Posted November 27th, 2007 by E. Goodman
How are you involved in international missions? In the past, mission agencies gave you three options: pray, give, or go. Hopefully, you’re doing at least one of these things.
I’d like to invite you to a fourth way to participate in what God is doing around the world. You may not be aware of this, but there is a way for you to build a personal relationship with an unbelieving person from an unreached people group that is free, requires no training or time off work, and doesn’t require you to learn another language.
You can be a pen pal.
Thankfully, the internet has taken the old idea of corresponding with a complete stranger on another continent and made it, well, faster, cheaper, and more fun. Here’s how you can get started:
1. Visit an international classifieds website like kijiji.com, craigslist.org, or tribe.net
or a social networking site like facebook.com, myspace.com, or any of the hundreds of similar sites listed here.
Classified sites tend to be a bit easier to manage (London’s gumtree.com, for example, actually has a section titled “pen pals.”) and are especially good if you already have an idea of what people group or city you’d like to connect with. For now, let’s assume you’re using kijiji.com.
2. Scroll to the bottom of the site, and select the local site of your desired country. Many countries have classified ad sites, but it people in Western Europe are so web-connected, these countries are a great place to find someone who is likely to correspond with you.
3. Register a username and password, if necessary.
4. Search through the classified ads to find someone with whom you have something in common. Amateur authors in Wales? A guitar player in Spain? How about moms in Dublin?
5. Post a response to an ad. Or, post an ad of your own. Maybe you’d like to swap recipes with someone in Basel or find a pen pal in Berlin who likes NASCAR. (Good luck with that one). Just be yourself! Remember: for you, this may be a strange and frightening way to make friends, but for them, meeting people online is a pretty normal thing to do.
6. Wait for someone to answer your ad. Many of theses sites will email you when you receive a response. Be sure to keep security in mind as you introduce yourself and get to know the person. Don’t make promises you won’t be able to keep.
7. Share life with your new friend. Don’t treat this as a confrontational evangelism tool- let the person get to know you. For many Western Europeans, you may be the only practicing believer with whom they’ve had contact. Even those who know about Jesus are unlikely to have seen life in Christ lived out before them. They need to hear what a follower of Jesus thinks about all sorts of things. Tell your stories. Listen to theirs. Send photos. Have a voice conversation on Skype. You may eventually get to meet your pen pal in person some day.
Now, this isn’t for everyone. If you’re the type who can’t stand to talk with someone with whom you disagree, please don’t bother. If you’re not willing or able to personally invest in a “virtual friend,” this isn’t for you.
I think there are a lot of believers out there who didn’t even know this is an option. I imagine many of you that don’t have the time or money or desire to go on a mission trip may be intrigued my the idea of meeting someone online for the sake of sharing life intentionally.
Who knows? God may use you to start an online church planting movement.
Filed under:Internet, Ministry, Missions, Relationships