Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
II Corinthians 4:16, NIV
Have you figured out yet the skies are alive with revelation and God’s purposes rolling out over wireless networks? Every day, people arise in the church with a message of hope, and social networks have fit nicely into God’s plan. Part of the plan includes God mobilizing His people to strengthen and support each other.
When Vanderbilt Medical Center was on the other end of the phone, my wife, Sarah, and I knew it wasn’t good news. In Nashville, Vanderbilt is where the difficult cases go. We had many calls summoning us to Vanderbilt to comfort and help people in our congregation (Grace Chapel) and other friends. This time it was our turn.
Three days after the call from Vanderbilt, on his nineteenth birthday, we released our son Josiah Berger to heaven. The story, and what God taught us through this trial, is captured in our book Have Heart: Bridging the Gulf between Heaven and Earth.
There was an immediate whirlwind surrounding this event. The staff at Vanderbilt Medical Center said they had never seen anything like it in all their years of operation. Hundreds of people began showing up at the hospital as the news of Josiah’s accident began to circulate. And more were on their way by the time the first morning rolled around. People were everywhere—on the floor, in the chairs, and on the steps of the small chapel altar.
the body mobilizes
How did these people get the news about Josiah?
Certainly by traditional means, but by far, many people came as a result of social media, especially Twitter and Facebook. Plus, tens of thousands were “present” because of these tools and the regular updates they found on their friends’ pages and within the hashtag stream. The power of social media, people’s circle of friends, and technology came together and provided constant news about Josiah and our family.
The Twitter “hashtag” system of aggregating—or separating out a particular Twitter topic—became an important element in distributing news. The hashtag #JosiahBerger was used by hundreds of on-site people to constantly update others around the world. Tweeting (and retweeting) spread the news as close to instant as possible.
Talk about a worldwide prayer chain—our family had people everywhere not just concerned about Josiah, but actively praying and supporting us all as a result of hashtag and other regular updates!
Josiah has a Facebook page, and people continued to comment on his page just to feel close (and to express their support) to him and to us during the three-day vigil.
Social networking, in this instance, tremendously helped people feel a part of this incredible story. It provided, in real time, nearly instant access for people to be involved, lend their support, and come alongside us, even if those people were halfway around the world.
Facebook continues to be a channel as friends write loving thoughts to Josiah on his wall. With the release of our book, we’ve created a Have Heart Web site that includes a Ning community. The independent social network is housed on the site and is a member forum that allows people all over the world to come together digitally and share their stories of heaven and dive deeper into their collective understanding. The daily revelations shared by people, many of whom we’ve never met, continue to amaze us.
It’s no secret. We believe Josiah’s passing to heaven was God’s divine green light to Sarah and me to change the game; to remove the intense sorrow, cultural tradition, and, yes, even the dreadful, finite language that has come to define the end of someone’s earthly life.
We want to ignite in others a passion for what God’s Word says about heaven so they, too, can receive and live daily in that incredible hope. Social networking will continue to play a part in igniting a heaven revolution and communicating God’s truth about eternity to others online.
Are you currently praying for someone, or something you connected with online? Tell us and we’ll stand in agreement with you.
Wholehearted prayer ignites contagious compassion. Holding back is NOT an option. #LiveSticky