Sex, drug addiction, suicidal thoughts, alcoholism, loneliness, peer pressure and social angst – it’s all part of an onslaught of hopelessness many teens experience today, but one group is using an in-your-face approach to deliver a critical message to America’s young adults:
God loves you and He wants to help.
It’s a revelation of hope in a venue young viewers might least expect – an outreach campaign called Groundwire splashed on television networks such as MTV, VH1, Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim programming and Comedy Central and flanking popular radio broadcasts across the nation.
Young adults see or hear Groundwire’s 60-second Christ-centered spots and contact the ministry’s coaches for help every day.
“Really the reason we’re doing this is because I really believe that heaven and hell are real-life issues and that people can have the opportunity to go to heaven,” Sean Dunn, founder and president of Groundwire, told WND. “Even beyond that, I am convinced that there’s a God in heaven who loves every person on the face of the earth and wants to be a part of their life.”
The following are just two examples of numerous ads Groundwire uses in its outreach:
Dunn, an author and 42-year-old husband and father of four in Castle Rock, Colo., has ministered to youth for more than 20 years. He founded Groundwire eight years ago.
“I’m absolutely convinced the reason God put me on the earth is to share hope with young people who are struggling,” he said. “There’s a huge diversity of issues: from the cutter, the suicidal person, the addict, to those callers who say, ‘Something’s missing. Something just doesn’t make sense in my life. I don’t know what it is.’ to just people who say they need someone to talk to.”
And the outreach is working.
Dunn said Groundwire is averaging about 4,100 Internet chatters a month. Through its most recent media buy in Atlanta, the campaign just topped 28 million impressions a week. The ministry has added 14 million viewers and listeners every month since April 2010 and currently has nearly 5,000 Facebook fans.
“We have coaches in Korea, Australia and India to handle the middle of the night,” he said. “It’s the only 24-hour-a-day spiritual help line in the world. We see people come to faith on a daily basis.”
“One of the amazing things about these initiatives is how cost-effective it is,” he said. “It is ridiculously inexpensive to make an impact. For example, on one of our nationwide buys through a major TV cable company, it costs us only a $1.37 for every 1,000 television sets that are turned on when our commercials air. Because of that, people can understand how their gift can make an impact.”
Despite its success, Groundwire has received some criticism.
“There are a lot of people who are angry that we’re talking about the Bible and about Jesus on the secular outlets,” Dunn said. “We have a few people who will attack us and go off about us. Atheist groups have said that if you’re atheist, your job should be to shut Groundwire down. However, we also see a good number of people really finding some life-saving truth in what we do.”
He gave examples of how his outreach has helped people who were on the brink of suicide as well as other troubled young adults.
“We’ve helped people who have said, ‘I was within seconds of taking my life, and I heard your commercial,’” he explained. “Another young woman who was a stripper in New York City, at 3 a.m. she saw a commercial on MTV and it spoke to her. She got out of bed and said, ‘I’m trapped. I don’t know what to do. I’m hopeless. I’m stuck on drugs.’”
Groundwire counselors prayed with her and offered the help she needed to leave that lifestyle and return home to live with her parents. But Dunn gives all the credit for those successes to God
“He’s the one who can bring them hope,” he said. “He’s the one who can bring them peace.”