By Rusty Wright
Could God use you to reach people for Christ via the internet? The answer may surprise you!
"How could I ever use the Internet to reach people for Christ?" you might wonder. "I'm no techie. I know how to send e-mail and read the news online, but that's about it."
I can identify with that. My technical knowledge is limited. For many years, I was even hesitant to use an ATM at the bank for fear I would do something stupid and it would swallow my card.
Gradually, I overcame my technophobia and began to use computers for word processing. But I 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 90s before the 90s are over!"
What are your 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 certainly can use those. Here's a story that may encourage you.
My own interests involve communication, especially relating Christ to secular 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 all my articles so they could put them "online". I didn't understand all that meant, but they said it would make the articles available free to people around the globe. That seemed like a good thing.
The website Leadership University aimed to collect thousands of articles supporting the validity of Christian faith. Evangelism Toolbox became an online "Yellow Pages" (directory) of evangelism resources. They helped introduce me to Internet outreach.
Are you ready for the digital revolution?
At a convention in Amsterdam a few years ago, I saw a brochure that said, "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. I started to hang out with these folks - wonderful people - and to learn from them. I began to write more for the web and various articles appeared online. Another friend encouraged me to do a Google search on my name. I was amazed to see page after page of my articles on websites that I had never heard of!
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 or 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
In August 2003, while jogging one morning, I felt impressed to pray that within a year, I would be aware of 100 websites that had used my articles. (At the time, I was aware of 43.) There wasn't an audible "voice from heaven" or handwriting on the sidewalk; just a strong inner impression that I should pray this. A year later, I learned of the 100th site that had used this material. Some sites published the articles and others linked to them. The articles appeared in several languages: English, Spanish, Albanian, Croatian, Hungarian, Italian, and Polish. People just kept translating and posting them. It seemed beyond my control or ability. God gets the glory for this.
A surprising number of the sites were not Christian. For instance, one site linked to a version of the article Elvis Has Left the Building which traces fascination with Elvis Presley and its spiritual implications. An Argentine medical school website published a translation of One Minute After Death, about near-death experiences.
Some secular newspaper sites ran material. Personal websites and "blogs" (web logs) linked to articles. I did not contact all these websites, asking them to use my articles. Many content managers simply found the articles on the web and used them.
I even found one article link on a porn site. I should clarify. The evangelistic article is entitled Dynamic Sex: Unlocking the Secret to Love. It presents a biblical perspective on sex and love but is written to grab and hold the attention of non-Christians. And no, I did not discover this link by surfing porn sites! I typed the article title into Google. I do pray that many websurfers who go to that site looking for pornography will find Jesus. God has a sense of humour!
Again, God gets all the glory for this. If you have interest, many of these seeker-and skeptic-friendly articles are at Rusty Wright Ministries.
What can you do?
Internet evangelism offers you 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, pray for and/or support web outreach financially.
You can also encourage your church or Christian group to participate in 'Internet Evangelism Day'. This international focus day programme helps Christians learn more about the potential of the Web for outreach. Their www.InternetEvangelismDay.com site explains how to create a short focus programme to include in church services or other activities.
The important thing is to ask God what He would have you do. As Mary told the servants in John 2:5, "Whatever He [Jesus] says to you, do it."
Ask God to enlarge your borders. He did it for Jabez (1 Chronicles 4:10).
• Rusty Wright is an author, syndicated columnist and university lecturer with Probe.org who has spoken on six continents. He holds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford Universities, respectively.