ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–A video segment calling churches to prayer for U.S. troops has achieved unprecedented popularity — with more than 218,000 Internet downloads as of April 21.
The video was developed for the North American Mission Board’s “Essentials for the On Mission Church” series, first made available for download March 17. Titled, “A Call to Prayer,” it is a montage of U.S. military footage designed to help focus prayers for the military. Soldiers are depicted training, helping civilians, participating in prayer and worship, and in other settings — with a dramatic music-only soundtrack.
Doug Keesey, director of electronic media for NAMB, said the availability of the videos was initially announced to state convention partners and churches, with later exposure through referrals on Baptist Press, www.pastors.com and www.sermoncentral.com websites. It also has been used in a wide variety of churches, local church and satellite broadcasts, community prayer gatherings, and at least one local county commission meeting.
But he believes the surge in interest that developed in early April came mostly from e-mail referrals –particularly from Internet domains of military bases and federal government offices in Washington D.C. During one random check, downloads were in progress from the Pentagon, the White House and numerous military installations.
“I don’t know what happened to it, but somehow it just started spreading,” Keesey said. “It’s just kind of gone viral. … There were times when we had 180 people [downloading] at one time.”
For comparison, Keesey noted that a special video produced immediately after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks drew about 1,900 downloads. At the time, he said, even that amount of volume was enough to shut down NAMB’s Internet servers. Fortunately, two weeks before the “Call to Prayer” video was made available, NAMB had outsourced its Internet capacity to allow for such surges in traffic.
Keesey attributes much of the popularity to the simple, unifying message. “So many people know individuals who were deployed, and it just gave them a way both to feel encouraged and to be involved,” he said. “It crossed denominational lines, and gave everybody an opportunity to be united in prayer.”
A similar video segment is being produced for use on either Memorial Day or July 4, Keesey said.
“It will be a tribute to our troops from the war with Iraq as well as veterans of previous wars throughout our history,” he said. “It should be available in early to mid May.”
To view or download the video segments, visit www.namb.net/essentials.