“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” (Matt 9:37)
When Gutenberg’s printing press was invented the first book to be run off was the Bible. Suddenly it was able to be mass produced at an affordable cost. When vernacular translations started to appear years later, this too opened many more people to the gospel.
Centuries later, with the advent of film, the ability to use moving pictures for our gospel presentation added an extra touch. More recently, movies like the Jesus film, based on the gospel of Luke, provided a great way of sharing the gospel. This movie has been translated into over 1700 languages and is the most translated and most watched motion picture of all time. It is still being used today to share the gospel and is bearing fruit. According to their website, jesusfilm.org, “more than 490 million people have come to Christ after watching these films”.
Globally, radio is still one of the best mediums to reach the greatest number around the world. Here in Australia it might be that people rarely listen to the radio, but in much of the world radio has been a mainstay of gospel communications. With missions like FEBC broadcasting the gospel across impassable borders, or GRN (Global Recordings Network), or WEC’s own RW (see page 7) creating multilingual radio and audio shows to share Jesus, the gospel has had a reach beyond the limited voices of the missionaries who go, deep into places they can’t get to.
A handful of years ago people were sending out windup mp3 players and radios with various gospel recordings on them, giving them out to people for free. Another great way of getting the word of God out to people who hadn’t heard – again in their languages. Especially to oral cultures and illiterate people. A word that can stay after the Christians leave.
Recently however, with the rise of the smartphone, and in particular its uptake within developing countries like China, India, Pakistan, Indonesia and Nigeria (home to numerous unreached people groups), we are seeing new opportunities for the gospel. Could the smartphone provide a significant vehicle for the gospel to these people?
Apps are being developed to share the gospel. Bibles and other apps in many languages, gospel recordings and literature are being accessed from the internet, missions are creating YouTube channels and websites to share Jesus, and many other gospel resources are being encountered by people the world over.
Apps like Skype and social media and messaging services are providing opportunities for evangelism, discipleship and training. God is even using sites like Google and YouTube to get his gospel out. The Holy Spirit is not limited by our technology; he is happy to use what is there as we, his people, spread his word.
Technology is also used in missions in a heap of other ways: by our supporting branches in the raising up of others to go, in the training of new workers, in the raising of awareness, and in the communication of stories, testimonies and prayer points back home. And in the backend development and upkeep of websites, servers, CMSs and social media accounts.
So much has changed, so many new ways are opening up for people to be involved in missions. And still Jesus’ words declare, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” (Matt 9:37)
But as with any piece of technology, what’s important is how it is used. How are you using the technology at your disposal? Are you using it to bring life to others? Could you see a career for yourself using technology and media to take the gospel of Jesus to those who have never heard?