TV Show Converts People to Christianity

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CBNNews.com -- This past summer, a reality TV show highlighted the Christian faith by challenging participants to live a biblical lifestyle.

The experience took participants to unknown territory.

Laura, a lesbian, William, a convert to Islam, Martin, the atheist biker and Kevin, the womanizer were all unlikely candidates for one of Britain's most unusual reality shows: Make Me a Christian.

Would the seven participants actually be convinced to become Christians in three short episodes?

Most British Christians expected the usual negative portrayal when Channel 4 aired the series last summer. Christian producer and Regent University professor Andrew Quicke had dealt with the network in the past.

"They start with the position that nobody believes, and then we examine, as if under a microscope, strange people who actually have belief," Quicke said. "That's not true of every program but it's the predominant attitude of Channel 4 producers."

Making religion the subject of a reality show pushed the boundaries in Channel 4 competition with the state-supported BBC.

"You need have no religious experience to make religious television programs," Quicke said. "And when I was trying to get programs on Channel 4 in the religious area, the managing editor told me that he was an enthusiastic agnostic and expected any programming offered to reflect that viewpoint. So as a card-carrying Christian I never ever got anything accepted."

In this reality series, four church leaders including charismatic Pastors George Hargreaves and Wale Babatumbe, exposed participants to Christian churches, values, and the Bible. Mentors were allowed to make changes in participants' lives.

Faye gave up her books on spells and witchcraft.

"Light cannot have fellowship with dark," Faye said in one episode.

Kevin agreed to give up his usual nightclub visits on a Thursday night.

All the mentors agreed that abortion is wrong. That led to a vigorous discussion and a visit to an abortion clinic where the group was shocked by a video on how abortions are performed.

The experience of living as a Christian was quite new to most of the cast. Their distance from Britain's Christian heritage reminded pastor Babatunde of his arrival from Africa.

"I was expecting a nation that is a Christian nation by law," Babatunde. "And what did I find? A nation that is a society of atheists according to our former Archbishop of Canterbury. I was totally shocked."

Yet during the course of the reality show, some of the group developed a clear interest in Christianity.

For the charismatic pastors who became mentors for s the opportunity went beyond the participants themselves.

There is a chink in the armor now of the media, maybe we can engage with them," Hargreaves said. "Maybe we can get some good gospel television across on mainstream television in the UK."

People on the street now recognize these pastors from the reality show.

"I'm so excited and I'm very grateful that God would give me the privilege and the opportunity to share Christ on Britain's national TV," Babatunde said.

Hargreaves said "I think Jesus would have been on Channel 4. He went to places where he could be heard by lots of people. How do you speak and feed five thousand unless you go to a strategic point where the masses can come. We as Christians have got to do likewise."

Last November the series won the "Best Christian TV documentary" award at a ceremony sponsored by Britain's Christian Broadcasting Council.

"And I've got to tell you we've kept in contact with those who've participated," Hargreaves said. "And they are on a real journey that I want to believe will end in their salvation, by God's grace."

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Stan Jeter

Christian World News

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