God has appointed missional technologists waiting to be found. Truly, how can one share a vision between gaps of distance and lifelines unless God shows him? How can one catch the vision unless the Spirit reveals it?
I have recently seen God raise up people for missions during a time of social distancing in the Visayas Region of the Philippines, and this story I share as it was authored by Dayana, a lady who found her skills a home in Techlesia:
Ever since COVID-19 ravaged the world, mankind was forced to stay at home and physically distance themselves from each other. Digital technology has never been more of a game changer in this new normal. And as the use of these technologies thrive, so do the opportunities to do missions online. But a number of the local churches are not equipped with the knowledge of how to purposely and effectively use technology for the work that Christ commissioned the church to do. Such is the reality for the local churches in the Antique province
Ronnie Duhina is one of the pastors in Antique who ministers to people through conventional methods. He goes out to evangelize people and visit the homes of his congregation. But with the implementation of social distancing, these conventional means are not operable anymore. He desires to learn of some other ways to reach people for Christ and minister to the spiritual needs of the church members. So on the morning of the 26th of July, he traveled to the nearby town of Bugasong, where he had an invitation to an open forum. The open forum proposed to discuss the realities of today’s new normal and how the Church of Christ could keep up with trends.
This forum was brought together by Techlesia. It is a startup platform from Goducate Philippines with the vision of transforming every local church into a technology-empowered ecclesia. Techlesia originated from two words: Technology + Ecclesia (the Church).
The core purpose of Techlesia is to encourage, empower, and equip the church to maximize the use of technology and utilize each believer’s potential for the advancement of God’s Kingdom and the fulfillment of the Great Commission. Techlesia is both a digital platform and a personal support group for every local ecclesia that is willing to take on the challenge of adapting to these dynamic, changing times.
“The vision for Techlesia started when I became an online speaker for a two-day online youth camp and realized that we are not maximizing technology,” Mr. Samuel Peroy says. “The vision became clearer when I thought of the same thing after I spoke to the youths and the youth pastor of my local church. Many Christians are not maximizing their time online.” Samuel, along with five other individuals, shares the same desire of helping the local churches, particularly in the aspect of maximizing technology.
Desiring to learn the needs and the struggles of some of the local churches regarding digital technology and encouraging them to maximize whatever existing technology they have, Techlesia pushed forward with the open forum. It set the beginnings of its God-sized dreams. Though the forum didn’t always run smoothly, it is in the difficulties that God’s hands are clearly seen.
During the program, the online team experienced internet interruption back in the Goducate Training Center in Iloilo. They decided to go up to a hill, where they expected to get a data connection, and then connect back to the onsite team in Bugasong. With mosquito coils, monobloc chairs, personal phones, and a small tripod, the team managed to connect back to the onsite team with green leaves and singing birds in the background. But the data connection was not very steady and they got disconnected time and again.
“Despite all the technical hiccups that occurred, we managed to remain calm because of the Holy Spirit’s help. Knowing that it was the Lord’s work and not ours, God filled us with faith and flexibility instead of fear. It was a truly humbling experience,” says Miss Chriselda Ador, one of the team members.
Maximizing what you have
One of the lessons God taught the team that day was to maximize whatever technology they had. The online team did not have a laptop and their internet was not that stable. God brought them to the point where they used their personal phones and an unused VPN subscription. That day, the attendants saw how God makes use of things, great or small, as long as the person who wields it yields it to Him to be used. It was encouraging to see that they could engage in online activities for the work of Christ with whatever digital tools He had provided them.
Despite the interruptions caused by technical difficulties, the open forum pushed through and the participants actively participated in small group discussions with the online panelists via Zoom. The online panelists were comprised of people from different backgrounds, including a pastor from Malaybalay Bukidnon, a licensed microbiologist, two digital missionaries with Indigitous, an IT head, and trainees from Goducate.
The participants were able to discuss their situations in their local churches, their needs and struggles, and their desires to continue ministering to people despite the challenges caused by the pandemic. Participants exchanged testimonies, took part in a question and answer session, joined breakout groups, encouraged and counseled each other for about two hours.
A phone can reach the world
“I don’t have a touchscreen cellphone of my own and I usually use my wife’s phone to keep updated with people or have a short chat through messenger,” Ronnie says. “But she uses it so I am praying that God will provide one for me. With it, I could also start sharing our Sunday worship on Facebook Live!”
Through the open forum, God planted a desire in Ronnie’s heart to own a cellphone and learn how to use it because he now sees its huge potential in reaching and ministering to people, especially in this time of the pandemic, where people are commanded to observe social distancing.
The charge of Jesus Christ to his disciples to be faithful in fulfilling the Great Commission still holds the same degree of urgency and truth to this day. He warned His followers not to be overtaken by the worries and pleasures of this life. Digital technology could weaken and compromise our relationship with God or it could be used for His greater glory. Just as Paul had maximized the use of Roman roads, the latest technology of his time, Christians today are also responsible for maximizing digital technology for the sake of the Gospel of Christ. He designed Techlesia through the lives of willing vessels and He intends to use this platform in assisting the Church to be a technology-empowered ecclesia all for His purposes and glory.