1Cross mobile app offers gospel testimonies in dozens of languages

With 300-plus languages spoken in Texas, SBTC app applies mobile technology and real stories to language barriers in effort to share eternal hope.

God brought it all together that day in the pickup. Nathan Lorick was driving back to Malakoff and wondering how in the world he could do the job if the Lord called him to it and yet flat-out stoked by the bigger-than-Texas-sized challenge of it all.

Twenty-six million people, three hundred-plus languages, urban, suburban, rural, white, black, brown, yellow, and all shades and ethnicities in between. And mostly lost.

Two years earlier on a mission trip to Thailand, Lorick witnessed to a Hindu sikh in that man’s language using a video testimony. Lorick used the same video several times on that trip to share the gospel when communication broke down. That experience and the potential challenge of leading evangelism strategies in what is increasingly a melting-pot culture melded on that drive home to East Texas.

Turns out, the Lord did call. Last year, the 31-year-old Lorick left the pastorate of First Baptist Church of Malakoff to lead the evangelism efforts of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention—a task that calls for a statewide evangelism strategy that seeks to marshal the efforts of 2,400 congregations to share the gospel message from Pecos to Paris.

What God laid on his heart that day debuted on March 5 as the 1Cross app—a free download for mobile devices that allows users to access 3-minute gospel testimonies in video form using native speakers of 40 languages so far, with a goal of every known language spoken in the U.S. being available. By year’s end, Lorick said he hopes to have 100 language testimonies uploaded.

“God has given us a gift in that he is bringing the world to us. It’s a huge missionary opportunity,” Lorick said.

According to the Washington, D.C.-based Migration Institute, 2011 Census data show 34.7 percent of Texas residents age 5 and up speak a language other than English, with about 90 percent of immigrants speaking what missiologists call a “heart language” other than English.

Some estimates say more than 300 distinct languages and dialects are spoken among the 26.5 million Texans, with large metro areas such as Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth having nearly all of those represented. And the people keep coming.

By April 5, there had been about 2,500 downloads with very little promotion. Lorick said he is praying the tool will be used to share the gospel not only in Texas but worldwide as word of it spreads.

Inside the app, if a user chooses a language from a video menu, he will see a professionally videotaped testimony in black and white, three to four minutes long, from native speakers of Spanish, Arabic, Japanese, several dialects of Chinese, Farsi, French, Vietnamese, Burmese, Russian, Hindi and many others. After sharing his personal testimony, each speaker offers a simple prayer of faith and repentance if a user is led to pray along. The converted are encouraged to register their faith stories so that the SBTC may help them connect with the nearest church of their language.

The day after Lorick announced the app at the Empower Evangelism Conference in Irving, a pastor called the SBTC office to tell how a church member who downloaded 1Cross had already led a woman at his workplace to Christ after he shared with her in Spanish. As the woman watched the video testimony in her heart language, tears began to form in her eyes. She had been pondering a relationship with God, the pastor told Lorick. The video was an answer to her yearning.

“Many Christians out there are uncomfortable sharing their faith, but I really believe people generally desire to share their faith. This is a tool whereby anyone can share the gospel with anyone else regardless of background, language or nationality,” Lorick said. “This app gives them the opportunity to have the power of the gospel at their fingertips so that we can see people of many nations come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.”

Several users have left positive reviews at the iTunes store. One person wrote: “Love this app. I use my iPhone to connect and communicate with people all day long in many different ways. This app enables me to use it to communicate the gospel to people in many different languages and connect them with Christ.”

Another said: “I love this app in so many ways. I have a close friend from the Philippines and I now can tell her more about our God. She doesn’t speak English very well. Thank You!!!”

“When you survey the different languages, there is only one cross that can transcend all language barriers with the saving message of Jesus,” said Lorick, alluding to the app’s name.

“Our prayer is that pastors would engage with this technology and mobilize their members with the ability to share the gospel regardless of language and cultural barriers,” Lorick added. “There are people out there all around us who need the hope we have. What’s stopping us from sharing it?”

The app had been downloaded in 14 foreign countries, including three in the Middle East and also the Philippines, Argentina, Australia, South Korea, Spain and France.

The app is available for iPhone devices and for Android. To download, visit 1Cross.com.

TEXAN Correspondent
Jerry Pierce
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