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LifeWay & ‘Left Behind’ boost evangelism with end-times aids

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–LifeWay Christian Resources is partnering with the creators of the popular “Left Behind” series to help individuals and churches use the apocalyptic thrillers as tools to share the Gospel.

The evangelistic strategy, called “Share Eternity with Someone Today,” is available to download for free at LifeWay.com.

The website-based campaign, which runs through December, is aimed at equipping readers of the Left Behind fiction series, based on the prophecies of the Book of Revelation, to use the novels as discussion starters for sharing their faith in Christ.

The Share Eternity with Someone Today campaign at LifeWay.com features “A Discussion-Starter Guide” complete with more than 30 ideas for using books, CDs and cassette tapes from the Left Behind series designed to spark a conversation about God’s gift of eternal life.

Some suggested ideas for using the books to start conversations about eternity include providing copies of the Left Behind series to friends and family; hosting a reading group in one’s home; or simply reading the books in public places.

The website link also provides a “Tip of the Week” for starting discussions about eternity. For example one “Tip of the Week” suggests asking someone how they think the world is going to end. Then after the person responds, describe how the Left Behind series depicts the biblical account of the End Times.

With more than 58 million books sold since the series’ debut in 1995, the “Left Behind” novels, co-written by Southern Baptist Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, have set all-time sales records for Christian fiction.

Since 2000, five of the series’ novels have topped The New York Times best-seller List in consecutive releases. The Left Behind series title, “Desecration,” claimed the number one best-selling hardcover fiction novel for 2001, unseating legendary author John Grisham, who had held that honor since 1994.

A July 1, 2002, Time magazine cover story chronicling the Left Behind phenomenon proved further that fictionalized accounts of the rapture and tribulation had captured national attention.

LaHaye and Jenkins estimate that they have personally heard from more than 3,000 readers who have made professions of faith in Christ or recommitted themselves to their faith in Christ after reading these end-times thrillers.

Such was the impetus for the book, “These Will Not Be Left Behind — True Stories of Changed Lives,” released in July by Tyndale House Publishers, which has published 11 novels in the Left Behind series to date. The 12th book in the series is due out in spring 2004.

These Will Not Be Left Behind is a collection of 30 true stories, compiled by Norman Rohrer, about readers whose lives or those of their family or friends were transformed eternally after reading part of the Left Behind series.

Among the stories included in the book are two with Southern Baptist connections.

One chapter features an account of how well-known Southern Baptist pastor Ike Reighard had the opportunity to lead seven couples who had been reading the Left Behind series in a simultaneous prayer to receive Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord.

Reighard, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference, describes the Left Behind series as “the air force of Christian evangelistic strategy.”

“It softens up the ground by dropping bombs of truth, thus allowing foot soldiers to share their faith with willing hearts already open to the Gospel,” said Reighard, who now serves as chief people officer for HomeBanc Mortgage Corp., a loan company with nearly 1,000 employees and $5 billion in loans throughout the southeastern United States.

“The Left Behind books are wonderful ice-breakers,” Reighard states in the book. “It used to be if I were traveling on a plane and I said I was a pastor, the person inquiring about my occupation would look around for another seat. Now, many lean close and say something like, ‘You know I’ve been wondering about these [Left Behind] books. … Tell me about all this Armageddon stuff.'”

Another chapter in These Will Not Be Left Behind describes how Southern Baptist Shane Acree began reading Left Behind while housed in drug rehab center in Louisville, Ky. His stepmother had given him the book to read while he worked to overcome his addiction to heroin.

When Acree was discharged from the drug rehab program, one of the first things he did was make his public profession of faith in Christ at Beulah Land Baptist Church near Louisville.

Acree said reading Left Behind alongside the Bible has given him his purpose in life.

“Instead of being a pilot or famous newspaper reporter like in Left Behind, I’m a fast-food employee who has the same responsibility as the Tribulation Force to spread God’s Word,” Acree states in the book. “That’s my mission and I’ll continue until the day Jesus comes to take me home.”
For more information about the Left Behind series, visit www.leftbehind.com.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: EVANGELISTIC PARTNERSHIP.

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