. 

This article first appeared on PhilCooke.com here.

An INNER VIEW with Producer Janet Craig

An INNER VIEW with Producer Janet Craig

BIO

Janet Craig is an Arizona-raised actress, writer, producer, and director. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Theatre while playing on the nationally ranked women’s tennis team at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, before moving to LA to pursue her acting career. Now a veteran actress, Janet has performed in a wide variety of roles on network television, film, and in theatre. Janet co-wrote, directed, produced, and acted in the award-winning narrative feature film WAKE UP, a project inspired by her personal experience with foster and trafficked youth. She has directed over a dozen short films, co-founded and created original content for ProReels, and co-written another narrative feature film that is currently in development. A lover of the ocean, mountains, and all things outdoors, Janet is grateful to live in beautiful Los Angeles with her family.

Janet was our recent guest interviewee at the Influence Women Hollywood Chapter Brunch and will be our next featured guest on the Influence Women Podcast. Catch more of her great, inspiring wisdom on the Influence Women YouTube channel.

INNER VIEW

Kathleen: Technology is supposed to make our lives easier and less demanding on our schedules, but in reality, that’s not the case. We just pile more on our plate. How do you navigate and prioritize your schedule?

Janet Craig: When I have more to do than I have time for, I have learned to stop and spend time with the Lord. In those situations, I am realizing more and more that intimacy with God is what I need. Meditating on His Word and praying is where I find His path for each day and the strength through His Spirit in me. I also realize that I must stop, pray, and die once again to my flesh when I start to feel my life spinning.

Making the movie Wake Up was a mountaintop experience for me. I watched as He allowed me to experience His hand on me in more ways than I could have ever imagined. During this time, I leaned into prayer and dependence on Him.

When I first created the story of Wake Up, I would stay up until all hours of the night, feeling energized and inspired. I did not consider myself a writer, but the story just seemed to flow out of me. After the movie was completed, I realized that a lot of the story I wrote was part of my own story. Not that I was trafficked myself, but I grew up experiencing trauma and brokenness from early childhood, and those experiences deeply influenced the story of Wake Up, making the movie autobiographical in many ways. God used my brokenness to teach me and turned all of my pain and suffering into deep dependence and comfort in Him alone.

Kathleen: Where do you turn and do when you need inspiration or encouragement?

Janet: I have been so grateful for faithful friends who inspire and encourage me. I often am inspired by the example of faith in others. I also get encouragement from listening to a great sermon and fellowshipping with other believers of Christ. Many kinds and genres of music inspire me also, but. the Bible is a huge salve to me. I love reading and meditating and memorizing scripture verses found in it. Spending time alone with God – journaling or praying at the beach, in my private prayer closet, outside walking/ hiking, or just sitting and observing the beauty of what God created is the best way I find rejuvenation.

One example that comes to mind is when a sister in Christ shared some tough stuff with me in such a beautiful way. She started by telling me something she admired about one of my children, and then she told me about the hard things she had gone through in her marriage. Her sharing these things first made her safe and trusted before she shared some hard news about the trouble my child was in. It was a lovely way of making me feel loved, encouraged, and safe with her.

Kathleen: What you’ve learned about making mistakes and times of failure?

Janet: I fail so often and believe it is a sweet reminder from the Lord of how much I need Him. When I fall on my face physically or blow it, I realize that nothing is beyond God. He is more than able to do more than we could ever ask or imagine.

When I was a young adult pursuing a professional tennis career, it was all about my own personal glory. I had Bible verses written all over my tennis racket cover, but I actually wanted people to notice me rather than give all the glory to God. I felt that I was a failure if I failed to become the world’s number one ranked player. When I blew out my shoulder in the Australian Open, it was actually God’s grace that brought me to my knees and got my attention back on Him.

Kathleen: Today is about being an “influencer.” What’s the one thing you’ve learned about influence?

Janet: Our whole purpose is to glorify God, and we should use our gifts and talents to do just that. We need to be willing to be open and transparent with our story. When I first started writing Wake Up, I was inspired by hearing a young woman tell her story of being trafficked. I wanted to bring the whole world into that room to hear it because I thought that if everyone heard her story, they would feel like I did and want to do their part to stop trafficking. It was her courageous willingness to tell her story, a story of brokenness, that made it so powerful. As I look back, I realize that God had plans for me to walk in my own story of brokenness that would intersect with hers to create Wake Up.

Courageously sharing our brokenness with others connects us with others who are hurting. When they see joy in the midst of suffering, pain and our dependence on the Lord, it brings God glory. He turns what the enemy meant for evil to good.

Ghana Impact Opportunity

Ghana Impact Opportunity

“In countries where so few people are professing Christians, media may be the key to mission growth in that part of the world.”
– Phil Cooke, Co-founder/The Influence Lab

 

Media training is a key component of The Influence Lab’s vision… And we’ve been invited by an influential ministry in Ghana, to teach a media training intensive in the capital city this August 2024. We’re reaching out to the generous partners and friends of The Influence Lab to help send our team.

The 3-day intensive is geared towards building up the local church while expanding their media production. Our team will impart a big-picture vision plus the knowledge and expertise to share the gospel through media with greater impact.

Media training is a key in many nations towards church growth.

With plans to hold the intensive in a church with production facilities, teaching sessions and hands-on workshop topics include:

  • Creativity in the Digital Age: casting vision for the creative as church media teams, filmmakers, producers and artists.
  • Church Media Production: live streaming, church video and television production
  • Film, Television and Documentary Production: approaching larger media productions with skill
  • Church Communication: conveying the message effectively through various media streams
  • Writing/Screenwriting: elevating writing skills for diverse platforms such as print, online content, film, TV, and new media
  • Acting/Directing: directing the actors and maximizing actor performances for film and television
  • Videography, Sound and Audio: covering the techniques of camera operation church audio, and video editing

 

Phil and Kathleen Cooke will head up the team for the media intensive.

The Team:
We’re sending a small group of seasoned media professionals chosen for their unique areas of expertise. In addition to their award-winning skills, our team brings a passion for their work and for God’s kingdom to equip and inspire.

These are quality people we have worked with on many award winning projects.

Our team is a small group of seasoned media professionals.

 

The Need:
We’ve known the founders of the ministry in Ghana for years and we’re confident that the seeds sown towards this training intensive will bear abundant fruit. The team has volunteered their time. We’re now seeking partners to help sponsor the trip.

To make this trip possible, we’re trusting God for a $25,000 budget to send our team and help us respond to other invitations that have recently come in from other countries. We’re specifically praying for partners who can give $1,000 or more – and of course, whatever level you can give will help make this trip a reality.

Would you prayerfully consider partnering with us today with your generous gift? 

Give your gift here.

THANK YOU for partnering with The Influence Lab! It’s through the generous partnership of friends like you that we can go to places like Ghana to offer strategic media training that opens the door for explosive growth in the digital age.

With a population over 32 million, Ghana is the second-most populous country in West Africa. The capital and largest city is Accra. Strategic media training is crucial in reaching this nation with the gospel.

The Key to Church Growth in Eastern Europe – Spain Update 2024

The Key to Church Growth in Eastern Europe – Spain Update 2024

Spain Update 2024 – Madrid and Valencia

Phil and Kathleen Cooke recently returned from Spain where they had meetings in Madrid and Valencia. With a big “Thank you!” to our Influence Lab partners for your support, here are Phil and Kathleen’s reports:  

 

FIRST STOP: MADRID

Influential ministry and marketplace leaders gathered in Madrid.

Phil: Madrid was all about reconnecting as we gathered with over 300 influential Christian leaders from around the world, including pastors of many of the largest and most effective churches and marketplace leaders of many of the most successful businesses. This is a yearly international gathering that Kathleen and I have spoken at in previous years (although this year we just participated) and represents leaders we’ve worked with from multiple countries including Brazil, the Philippines and Russia.

For those of you who partnered with us in the project, the Russian pastors were the ones who translated and published my book Maximize Your Influence – How to Make Digital Media Work for Your Church, Your Ministry, and You into Russian. They are using it as a textbook for media training seminars for evangelical pastors across Russia. It’s a powerful testimony of what happens when people unite on a project. (Thanks, Influence Lab partners!)

Pastor Paul Mazoni has changed his 15,000-member church’s approach to media and communications from Phil’s teaching.

We also spent a great deal of time with Brazilian pastors and marketplace leaders who brought us to Brazil last year for ten days of teaching andtraining. The gospel is spreading in Brazil, and it’s encouraging to see these pastors and leaders implement the media training from our 2023 sessions into their strategic outreach. Pastor Paulo Mazoni of the 15,000-member Central Church in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, said that he completely changed everything about his church’s approach to communication and media based on my teaching sessions, and the results have been amazing.

Kathleen: It is inspirational and educational to meet as we did with global leaders in Madrid who are doing strategic Kingdom work, many of whom are working in highly volatile war zones.

Phil prayed for the leaders at the opening morning session and began the entire event. At a lunch gathering, I was able to connect with the women and share how Influence Women is growing. These influential ministry and marketplace leaders can appreciate how great the need is for women to connect, collaborate, and support one another so that artistic endeavors might be created.

Phil teaches influential media and ministry leaders from across Eastern Europe gathered at Valencia.

ON TO VALENCIA

Phil: From Madrid, we traveled to Valencia for three days of meetings and teachings. A joint venture of The Influence Lab with MediAlliance International, the invitation-only training sessions brought together Christian media leaders from Europe and Eastern Europe. The attendees were from countries that included France, Spain, Finland, Romania, and Albania, with influential leaders from Christian radio networks, TV stations, and relief organizations working in Ukraine.

Kathleen: In Valencia, I met with several women from Romania and Spain, and one from Ukraine who continues to be challenged with difficult living and working conditions. I encouraged them and shared leadership skills that I have learned to help them.

Kathleen connected with women from around the world including Romania, Ukraine, New Zealand and the UK while in Spain.

They expressed a need and desire to start an Influence Women’s chapter group in their cities, sharing that they often feel alone and unsupported. I gave them copies of my Hope 4 Today – Stay Connected to God in a Distracted Culture to encourage them, and they were thrilled to receive the gift.

Phil: To sum up, our trip to Spain was both fruitful and eye-opening. There is a real opportunity for raising up a generation of Christian media leaders in Europe and Eastern Europe.

In countries where so few people are professing Christians, media may be the key to mission growth in that part of the world. Through the generous partnership of friends like you, we can go to places like Spain to offer strategic media training that opens the door for explosive growth in the digital age.

The world is calling and we are responding! Can you help? Partner with The Influence Lab here.

Next up, we travel to Cyprus, Bali and then Ghana. Be part of the mission with your generous gift here.

An INNER VIEW with DeAnna Kane the NEW Hollywood Chapter Director

An INNER VIEW with DeAnna Kane the NEW Hollywood Chapter Director

BIO

DeAnna Kane earned her master’s degree of Science in Education Leadership from Keiser University and graduated at the top of her class. She began her professional writing career for donor development and fundraising with the Museum of the Bible in 2015 and then moved into managing many of their high-end donor events for the Museum’s grand opening in 2017. DeAnna also produces large women’s conferences as well as helped coordinate logistics for many Influence Women events.

DeAnna combined her talent for writing and event planning to launch KC Media Publishing as CEO with business partner Leslie Callaway. KC Media Publishing currently produces Heart of Hospitality Magazine combined with The Empowered Magazine, which has a presence in 34 countries. She co-authored the etiquette book Just the Basics: Manners Made Easy with Leslie, and they are writing an etiquette curriculum to accompany the book.

In addition to serving on the advisory board of Influence Women, she has accepted the position of director of the Hollywood Chapter of Influence Women. She also serves on the National Board of Mon Ami Ministries as well as serving as the executive director of communications and public relations for Connection Point Church LA. She lives in Los Angeles, California, with her four kids and a plethora of animals, including cats, dogs, and horses.

INNER VIEW

Kathleen Cooke: Influence Women is thrilled to have you as the new Hollywood Chapter Director. What has God been teaching you recently as you prepare to take on this new role?

DeAnna Kane: I think, as women, we have an over-burning desire to be successful in all we do. We strive to be perfect and accomplished and stretch our boundaries always to be doing more. I believe God has equipped us to go above and beyond anything and everything we want to do, but what He didn’t say is we have to do it alone. Of course, God’s Word tells us He will never leave us nor forsake us, but I also believe he brings people into our lives to come beside us and lift us up, support us, and encourage us. He brings people to help us and puts others in our path so that we may help them.

I struggle with asking people for help. I remember at an event, I had a friend ask me if she could help with anything, and when I gave her a task, I actually started to do the task myself as I was explaining. She laughed and said, “Did you actually plan on letting me do that, or did you just want to do it yourself?” We laughed, and I let her take over. It was clear to me that I was so used to doing things on my own that I would have to really work at letting go and delegating better. This is where women need to build their tribe. Find those people you can rely on and trust to help you accomplish all that you want to do and stop looking at other women as competition. Women really get things done, so trust that God wants you to build a tribe to succeed. God never meant us to do life alone.

Kathleen: Whenever someone is asked to do a new job or take on a new leadership role, women often think about what might happen if they fail. What have you learned about making mistakes and not letting past failures stop your forward movement?

DeAnna: One year, I was throwing a birthday party for my business partner, Leslie, and I was holding the birthday cake. I zigged, and the cake zagged. It fell to the ground with the loudest thump ever possible. I stood there looking at the cake, and the first thing that crossed my mind was, “How can I fix this without everyone knowing what I just did?” Then I heard the collective, “Noooooo…, come from behind me.” For some reason, it just struck me so funny that I burst out laughing. Of course, there was nothing I could do to keep anyone from seeing it, and when the absurd thought struck me to cover it up, it was so outlandish that laughter bubbled up, and I couldn’t stop.  (more…)