Saturday, September 06, 2008
Technology as Evangelism?
On the weekend of August 23 - 24 we were blessed to go to the small town of Makolondi an hour southwest of Niamey. We went to set up 7 computers for the ministry center there run by the missionary couple and volunteer in Makolondi. We went to serve, but I think we all returned taking something more back than we went with.
Our time in Makolondi was one of the most relaxing computer service weekends I have done. We were able to get the 7 computers working, installed learning software on them, and by late afternoon were ready to welcome (mostly) students to the updated computer room. Many of the kids we worked with that afternoon had none to very limited computer experience. In a town that only recently got electricity down the main drag, computers are pretty scarce! We were pretty encouraged how fast the kids caught on to moving the mouse, picking out the letters on the keyboard.
Some might not see the wisdom of such a ministry. What would kids living in the almost bush need with a ministry that has a computer component? There are a few good reasons for this actually.
First, with educational oportunities, these kids don't have to stay in the almost bush. More and more we are seeing that one of the ways of advancement in this very poor country is education. These kids do not want to be left technologically behind, even though they are starting from a huge deficit. The computers are not the end, they are a means of helping these kids educationally.
Secondly, they are finding that there is a whole differant world where their unique abilities and creativities maybe expressed. Technology can open their eyes to a whole new landscape they would otherwise not see!
Thirdly, and most importantly of these three, the availability of technology as part of the ministry center is a draw to those who will also hear the gospel at that ministry center. Here they will hear bible stories in their own language, and see videos of the life of a man named Jesus, who loved them and their country enough to lay down his life for them. And He rose again, because He is also God, the creator of the universe and all the world around them.
On the personal level
Lastly, and at least important to me, was the personal testimony of one of the women at the church on Sunday. She grew up in a Muslim home, but married a Christian man who patiently witnessed to her. During a grievous sickness, while her husband prayed over her, she accepted Christ. She is now the mother to 5 kids, who frequent the ministry center. After telling us her story, she thanked us for taking the time, and showing enough interest in her town to help her children come to know more about Jesus and to have the opportunity to extend their education. This was a great affirmation for me, because I often do not get feedback from the nationals since much of my ministry is not directly to them, but to the missionaries serving them.
1 - Wanda, while playing pitcher the next weekend got hit on the upper arm, and received a nasty bruise that covers most of her upper right arm. It looks somewhat better this weekend, but is still quite painful. Please pray for quick and complete healing.
2 - Pray for a relatively quiet September. Randy has begun some of the server upgrades, and it would be good to be able to concentrate on some of that with few interruptions.
3 - Continued prayer for family unity. Also how to begin to release Chris to fulfill what the Lord has for him as an adult.
4 - October 11-18 Randy will be attending a SIM IT Conference in Charlotte, NC. Pray for safety in travel and wisdom for what and how to present SIM Niger's technical challenges, oportunities and issues.
5 - Sahel still has a critical need of a secondary math teacher. There are 2 people here covering for the short term, but need to return to their ministries, and the young man slated to come still need support to make the trip. Pray for God's provision for this need!
6 - The SIM Niger field is still in dire need of a accounting person. There is a couple coming next week, for almost a month to help, but we could use multiple people in month long roles, or one person who would be willing to commit a year or two. This is a huge need!
7 - The electricity in our campus has been of very low voltage for the last 2 weeks. In fact I am writing this in darkness since there is not enough voltage to start the fluorescent lights in our house. Sahel has purchased a transformer for the power that they feel will help this problem, but there are still governmental / electrical company papers that need to get signed before it can get hooked up and become functional.
8 - Another great thank you for those who have been helping us get caught up financially with support levels. We have not yet received numbers from August, but we will pass them along as they become available.
Randy Potratz and family
1 Corinthians 1:4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;