Could God use you to reach people for Christ via the Internet? The answer may surprise you.
What if you could interact personally with seekers at their points of keenest interest, when they felt relaxed and under no pressure to respond and invited your thoughts and insight into spiritual matters? Consider the following story.
Jaime (not his real name) emailed after reading one of my Internet articles about life after death. He was a recent college graduate and didn’t believe in one God; he was, however, terribly afraid of death. From his studies of anthropology, he felt that believing in an afterlife was merely wishful thinking to assuage one’s fears. Nonetheless, he emailed this query: “I’m looking for the truth and I would appreciate it if you would show me a little of what you’ve found.”
I told Jaime that I, too, had wrestled with skepticism and fear of death. I related that my wife’s undergraduate degree was in anthropology and that she has still continued to use her inquisitive mind both in work and faith since becoming a follower of Jesus. I explained that I had come to know Christ in college and sent him links to Internet articles on anxiety, evidences for Jesus’ resurrection and the gospel.
Jaime appreciated the articles, and after reading them he placed his faith in Christ! He said he could see his life changing. His emotional problems were beginning to clear up, his outlook was becoming more positive and he was beginning to think more of others and less about himself. I sent him links to an online Bible and other articles to help him grow in faith. He planned to attend church.
God used the Internet to take the gospel message into Jaime’s living room. Then he used the Internet to bring Jaime into my living room (via email) for some conversation. The result: Angels rejoiced in heaven as a new believer passed from death to life.
I’m No Techie!
“How could I ever use the Internet to reach people for Christ?” you might wonder. Your skills may have thus far been restricted to sending emails and reading the news online. You are not alone. My technical knowledge is also limited. For years, I was even hesitant to use an ATM (Automatic Teller Machine) at the bank, for fear I would do something wrong and it would swallow my ATM card.
Gradually, I overcame my technophobia and began to use computers for word processing. However, I still used somewhat primitive setups. Only in 1998 did I switch from the rather archaic DOS operating system to Windows because a friend said I should “get with the (1990s) before the (1990s) are over!”
Figuring Out Your Own Talents
We all have talents and abilities. A key to usefulness is making our talents available to God. Your talents may be in building friendships, engaging in conversations, answering questions, inspiring people or telling stories. God can use those.
My own interests involve communication, especially relating Christ to secular (general) audiences. Over the years I’ve written numerous evangelistic articles to help reach nonbelievers. Several years ago, a couple of friends involved in Internet ministry, Keith Seabourn and Allan Beeber, asked me to send them my articles so they could put them online. Although I didn’t understand what this entailed exactly, they said it would make the articles available free to people all over the world. That seemed like a good thing.
Keith’s website, Leadership University www.leaderu.com), aimed to collect thousands of articles supporting the validity of the Christian faith. Allan’s website, Evangelism Toolbox (www.evangelism.com), became an online “Yellow Pages” (directory) of evangelism resources. Both helped introduce me to Internet outreach.
The Digital Revolution
At a convention in Amsterdam a few years ago, I saw a brochure that read, “The Great Commission is Going Digital; Are You Ready?” That piqued my interest. Maybe God wanted me to focus my energies on Internet Evangelism.
The brochure spoke of the then-fledgling Internet Evangelism Coalition (www.webevangelism.org). I started to hang out with and learn from the individuals involved in this ministry. I began to write more for the Web and soon my articles began to appear online. The simplicity and pervasive nature of the Internet was allowing people to find and use these articles in ways I had never imagined. I could sit with my laptop in my office, on an airplane or in a hotel room and compose an article that would tactfully nudge people toward Christ and biblical principles. Then, by pushing a button, I could send it to Internet publishers who would make it available to people around the globe.
This seemed almost too good to be true. What a potential for spreading good news!
A Simple Prayer
While jogging one morning in August 2003, I felt impressed to pray that within a year, I would be aware of one hundred websites that had used my articles. At the time, I was aware of forty-three. A year later, I learned of the 100th site that had used this material. Some sites publish the articles and others link to them. The articles appear in several languages, including English, Spanish, Albanian, Chinese, Croatian, French, German, Hungarian, Italian and Polish. People keep translating and posting them. God gets the glory for this.
A surprising number of the sites are not Christian. For instance, one site linked to a version of one article, “Elvis has Left the Building,” which traces the fascination with Elvis Presley and its spiritual implications. An Argentine medical school website published a translation of another article, “One Minute after Death,” which discusses near-death experiences.
Some secular newspaper sites ran material. Personal websites and “blogs” (weblogs) linked to articles. I did not contact these websites to ask them to use my articles. Many content managers simply found the articles on the Web and used them. Many of these articles can be found at www.probe.org/Rusty.
What Can You Do?
Some Christian Internet partners are seeing hundreds—in some cases, thousands—of their website visitors indicate decisions to trust in Christ. They connect inquirers with online volunteers who seek to answer their questions, help them grow in the faith and point them to a church. It’s a team effort that is bearing much fruit
Internet Evangelism (IE) offers a dazzling array of possibilities to communicate Christ. Writing articles is just one method. You may want to interact with unbelievers in a chat room, correspond via email, communicate on a blog, design your own website and/or pray for or support web outreach financially. Excellent IE training and volunteer or fulltime IE opportunities exist.
You can also encourage your church or Christian group to participate in Internet Evangelism Day, www.internetevangelismday.com. This international focus day is designed to help Christians learn more about the potential of the Web for outreach. The site explains how to create a short focus program to include in church services or other activities.
The important thing is to ask God what he would have you do. In John 2:5, Mary told the servants, “Whatever he [Jesus] says to you, do it.” Ask God to enlarge your borders. He did it for Jabez (1 Chronicles 4:10). Maybe he wants to do it for you, too. I hope he does.
Editors Note: The April issue of Lausanne World Pulse will focus on ways the Internet is being used for evangelism and outreach.