Coronavirus Searches Lead Millions to Hear About Jesus

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Tens of thousands have clicked to pray for salvation since the outbreak. Is the increase temporary or a harbinger of greater gospel witness online?

Millions of worried people who have turned to Google with their anxiety over COVID-19 have ended up connecting with Christian evangelists in their search results—leading to a spike in online conversions in March.

In the Philippines, a woman named Grace found herself on a website about coronavirus fear hosted by the internet evangelism organization Global Media Outreach (GMO). “Please help me not to worry about everything,” she wrote in a chat with a volunteer counselor. “What’s happening now is very confusing.” The counselor explained that only Jesus can bring lasting peace, and Grace received Jesus as her Savior.

Back in the US, a volunteer at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) chatted online with a young mother named Brittany who worried that COVID-19 would take her life and her children’s lives. The volunteer offered hope and peace, and Brittany too accepted Christ.

Three of the largest online evangelism ministries—GMO, BGEA, and Cru—account cumulatively for at least 200 million gospel presentations on the internet each year. All three say the number of people seeking online information about knowing Jesus has increased since the COVID-19 outbreak was declared a pandemic in early March.

Between mid-March and late March, GMO saw a 170 percent increase in clicks on search engine ads about finding hope. Clicks on ads about fear increased 57 percent, and about worry 39 percent. The ministry’s 12.4 million gospel presentations in March represented a 16 percent increase over the average month in 2019.

This recent surge corresponds with a broader finding by a University of Copenhagen professor: Internet searches related to prayer in 75 countries skyrocketed …

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