“I am definitely super thankful for the Internet,” says missionary Lori Bennett, who serves in Nova Scotia. “It really does play a huge part in my ministry … it gives me opportunities to talk one-on-one with the kids I work with, and their older sisters or brothers.”
Most of Lori’s face-to-face ministry is in groups, and it’s hard to get together with the kids who have questions and want to talk, she explains. So she uses MSN and Facebook — MSN for “talking” with individuals, and Facebook for group communication. “God has given me so many opportunities to share the Gospel and encourage and counsel people through MSN,” she says. “Sometimes I feel like I really have to prepare myself to sign in, cause it’s definitely ministry. Lots of times I find myself sitting here at my computer praying, ‘Jesus, help me know what to say.’ ”
“Facebook I love too,” says Lori, “because it’s helped me become more of an ‘open book’ to people on the Reserve. There’s lots of people who I haven’t yet met, or been able to get to know really well. By checking me out on Facebook they can find out who I am, what I believe, why I work with the kids, and what we do. I made a video just of me explaining the Gospel. A bunch of people from the Reserve told me they’d watched it on Facebook, and that opened up the door to talk about Jesus more.”
Other NCEMers tell how they use the Internet in ministry: Jim Davis posts Pine Ridge Bible Camp videos on YouTube, youth retreat photos on Facebook, and has regular conversations with teen campers via e-mail and Facebook. Campers “tag” their friends on his photos, so he knows they see them. “It’s been good to keep in touch with campers through the year … and through the years,” says Jim, who serves at Headquarters and involved with the Camp.
Dallas & Deena Roberts and their daughters also assist at Pine Ridge. Even while their daughter Lisa was studying in Israel, she was still very involved in campers’ lives through the Internet. She even had a girl threatening suicide online, and phoned a northern pastor to go and help. Lisa has used the Net to encourage teens to attend our Mission’s winter youth retreats.
Mark Dana (Quebec) uses the Internet to stay in contact with men he’s met from isolated northern communities. Anita Boucher (northwestern Sask.) uses Facebook to stay in contact with local girls. “You know when they are in trouble, and can pray more specifically,” she says, “and it helps me know when they need an in-person visit.”
Carl Sonnichsen just joined Facebook. “With certain people, communication lines have really opened up,” he says, “and our communication can go way beyond what we would normally talk about face-to-face.” Phil Peters is another missionary using Facebook. Along with phone calls, he’s using it particularly to encourage a young Native ministry leader.