I can’t have been more than 8 years old the first time I heard an appeal to send missionaries out. “To the ends of the earth,” they said. “We have to send people to the ends of the earth before Jesus returns. With your help, we can do this before the end of the twentieth century.”
I marveled as my step-mother wrote an enormously generous check to help fund the messengers, even as I swallowed back doubts at the impossibility of the task.
I imagined little villages of little people, semi-clad with exotic piercings and clickety languages. I wondered what would happen to the villages no-one knew existed, to people groups tucked away in dark corners of closed countries. How would we reach them?
I smiled at my 8year old self this week as I listened to missionaries of over 30 years share about their experiences. Years and years in a remote location. Years and years of language study. Years and years of patient relationship building and Bible translation – the fruits of which were a copy of the New Testament, Genesis and Exodus in their heart language. With the double zinger challenges of printing difficulties and Bible-possession being illegal – precious few copies were passed out.
The missionary shrugged: “if we gave out 20 copies, it was a lot.” I sighed. Not many reached, I thought.
He continued, “but the internet… well, the internet has changed everything.” They uploaded their years of work onto a website, and marveled at the reaching power which the internet age and smart phones could muster.
He laughed as he told us some of the numbers: to date 23,000 copies of their bible translation have been downloaded digitally. “In the past, showing someone a bible could get you imprisoned. But these days, you can whip out a cellphone in the middle of a market and show a friend what you just read, and no one will bat an eyelid.”
I listened to him speak and I laughed. Laughed at how impossible the task of reaching the ends of the earth had seemed to my eight year old self. Laughed at how God, looking down on little me, must have been thinking “just you wait, little one, wait and see what I have just around the corner.”
I’m convinced that just as God was behind the invention of the printing press – a great technological leap that radically changed the world’s access to bibles – so too God had big plans for the internet.
I know we love to harp about the dangers of the web and addictions to social media, but then again – there never was a good thing which hasn’t been twisted by the tempter. A warped version of a thing should never make us assume that the thing is inherently warped. God creates good things; Satan twists them; God redeems them. It is His way.
And I marvel once again at God who is greater than Google, who is the ultimate web Master. I marvel that 23,000 bibles were safely downloaded in a tucked away corner of the globe. I marvel that this little blog of mine has been viewed in more than 100 countries worldwide in its 10 months of existence. What? Me? Playing a part in the destiny of the nations while wearing my pajamas?
I marvel at His Reach. His arm is not too short to save.
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