Connections – Part 1

When I was in high school, our local PBS station re-ran a series called Connections. I can remember coming home from church on Sunday nights and watching it with my dad. It was a pretty cool show that would detail the history of some present day technology, tracing it back to various discoveries in the past. Sometimes the links between the discoveries were not immediately apparent, and the host of the show would draw the connections. Pretty fascinating stuff.

On the recent trip that Ingrid and I made to Mexico I had a very interesting experience. I was engaged in a few different conversations, a couple planned and one completely unexpected, where I sensed God making connections and giving me a vision for a way to leverage technology in order to accelerate the spread of the gospel.

It isn’t some great idea that is some huge leap and completely new, but rather the culmination of a few different tools that all are already in pretty wide use. This is more a matter of bringing the various pieces together and modifying them to fit the needs of ministry.

Early on in the week, Ingrid and I met with Joe Cross. Joe is one of the directors for the City Focus ministry in Mexico City. Joe shared with me his desire to have tools that would help them manage the contacts they are developing all over the city. He also wanted help putting together a conference registration system. The third item we discussed was a social network that would allow believers all over the city to connect, share ideas and coordinate. In Mexico, there has been a history of division between various denominations and churches. Joe wants to be a part of breaking down those barriers and helping the body of Christ to move forward in a way that has never been seen there before.

If you spend much time dealing with the internet you know that all of these things already exist. It is just a matter of pulling the resources together to get them working for Joe and his team. What started to get me excited was the fact that I’ve already been having similar conversations with other staff. Staff here in Orland, staff in Europe and not just staff, but friends who are outside Crusade.

It wasn’t but just a couple weeks before our trip that one of our dear friends and supporters, who happens to also have worked with Oracle and databases quite a bit, had emailed me about the possibilities of technology and the impact they could have on missions. He had sent me a list of thoughts and ideas, each something that could have a meaningful impact on reaching the world for Christ. As I listened to Joe telling us his needs, sitting in a Mexico City restaurant, I heard echoed many of the same ideas and dreams I’d already heard from others.

The last night in Mexico we had a little get together. It was a party at a coffee shop where students we had met during the week would have an opportunity to meet other students who were already involved in ministry on their campus. The City Focus staff were there, our group from headquarters was there, and a group from the Crusade ministry Faculty Commons were there. Faculty Commons is a ministry that involves Christian professors reaching other university faculty for Christ. At that party I met Dave Wiley, the International Operations Director for Faculty Commons. He described to me his desires and dreams for how technology could accelerate ministry.

It was such an exciting conversation. Again I was hearing many of the same ideas. Some things he hoped for are projects that we have in work now at headquarters. (For example a video conferencing system that will save the organization hundreds of thousands of dollars in travel.) Others were things that need to be done, it is just a matter of man power and other resources. But what most excited me is that it is very apparent that God is moving in the hearts and minds of individuals all over the world. There is too much in common in these thoughts and plans coming from very different places and people.

It was awesome to go to Mexico and see God at work. To see people come to Christ and see movements launched on campuses. What was just as exciting was seeing what God was doing in my own heart and mind. I’ve returned to Orlando with a vision for creating tools that have the potential to facilitate massive change. I’ll be posting more, but I just wanted to set the stage for coming posts that spell out just what can be done.

I want to leave you with a picture that was painted for me by Dave Wiley. He was sharing with me how one of America’s weapons in the war in Iraq is the Predator. It is an unmanned, remotely controlled aircraft. It can do reconnaisance and is also used in combat, as it can carry air to ground missiles. What is interesting is that the pilots for these aircraft fly them from control stations at Creech Air Force base, in Nevada. The machines and the weapons are in Iraq, the pilots fly them and do combat from a monitor in Nevada, near Las Vegas. If the internet and modern technology can be used to engage in warfare all over the globe, what opportunities are we missing out on to use the same types of technology to reach out and give meaningful expressions of God’s love the world over?