By Alexei Salapatov
Published November 1, 1995
Published in Predvestnik No.3, 1995
Have you ever realized there are still a number of places in the earth where access is still denied for Christian missionaries. This is not because of a lack of training, zeal or finances. It isn’t due to a lack of faith. You have probably heard a lot already about computer networks and have possibly even had a chance to work with this. In this article, I’d like to talk about the Internet and opportunity to use it for missionary purposes.
Even in our super-technological time, when it seems like nothing is impossible, there are many obstacles which prevent the Good News from spreading around the world. First of all, Muslim countries give no chance for Christian missionaries or domestic believers to work in the field of preaching the Gospel. Many cases are known of Christians who were executed or arrested for their confession of faith. (Predvestnik reported such facts in a special issue dedicated to Islam – No.2, 1994.) What solution can be found to remedy this situation? Should missionaries be sent to be killed in Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia?
Invention of moveable type freed people from retelling and hand copying the Bible, invention of the radio allowed us to address millions of listeners, television made possible to see things from thousands of miles away. However, let’s remind ourselves of the near past – the USSR. Didn’t our custom officers confiscate and burn thousands of Bibles and didn’t missionaries used to be deported out of the country? Didn’t we have a unique complex of “stunners” which jammed everything in the air from “The Voice of the Vatican” to “The Voice of America.” Satanic inventions found the means to prevent evangelization. Though, as we know, they couldn’t prevent it.
So what is the difference between the Muslim world and the former communist bloc? A big difference. Even in the most cruel years of persecution, our preachers were not executed and new Christians were not imprisoned with the same ferocity as in the Muslim world of today. Muslim customs officials confiscate Bibles with greater zeal, and find more effective ways to jam “undesirable” radio signals on the air. What action should be taken to destroy this wall?
At this point, I’d like to go back to the title of this article. First of all, a definition: The Internet – the world’s largest computer network that links millions of computers from different places around the world. According to the most recent statistics, 160 thousand new users join this net monthly. The main purpose of this network is free and operative distribution of information. We should mention that the Internet handles this task excellently. Anyone who’s got a computer with a modem and phone line can get access to the network – no matter where you are – in New York or even in a forgotten village somewhere in Siberia. Once connected, any type of information can be received: from weather forecasts to cooking recipes.
So what is the difference between this new thing and every other type of media? Well though it may sound a bit strange – uncontrollability. The world biggest net doesn’t belong to anybody and isn’t controlled by anybody. Access to it can’t be shut down, jammed or put under the control of a state no matter how powerful it is. This opens many great opportunities for evangelizing the nations. Imagine, translations of the Bible in any language can be transmitted to millions of users. If the Internet is used by everybody for any purpose (from clothing sales to air-ticket reservations) what keeps us Christians from using such a powerful net for ministry?
There are already many Christian Internet sites in the West. What prevents the same thing from happening here in the CIS? Right now there are not many obstacles. Many churches and missions have personal computers that can be successfully used for such purposes. Besides that, connecting to the Internet significantly boosts sending and receiving of messages (letters, etc.) and also saves money on sending faxes abroad (i.e., the need for it practically disappears).
By 1997, we will have electronic version of Predvestnik in Russian and English. We’ll let you know how to get it in further issues. Possibly you have ideas or suggestions, articles or testimonies that will be interesting for others. We encourage to share any material you may have for publication in our newspaper and we will place it on the Internet.
So if you or your organization have a computer, but no access to the Internet, consider becoming a user. Also, we ask you to send us information on churches and missions who have who have e-mail addresses. We plan on compiling a database of Christian organizations on the territory of the former USSR. Good luck in the world of information!
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