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Advertising saturating Atlanta with message of hope in Christ
--By James Dotson
ATLANTA, June 12--The names are familiar across Atlanta and, in some cases, the nation: Keith Lockhart of the Atlanta Braves; Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy and his son, Dan; Christian recording artist Babbie Mason; former gymnast Mary Lou Retton; and architect J.T. Williams.
     They're from all walks of life, but the one thing they have in common is a testimony to the hope found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. And it is those testimonies that are featured in a series of television commercials being broadcast in Atlanta during the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting.
     The television spots are combined with a different series of radio, print and billboard ads that together make up the media component of the five-month Arms Around Atlanta evangelism and church-starting effort.
     "Arms Around Atlanta is a joint effort of the North American Mission Board, Georgia Baptist Convention and local metro Baptist associations to effectively impact Atlanta not only with the words of the Scripture but with actions of the gospel," said J. Robert White, executive director of the Georgia Baptist Convention.
     "The media portion of the effort alerts the city to this massive outreach, and it is our prayer that God will use this part of the effort to prepare metro Atlanta to receive the message and ministry of Arms Around Atlanta."
     The print and broadcast campaign began June 4 and will end June 18, while 60 billboards around the metro area were placed in early May for a three-month run. Space on the billboards -- which feature the millennial message "Who Split Time?" -- was donated by the Eller Outdoor Advertising Co. of Chicago.
     Each of the ads invites individuals to call the toll-free (800) JESUS2000 number for a free video of the movie "Jesus." As of June 13, more than 5,500 requests for the video had been received, and five individuals had accepted Christ in talking with the telephone workers.
The automated telephone number allows callers to leave information for mail delivery of the video. But it also gives the opportunity of having the call forwarded to a "telephone encourager" working at home through the North American Mission Board Response Center system.
     This is the second year an intensive media campaign has accompanied Southern Baptist efforts to make an impact in their convention host city. The first and more extensive campaign took place in the 1998 convention city, Salt Lake City. That effort resulted in more than 7,500 responses, including 38 professions of faith.

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