From Olives to E-mail Frontier Missions Hits the Internet by Debra Fleetwood Wood
In the mid-1400's a farmer's olive press cranked out the first mechanically printed Bible. God's kingdom hurtled forward at previously unthinkable speed. Within fifty years more than 6,000 books were published, becoming a crucial driving force of the Reformation. Mr. Gutenberg's invention was on the cutting edge of both technology and missions.
"We must redeem technology," said Luis Bush in his opening remarks at GCOWE '95 in Seoul, Korea on May 17th. And like Luther, who seized Gutenberg's invention for the kingdom of God and literally changed the world, Christian leaders in every country today may bravely climb aboard the rocket of technology for a world-changing flight toward the year 2000.
Imagine this scenario: Joe, a missionary in an isolated area of Africa, is stricken with hemorrhagic fever. His life hangs in the balance. Within hours, dozens of intercessors in various locations around the world are alerted and begin to pray for Joe's recovery. How did they learn of the need so quickly?
Or think of this scenario: two congregations, one in South Korea and another in Mexico City, are both praying for the same Eastern European people group. A missionary in Dallas and another in England are each training to reach these people. How can they discover each other and work together? The answer to both of these questions is the electronic superhighway, popularly known as the "the Net" or, increasingly in computer journals as "the I-way."
Using computers equipped with modems, subscribers use radio or local phone lines both to send and receive messages, review posted documents, access databases, or enter discussions with others around the world. Because the access lines are usually local, the expense is minimal.
The central network of electronic information is the Internet. Internet was first developed by the U.S. military in the 1960s and 70s for defense and scientific research. Today an estimated 30-50 million people worldwide use the Internet to exchange information. Terms such as e-mail, electronic conferencing, and the World Wide Web all refer to various aspects of the Internet.
Electronic mail or e-mail allows people to exchange letters created on computer. Commercial services that enable users to send e-mail include America On-line and Compuserve. These use simple pictures (icons) to guide customers through their various services and connections. Very adept computer users usually connect directly to the Internet.
While electronic mail can link two individual computers, electronic conferencing can bring together a large number of individuals to discuss specific subjects on-line. Since we can't have a GCOWE every week or even every year, electronic conferencing will allow Christian leaders and missionaries worldwide to continue to work on goals together on a regular basis. A new service developed especially for all those working toward "A Church for Every People and the Gospel for Every Person by AD2000" is called Brigada.
The name Brigada was chosen from the Crimean Tatar culture. When all the members of a community pull together to build a large building, they create a brigada. Similarly, Christians worldwide need to work side by side to help erect God's building, His Church. When a computer user electronically enters the Internet and subscribes to Brigada, he will begin receiving the weekly "paper" Brigada Today posted to his electronic mailbox every Friday. The paper announces new electronic conferences starting and how to subscribe, lists current electronic conferences and reminds readers of new resources in file areas.
There is no charge for Brigada subscriptions, but some sensitive conferences, such as "Security" (discussing missionary work in difficult-to-access countries), may require approval based on appropriate personal references.
One of the most valuable functions of the Internet is its ability to store and access a large diversity of information libraries and publications. Through Brigada, subscribers may receive the Global Prayer Digest daily delivered like the morning news to your e-mailbox. Like an alarm clock, this can remind computer users to include prayer for a specific unreached people group in their daily routine. "It made a big difference for me," says Doug Lucas, Brigada's creator and keeper. "I used to get Global Prayer Digest, put it on the shelf and forget about it. Now I pray every day."
Mission Frontiers is also now available electronically through Brigada. As time goes on more and more back issues will be available electronically.
The World Wide Web is an array of interrelated documents, located on computers around the world, that together form a kind of virtual library. Web users may read documents that look like printed pictures and words. By clicking (with a mouse) on interesting words or pictures in the story, users can easily open other related documents. There are several places on the Internet where you can find people willing to pray for specific missionaries needs. "Speed the Need" is a computer mailing list of praying people willing to receive requests from missionaries. To join this prayer group address email to [email protected]. In the body of the mail type subscribe stn . Brigada also has a prayer site which can be subscribed to by sending email to [email protected] with only the words, subscribe brigada-prayer- requests in the text of the message.
While many major cities in the world have easy access to the I-way through services such as Compuserve, some places do not. A revolutionary new service available to missionaries in remote locations is "MAFnet." Missions Aviation Fellowship has developed a new way to help missionaries access the I-way using two-way radio links. This way even missionaries who do not have telephone service may access the information superhighway.
MAFnet reports that they now have service available in the following countries: Kenya, Irian Jaya, Albania, Rwanda, West Kalimantan, Honduras, Zaire, East Kalimantan, and Mali. Countries in progress are Zaire, Honduas, and Mali. Soon to be added are Lesotho, Angola, Tanzania, Chad and Uganda.
Steering onto the Information Superhighway may seem intimidating at first. Christians in countries without all the electronic infrastructure may also ask, "What does that have to do with us?" The answer is that anything that helps Christians be more effective in prayer, mutual support, and reaching out with the good news of Jesus Christ, cannot but be a good thing. Besides, with thousands of people groups remaining to be reached and the year 2000 rapidly approaching, all Christian work needs the best tools available. So climb aboard; the benefits are eternal.
Subscription Information If you already use an E-mail service, like America Online, Compuserve, MCI Mail, or a local university (if you can find a friendly contact), you can subscribe to Brigada at no additional charge.
To subscribe to the top level of Brigada (and receive "Brigada Today" each Friday and to learn more about the whole family of Brigada networks), send your subscription request to [email protected] with the following content (not subject): subscribe Brigada
What will I find on Brigada?
Prayer To receive or share mission-related prayer requests, send a message to [email protected] with the content (not subject): subscribe Brigada-prayer-request
Publications To have the Global Prayer Digest sent to your E-mail address daily, send a message to [email protected] with the content (not subject): subscribe Brigada-pubs-globalprayerdigest
To subscribe to Mission Frontiers, send a message to [email protected] with the content (not subject): subscribe Brigada-pubs-missionfrontiers
Unreached People Conferences To share information with others working on the same missions goal, send a message to [email protected] with only the following words in the body of the message (subject ignored): subscribe followed by the name of a conference from the following list: • brigada-albania-durres A working group that focuses on Durres, Albania, with prayer requests, reports, and updates
- brigada-argentina-laplata Working group for LaPlata, Argentina
- brigada-cities This conference on the world's least ,evangelized cities will serve as a depository area for Viv Grigg and the Cities Resource Network.
- brigada-colombia-bogota Working group for Bogota, CO
- brigada-ecuador-guayaquil Working group for Guayaquil, EC
- brigada-india This conference on India hopes to present general information that would relate to all who are working on/for the subcontinent. Will probably spawn additional conferences in the future that will focus on specific areas.
- brigada-orgs-missionmobilizers Launched by the AD2000 "Mobilizing New Missionaries" Track, this conference provides a public forum for interfacing with mobilizing strategies.
- brigada-orgs-teamex Subscribers here get the weekly HeartBeat Online reporting on the work and workers of Team Expansion around the world.
- brigada-orgs-uscwm-robby Current missions issues, with Robby and Jackie Butler
- brigada-peoples This conference on the world's unreached people grups will serve as a depository area for John Robb and the Unreached Peoples Track. (Note: The conference structure is created, but this conference is still waiting for a moderator for full launching. If you'd consider moderating this conference, send email to [email protected].)
- brigada-peoples-arab Networking and prayer requests for Arab-speaking peoples of the world.
- brigada-peoples-kazakh Prayer requests and reports regarding: Kazakh people. Note: this is a "secured" conference. New subscribers are asked to supply references.
- brigada-peoples-latam Networking among missionaries in Latin America.
- brigada-peoples-makua Networking, partnering, prayer requests for the Makua people of sourthern Mozambique and southern Tanzania.
- brigada-prayer-mobilizers A "command post" for global prayer mobilizers.
- brigada-projects-brigada Brainstorming, future growth for Brigada, staff.
- brigada-projects-cells Networking for those using a cell model in CC/CC.
- brigada-projects-dfwmobilizers For mission mobilizers in Dallas/Fort Worth area.
- brigada-projects-envision96 Occasional updates about a Christian Church/Ch. of Chr. missions convention in Lexington, KY, called Envision '96, scheduled for Oct. 96
- brigada-ukraine-crimea Networking, partnering, prayer requests, Crimea and Crimean Tatars
- brigada-ukraine-kharkov Prayer requests and reports regarding Kharkov, Ukraine.
- brigada-uruguay-montevideo Prayer requests and reports regarding Montevideo, Uruguay
- brigada-us-prayertrack Networking & prayer for revival and spiritual awakening, including the US Prayer Team.
World Wide Web Access
Currently both America Online and Compuserve provide World Wide Web access to their subscribers. For those of you who would like to explore this vast new realm, the U.S. Center, AD2000 and Beyond Movement, Brigada and AIMS have a "home page" from which you can explore the missions information that they have made available. You will need to use the following home page addresses in order to access this information.
The WWW address for Mission Frontiers and other US Center materials is: http://www.uscwm.org
The AD2000 page address is:
For the Brigada page it is:
Debra Fleetwood Wood is a freelance writer from Seattle, Washington. This article first appeared in the May 19th issue of the GCOWE Today newspaper.