Internet Missions

By MeLissa LeFleur

As a child, I would sit and listen to Duane share stories of eating fat juicy grubs. As a missionary to various tribes in Ecuador, he had ample stories to gross me out and I hung on his every word. When I was in 5th grade, God called me to be a missionary. I wasn't sure what that meant exactly, but I was terrified that God would send me to Ecuador to eat grubs in the jungle! Even if I was scared, I was still willing to go wherever God sent me. In my childlike faith, I was even willing to eat grubs if that would help someone know Jesus.

God had other plans for me. When I was in college, this mysterious thing called the internet started becoming popular, and the mission field of my youth was being transformed. If I wanted to reach millions of people simultaneously, I could. My life changed the day I realized that. I was going to be an internet missionary.

How has the Internet changed missions?

The Scope With the advent of the internet, the potential mission field grew rapidly. We are no longer limited to areas where missionaries can travel safely or where radio waves can reach. Suddenly Christians can get inside the doors of "closed countries" and reach people groups we couldn't reach previously. It is estimated that there are 2,749 million Internet users in the world. As more and more areas get mobile access, those numbers continue to rise.

The Diversity I don't know about you, but I generally don't have people coming up to me on the street and asking how they can be saved from sin. The people I encounter online each day are asking those questions! They aren't the soccer moms I normally hang with; they are from all over the world and from all walks of life.

The Challenge Internet missions has several challenges. There is nothing like "real life" conversations over a cup of coffee. There is nothing like a missionary pouring into someone's life for years and years until they finally come to know Jesus. There will always be a place in God's mission field for the traditional missionary. What an awesome calling! I love being able to tell an online convert, "Let me give you a name of someone who can walk with you on this new journey." Without those "real life" people on the ground around the world, we couldn't do what we do.

I was recently in a mountainous region of Ecuador on a missions trip. Thankfully, they didn't feed me any grubs! During my stay, I witnessed a man pulling out a cell phone and looking something up online. Even in this remote village, people have access to the internet. Once again, my eyes were opened to the potential of this mysterious thing we call the internet.

So, maybe I am a missionary to Ecuador after all.

Image Credit: Kersley Fitzgerald

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Published 6-21-13