Over 50% of the world is now online, reported a reputed magazine, The Economist, in 2019 itself. Atleast 726 million people came online in the years 2017 through 2019 with ‘much of the rise coming from poorer places, notably Africa and India’ (the same report said). Mobile data usage per smartphone was the highest in India among all the countries of the World (according to a Ericsson report of 2019). From these numbers come a missionary call!
THE INTERNET MINSITRY CALL FROM GOD’S PAINFUL QUESTION
Why do I say that? Because I have read the last verse of book of Jonah which goes this way: “And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?” (Jonah 4:11 NIV). Those are the words of the Father God. The huge numbers of poeple in the city of Nineveh who did not know left hand from right hand concerned God. Bible Scholars , explain the phrase ‘did not know left hand from right hand’ this way: the people of Nineveh were morally confused, so much so, that they called what was wrong as right, and what was right they called wrong. It was akin to people of a contemporary city applauding for crimes such as rapes and showing utter distain for acts of love such as dressing of a leper’s wounds by a nurse. The numbing numbers of people that were present in Nineveh with horrendous moral confusion made God concerned about them. The huge numbers of people online any given time of the day and a vast majority among them using data for porn consumption or fuelling illicit relationships outside marriage bonds using the convenience of certain dating apps should move us to being concerned as well. The God who was disappointed with Prophet Jonah who had turned a deaf year to the missionary call from the numbers of evil-embracing people, will he be also disappointed with us as well?
Why not we become imitators of our missionary-hearted God we read about in the book of Jonah? We not we get involved actively in Internet Evangelism and Online Disciple Building efforts?
THE INTERNET MINISTRY CALL FROM APOSTLE PAUL’S POINTED OBSERVATION
Apostle Paul talks about people in the city of Rome who “always (were) thinking up new ways to do evil” (Rom. 1:30, CEV). The internet has provided the convenience and the platform to do just. During the pandemic, online classes were the order of the day for students (they still are as I write these words in January 2021). And when it came to online exams, students were quite inventive when it came to cheating. While the older generation would hide chits that would provide hints as they wrote the exams in their socks and shirt sleeves, the Google Generation, creates WhatsApp/Telegram/Signal groups to unfairly seek help as an online exam is on. Why should the internet only fuel new ways of doing evil? Why can’t it fuel new ways of sharing the Gospel and winning the lost?
THE INTERNET MINISTRY CALL FROM THE LOCATION THAT JESUS CHOSE TO MEET THE SAMARITAN WOMAN
Jesus did not wait for the sinful Samaritan Woman to come to a synagogue. Instead, he went to a non-sinful place which she frequented – the city’s well. And there he met her. And he began conversing with her. He did not wait for her to start the conversation (Read John 4 and find all about it). Pretty soon, this marriage-hopping woman became a soul-winning woman! Jesus’ approach gives us a clue as to how we must evangelise: We must be in non-sinful places which the unsaved frequent! And the place which the unsaved frequent the most these days is definitely, the internet. So, we must be available on the internet to meet with them and share the Gospel!
Well, we have seen the “why” of internet evangelism so far. Now to the “how”. I believe that should be left to the individual believer’s choice. Some are good at video production. Some are good at responding quickly to chats. Some of good at voice calls. We need to examine what activity we enjoy doing while we are online and use that very channel to build God’s kingdom. You may not be able to carbon copy someone else way of doing internet evangelism. The key is to see your smartphone as a tool for evangelism – not a toy for self-gratification.
In our ministry, the Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, we have a team of internet volunteers. Vikas Yadav cuts my long youtube messages and makes them short, adding titles at the start and at the end. He includes a back ground music as well. These shorter videos are viewed by more people. Lijo John receives audio messages from me via WhatsApp that bring Bible truth wrapped around contemporary events. He finds pictures from the internet that represent my words and strings together a video which inturn blesses many as it gets forwarded on WhatsApp. Sunny Karumanchi using his high tech camera that God has given him shoots ‘short videos on hot topics’ from the Bible with me behind his lens. Gipu James, Harsha, Ferry, John and Lamuel, help design posters for the events I preach God’s Word in. This list is not exhaustive.
What about you? Will you get involved in internet evangelism after reading this? You must!
(This article was published in the Aim Magazine – February 2021 edition; Aim is published by the Evangelical Fellowship of India. The author, Duke Jeyaraj is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission. This is a reader-supported Indian ministry. Find out more at http://www.dukev.org or by subscribing to http://www.youtube.com/visitduke).