We’ve challenged you to pay attention to others who may be hurting online—to see the “post behind the post” and the “tweet behind the tweet.” Still, you may not be confident that if you reach out that you could in fact be a lifesaver for another person. You might be asking yourself right now, “Me? A source of hope? Can God really use me to change the course of a person’s life?”
Here’s a powerful story about someone who did just that . . .
In our book, @stickyJesus: how to live your faith out online, we tell the stories of people intentional about reaching out and making a Kingdom impact in their social networks. Here’s one of those stories from our good friend, Pastor Richie Underhill, who is an area director with Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
When I created an account on Facebook, as a pastor, I immediately realized the possibilities of ministry. I was able to see faces, words, updates . . . and a field white for harvest. God had put people in my path from my past and my present and had allowed me incredible—and what I viewed as divine—access into so many remarkable hearts and minds. Some people see mere updates, tweets, or posts, but I see something entirely different.
Direct Message: “Help is on the way.”
For months I loved getting reacquainted, listening, and responding to old and new friends. After several months of building and rebuilding relationships online, someone I had known in high school posted a very dark, ominous statement in her status update. Having served as a corporate chaplain for eight years, I knew this situation could get very serious, very quickly. So I immediately sent her a private message on Facebook and put in the subject line: “Help is on the way.” I then wrote in the body of the message: “Hey, Katie [name has been changed] call me anytime . . . I mean it . . . I have a lot of experience dealing with these issues . . . take me up on my offer!”
She responded within an hour, telling me thanks but I would not understand. She also said that she felt awkward because she had known me in her past and had trouble seeing me as a minister. However, one advantage of online ministry is the ability to express and share a bit more freely and quickly than a face-to-face encounter.
In this case, being online was on my side. After some reassuring dialogue, Katie felt safe enough to give me a chance to help her and began to share her situation. She revealed that her husband had recently caught her in multiple cybersex relationships and wanted to end their marriage immediately. She felt her life was over, and she could no longer live with the consequences of her actions. She was in a desperate state of mind. That intense conversation turned into six solid days of dialogue via Facebook direct messages, resulting in renewed hope in a very troubled woman.
consistency + honest dialogue = hope
By God’s grace and a consistently transparent online dialogue, Katie and her husband are still together, and she is making daily progress desiring to know the Savior who died for her.
Other situations arise on Facebook that look fairly casual but evolve to something deeper. Jesus called His followers to be fishers of men, so quite often I go fishing on Facebook. I really do care about the people in my online communities, and I’m constantly looking for ways to share the hope of Christ that possesses my own heart.
God has called you and equipped you. You are more than qualified. Today is the day of salvation. Are you ready? #LiveSticky.
Have you had an opportunity to reach out and share Christ with anyone online? What counsel can you give others seeking to do the same?