61 || Groundwire: Sean Dunn
After starting in ministry at the age of 18, Sean Dunn, founder of Groundwire.net, was a youth and college pastor blessed with many opportunities to speak to young people. In a moment of complete authenticity, Sean admits to pride in his heart of his success with ministering to young people. Certainly, he had pleased the Lord… Only then did God start to move him in a different direction with a whisper to his heart asking him to compare the numbers. While he was able to speak to 150,000 kids (mainly Christian teenagers) per year, there are over thirty-three million teenagers in the United States alone who he was not able to reach.
In the face of the overwhelming disparity between the numbers of kids he spoke with compared to the number who needed to hear the good news of Jesus, his pride abandoned him and his heart broke – what more could he do?
The question surfaced, “how do we reach those who are unreachable?” By unreachable, he meant those who are unchurched – the ones who haven’t grown up in church or who don’t feel accepted in Christian culture.
Determining a way to reach the unreachable was the difficult part. The average kid will most likely not unplug his or her life simply to respond to a call to attend a conference or to hear the word of Christ. While Sean was brainstorming options of communicating with these kids, the Lord guided his thoughts to mainstream media TV, radio, podcasts, internet, and multiple social media outlets that consume this generation. This presented a unique opportunity; Sean decided to capitalize on it. His plan? Interrupt their lives, their TV, their radio stations, and their social networks with the good news of Jesus in hopes of extending God’s love to them so as to plant seeds of hope in their lives.
At the age of 14, Sean found himself sliding down a dangerous path of “good Christian sinner.” He grew up in a Christian home and knew all about Christ, but found little need for a relationship with Him. In fact, after being caught up in webs of deceit, his parents offered him a challenge: “If you want to change your heart, then read the Bible every day for three months.”
His rebellious heart desired to not only take up the dare, but to increase the odds. “I’ll read it twice a day for three months, but when it doesn’t work, I am done.” Sean was certain that he would find the Bible to be irrelevant, difficult to understand, and boring; however, he could not resist a dare. After the three month challenge, Sean took an honest look at himself and realized that he was indeed a changed boy. It wasn’t magic and it wasn’t an overnight process, but he had grown to know Jesus in a personal way, and it began to impact his life.
Over time, Sean watched kids around him struggle. Depression, cutting, suicide, sexual promiscuity, insecurity, and even just common teenager angst ran rampant within and outside the church. Insecure and longing for acceptance, many worked to present a polished mask to the world in an effort to appear composed, when in reality, they were really hurting inside and had no idea who to turn to for help.
Where can the hurting turn for solace? Where can people begin to see their lives change? Because of his experience of a transforming relationship with Christ, He knew that the answer is, and will always be, Jesus. Sean knew he had to interrupt the noise of the world – the noise telling kids they’re not good enough or they’re unlovable – with the news that Jesus loves them and there is transformation in a relationship with Him!
In Their Face — Literally
Sean’s answer to the problem: get in their faces. Present the love of God. Interrupt their lives and spark their curiosity. How? He knew it would take a team. Thus, Groundwire was born.
Groundwire uses aggressive ad campaigns targeted towards young adults that meet them where they are: radio stations, mainstream TV, and cable networks. They insert snippets of hope into otherwise worldly messages that bombard youth. Groundwire directs young adults to their website, and that’s where the work begins. They invest their time and energy in these people through the help of volunteers who offer one-on-one coaching in order to touch people’s lives and lead them to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.
Groundwire also realizes that being a newborn Christian is challenging. For the young and vulnerable Christians, there has to be a mentor willing to help them water the seeds that have just been planted. They are committed to not only initiating relationships with these young people, but also to connecting those with the resources that they need to continue to grow in Jesus. They work to guide individuals to a supportive church family that will help provide the counseling or medical resources that they might need.
Groundwire averages over 233,000 visitors on their website a month. In 2012, they hosted 38,000 conversations via chat.
More than the numbers are the stories. Two of which are especially powerful for Sean. There’s the woman in New York City who had fallen into a life of drugs after she moved there to be with her boyfriend. He had gotten her hooked, making her dependent on him and the drugs, and then he left her. Unable to support the habit that her body so desperately craved, she resorted to stripping in order to pay for her addiction. Alone in her apartment one night, desperate for something, she saw a commercial for Groundwire and made the phone call. That night, through the volunteer coaching, she gave her life to Christ. They connected her with a church family and helped her get the medical attention and counseling that she needed to stop drugs. Today she is blessed and thriving in her new life.
Then there’s Britney’s story. She called in for help after hearing a commercial interrupt her radio station. She didn’t intend to seek help, but something prompted her to make that call. After sharing her background with Marie, a staff member acting as a coach, she learned about God and how He had a plan for her life and a purpose for her story. Marie led Britney to Christ that night and thirteen months later, Groundwire received a video testimony. That day thirteen months ago was potentially Britney’s last day on earth. She had planned her suicide and was on the verge of executing it in her car when she heard that commercial come on. After calling, her life had changed. God had heard her prayer and transformed her life and her heart. She now knows that she is a child of God and that He loves her very much.
Get Involved With Groundwire
This sounds awesome, right? It is! And you can be a part of it through coaching or through financial donations. All of it is needed and welcomed. Our young generation is desperately searching for hope, meaning, purpose, and acceptance. We should be meeting them where they are. Join Groundwire in this revolutionary movement and impact a generation for Christ one person and one relationship at a time.