contagious compassion

Have A Heart

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.

In our book, @stickyJesus: how to live out your faith online, Senior Pastor Steve BergerGrace Chapel, Leipers Fork, TN) shared his story with us and today we share it here with you.

steve’s story

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.

the impact

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.

the outcome

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.

Post/Tweet this:

Wholehearted prayer ignites contagious compassion. Holding back is NOT an option. #LiveSticky

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  • Melinda Ysaguirre

    In my mother’s heart, I can’t imagine the condition of my world walking through the pain of losing a child, this story reminds me once again that God gives us our children on loan – someday we have to return them to their heavenly home.
    As the body of Christ, united compassionatley with one voice, one heart, we prayerfully come together to flip our pain for purpose. God is glorified. Always.
    Thank you, Berger family for sharing your testimony with us. Bless you.

  • Bill K.

    The internet my be God’s greatest idea ever. It would be difficult…no impossible to stamp out the on-line chorus of people spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. In the end, we all all charged with the same task of speaking out on the things that make for solid doctrine and we should understand that we reach nonbelievers one person at a time. Perhaps God is using the social networks to improve the odds of reaching them. I find it no coincidence that God has lead me to this site…I am using some of the things I am finding here and reposting them on my face book stuff. It is like a ripple on a pond…ever expanding out into the universe….who knows who will change a life.

  • Tami Heim

    Bill – Thanks for joining the conversation. Our heart is to amplify the sound of the chorus by expanding the population of it. We’ve been blessed by the many one-on-one connections made-all born from our social media passion to increase kingdom influence.. We praise God the count continues to grow and the vision is spreading! What we do, we do all for Him.

    Your are right – we will never fully know the impact of our ripples, but one thing we do know – God knows.
    Welcome to the choir and for all influence you will have as a digital scribe in such a time as this!

  • Tami Heim

    Thanks for sharing straight from your heart,Melinda. When the body of Christ unites in prayer – everything changes. I think of all the miracles we’ve seen as we’ve traveled to the throne together. AWE-God.

    I know we may not find our way to the answers we want when we go, but we alway s find our way to heart of God. Once there – all things work together for good and His Glory. We are inspired by Steve and Sarah Berger because of their courageous example, willingness to share, and determination to make it all count for eternity. Please continue to pray for them.. And Melinda – LYI

  • Anonymous

    This story has tatooed itself on my heart. I’ve read Steve’s book three times and purchased it for everyone I know who has had to say good-bye (for now) to a loved one. I’m thankful that Twitter was a channel for this precious family and mobilzed global prayer in such a critical time.

    I keep a prayer journal for those I’m praying for in my online community. It’s a serious thing to say you will pray for someone. God wil hold us accountable for the promises we make. Right now I’m praying A LOT for Joanne Heim and her family. I don’t know them but through prayer, I feel very close to them. I see God’s hand moving greatly every day in this situation. Here’s her amazing story as updated by her husband @TobenHeim: http://thesimplewife.typepad.com/. There’s constant updates and even a tab for giving to the family, which I can’t wait to do. It’s amazing to me how God connects HIS family online.

    He will not call you to pray for everyone but He will call you to pray for someone. Keep your heart open wide.

  • Anonymous

    OK Bill – I’m stealing that quote today and will RT. “The Internet may be God’s greatest idea ever.” You rock!

  • http://www.deepintolove.com/ Craig S.

    A twitter world wide prayer chain – God tech – beautiful. A heaven revolution.

    I don’t think we met at Blissdom. I so wish I did.

    Thank you for this.
    God Bless

  • Anonymous

    Craig: Awww. Would have LOVED to meet you at #Blissdom. Oh well, we always have Twitter — I’ll go stalk you now! Ha! Please keep in touch and do come back and chime in. We are the body—mobilized—online for His name.

  • Bill K.

    I am glad you liked it…I posted one of the 3 word posts that was posted yesterday so I think we are even 😉 …It is amazing how 3 words changed the tone of what was being posted on face Book at that time….I am planning to do it on a regular basis cause it is so much fun to watch…..There is a lot going on with me right now and I am sure the hand of God is behind all of it! Logging on to the internet will never be quite the same for me from this point on. If we lift each other up, we can all ascend together!

  • Anonymous

    Keep singing that song Bill and God will be glorified in the time you spend online! I am also keen on the three word posts. They can really be neon signs that point to the heart of Christ. They are great for turning a conversation around and making a point. His.Word.Reigns.

    We are here for you in your ministry, just give us a nudge and let us know how we can help. Togther. We’re. Better.

  • Melinda Ysaguirre

    Thank you for reminding me to pray for Steve and Sarah…
    And Tami-LYI

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