Crafting a tool for the next 15 years

When I arrived at Campus Crusade’s New Staff Training in 2003, I discovered that a passage through which God spoke to me was actually quite a common one for people joining the organization.

“See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft. (Exodus 31:2–5)

The way it was worded caught my attention. I believe the experience of being Spirit-filled is primarily something for New Testament believers, but in fact Bezaleel is introduced as the first man said to be filled with the Spirit of God. Maybe not in the permanent, sealing, down-payment way a New Testament believer is indwelt, but there’s still a list of fruit from this indwelling. It’s a description of the way wisdom, understanding and knowledge works out in artistry and craftsmanship to design and engineer the tools and implements of the Tabernacle.

It seems God sometimes calls people skilled in the “use of means” (as William Carey, the father of modern missions, might say) by getting them to recognize that there are spiritual applications for a number of different technical interests.

It may seem kind of abstract, but the everyday tools of information technology are our ministry’s “means.” Like Moses’ tablets and Paul’s scrolls, they’re our way of sharing God’s Word with the world.

We started working on a complete re-write of the central tool of our ministry in February. I first asked for prayer for PATH in our January prayer letter. A lot of progress has been made since then, and we’re getting close to beta testing time! I’ll be leading the testing groups, so I’ve been thinking about some basic responsibilities of our Online Missionaries and how they can be compared to the way tools are used in the Bible. I hope it will help give direction to our prayers for their development and how they’ll assist our Online Missionaries in making the transition by illustrating the abiding nature of the work while reminding us all how improved tools make us more effective.

ThumbnailScrolls: Our ARC response system has never had an embedded Bible. (Shown, below, in PATH) Online Missionaries have had to use their own Bible software or sites like BibleGateway or BlueLetterBible. By embedding the YouVersion Bible right in the page, we give web users access to its 2,007 translations in 1,362 languages, as well as its over 800 reading plans.

Rod & staff: We’re adding useful detail into our discipleship tracking tools, whose categories also serve to remind Online Missionaries of important things they should be srod&staffharing with contacts, such as: assurance of salvation, the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, Bible reading, prayer, church attendance and evangelism.

ThumbnailArk: Security has always been a major concern for our ministry. This is even more critical in today’s world of high-profile data breaches.

reedReed (measuring rod): As a ministry we regularly provide statistics on the people we reach, but there are also detailed measurements we use for the sake of improving our own ministry. Restructuring our contact database should give us new ways of analyzing our ministry and determining the practices associated with the most success.

ThumbnailKey: ARC was designed with only email in mind. In 2013, we added Facebook and SMS, regularly importing messages as email-like messages. PATH will be designed from the ground up to support email, Facebook, SMS and WhatsApp as well as live chat, in a secure yet more-modern interface more conducive to their interactive features.

jawbone

Jawbone: When it comes to internal communication between Online Missionaries or messages from leaders to Online Missionaries, our ARC system has been limited to the “ARC Homepage” and integrated helpdesk with solution documents. Communication mostly takes place outside the system via personal email, telephone or videoconferencing. PATH integrates internal communication, making it possible for us to create special interest groups and make ministry specialists available to coach others. We’re expecting this to be a big hit for our volunteers, since it will make real community possible for sharing, learning and encouragement.

PATH-screen
PATH screen showing integrated Bible
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I thought I’d close with a picture illustrating leading-edge technology: from 2004, when ARC was introduced, and today! We sincerely appreciate your prayers that this project will be successful and useful for a similarly long period of time! Thank you for your vital friendship, support and prayers!

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