Billboard Ministry Reaches the Lost

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Calvary Chapel South Los Angeles Uses Highway Side Billboards to Reach the Lost

Story by Trinity Grau
Photos courtesy of CC SOLA unless otherwise indicated

In one of the darkest areas of Southern California, Calvary Chapel South Los Angeles (CC SOLA) is making a difference by reaching out to those who have no interest in church. Through something as simple as a highway side billboard, the congregation is welcoming the lost with open arms and praying for their entry into the Lamb’s Book of Life.

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”
Mark 16:15

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David Trujillo (pictured) is senior pastor of Calvary Chapel South Los Angeles (CC SOLA). In 2021, church leadership noticed that a large billboard near the church advertised alcohol, cigarettes, and party lifestyles. Why not advertise Jesus? they wondered. After investigating the costs involved, CC SOLA rented the sign to advertise an evangelistic outreach on Halloween.

“It all started out when we began to pay attention to one of the billboards near the church. It grieved us to see alcohol, cigarettes, and party lifestyles advertised day in and day out,” explained David Trujillo, senior pastor of the church. The church leadership decided that it was important to put in the time to discover if the billboard was available for rent. After a little bit of searching, they learned the price. However, “We put it on the backburner,” David admitted. “We weren’t quite sure what God was going to do with it.”

In October 2021, the church decided to use the billboard to advertise their annual Halloween event called “Glimpse of Hell.” David described the event as the best alternative to bring in the lost and to tell people about salvation. Thus, the first billboard went up to advertise CC SOLA’s “Glimpse of Hell.” The result was a turnout in the thousands.

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CC SOLA rented this billboard in October 2021 to advertise “Glimpse of Hell,” an evangelistic outreach during the Halloween season. The interactive haunted house-style maze emphasized the terrible weight of sin and was born out of a desire to redeem Halloween, a season centered around terror, and to teach people about the realities and dangers of hell. The billboard helped to draw thousands to the event.

The "Glimpse of Hell" event is an interactive haunted house-style maze in which the audience is repeatedly told about the terrible weight of sin. Though it is advertised as a simple “Halloween” event, David explained that it was born out of a desire to redeem Halloween and to use the advantage of a season centered around terror to teach people about the reality and dangers of hell.

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Church volunteers stand outside the venue for “Glimpse of Hell.” CC SOLA, on the border of South-Central Los Angeles, is basically “gang territory,” according to Pastor David. “It’s amazing to see how the billboard, ‘Glimpse of Hell,’ worked—everything really scares these gangsters who otherwise might seem tough and fearless.”

 

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A scene from the “Glimpse of Hell” maze features a Roman soldier against the backdrop of the crucifixion of Jesus.

 

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Despite the darker nature of the Halloween maze, the goal is to point people to the light of salvation. David and his team remain convinced that telling people the truth about how their choices affect their afterlife is one of the greatest evangelism efforts they can undertake.

After October, the billboard remained available for almost three months before SOLA was billed again and asked whether they wanted to keep making use of the space. The elders prayed for a long time, during which the rental price dropped by half. Pastor David knew that God was making a way and agreed to pay to put up a new billboard advertising the church’s location and a call to salvation.

“For so the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.’” Acts 13:47

The billboard has been rented twice since SOLA’s Halloween event and both times was left longer than any of church staff had expected, allowing them to gather the money for the next rental charge. Though a seemingly small effort, the billboard managed to reach many people driving by. “We had 12 people alone on one Sunday come by. Our greeters at the door were able to receive the news that it was the billboard that had brought them to the church!” David shared.

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After the “Glimpse of Hell” event, CC SOLA rented the billboard to share the Gospel message. The sign has been effective in drawing curious visitors to the inner-city church, where some have been saved. Pastor David recalled speaking with one couple who hadn’t been looking for a church but felt the Lord tugging on their hearts after seeing the billboard.

One of the best effects has been the ability to pray and follow up with those who have come to a saving knowledge of Christ—simply through a chance look at the sign. He recalled speaking with one couple who hadn’t been looking for a church but felt the Lord tugging on their hearts. It is especially remarkable to see the effect that the billboard has had, given its location, David added.

                  

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"Where the church is at, we're on the border of South-Central L.A. and Watts," emphasized Pastor David. "It's amazing to see how the billboard worked by drawing gangsters. People who seemed tough and fearless were shaken by the truth of judgement." Despite the darker nature of the Halloween maze, the goal is to point to the light of salvation. David and his team remain convinced that telling people the truth about how their choices affect their afterlife is one of the greatest evangelism efforts they can undertake.

Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us; we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:20

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David noted about the maze: “It feels real. People come out and see Jesus at the end of the maze and realize just how much pain and suffering He went through for us, and they see just what He spared us from. I’ve seen people crying as they realize just how real all of these things around them are.”

David noted, “It feels real. People come out and see Jesus at the end of the maze and realize just how much pain and suffering He went through for us, and they see just what He spared us from. I’ve seen people crying as they realize just how real all of these things around them are.”

Pastor David’s hope is that more churches would see their efforts and take note of who they are targeting. It is the lost whom they want to reach first, the lost whose attention they hope to gain so that they might be turned towards the light and come to know Jesus Christ as Redeemer.

                  

Learn more about Calvary Chapel South Los Angeles (CC SOLA) at:
Website: ccsola.org • Facebook: @go2sola • Instagram: go2sola

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Pastor David was a key speaker at the Urban Ministry Conference held at the Rock, a Calvary Chapel in Kensington, located in inner-city Philadelphia, PA, several years ago. Photo by Tom Price

                  

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All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

© 2022 Calvary Chapel Magazine (CCM). All rights reserved. Articles or photographs may not be reproduced without the written permission of CCM. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.® Used by permission.

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