Publication date: 06/29/16

Help for the Asking

When you or I read the Bible, we have help. The very Author of Scripture is present with us, as I like to tell contacts. But what about newcomers to the Bible? Have you ever heard someone tell you they tried to read it, but it doesn’t make sense? I was surprised to find atheists encouraging people to read the Bible. To them, actually reading it should convince anyone that it’s a purely fictional work of unenlightened iron-age people. (This will come as quite a surprise to the daily Bible readers who receive this letter.)

While I (obviously) disagree that reading the Bible honestly is the route to atheism, I’m not surprised when people tell me they don’t understand it. Hearing an Ethiopian official reading Isaiah 53, Philip the evangelist asked him if he understood. “How can I,” the man responded, “unless someone guides me?

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It may seem like a minor difference: evangelization via app vs. Internet. Here’s how it compares to our standard method:

Normally, visitors use a search engine for the concern they feel most keenly: God, life-after-death, hope or meaning in general.

An ad like the above would show alongside search results. It links to a simple gospel presentation, where they can click to respond. We pair those who do with an “Online Missionary” volunteer, and the secure, private relationship between “OM” and outside contact is maintained through successive responses. Outside contacts only see “connect@godlife.com.” OMs only see the name the contact entered. No email addresses, phone numbers or Facebook accounts are shared.

With the Ask Bible app, all we know is that the contact has been searching for a Bible app for their phone and found ours. We can’t be sure they’ve read and understood the gospel message. We don’t have any clues about what brought them to the point of wanting to ask for help. One way of looking at it is that it’s even more likely these are true seekers asking for spiritual guidance instead of someone who came to us through a secondary concern and was arrested by the gospel message.

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What's different About evangelism via app?

That’s what our new Ask Bible App is designed to facilitate: connecting Christian Bible guides (online evangelists) with seekers. It’s written in Java ME and designed for the lower-end smartphones found all over the world. (Oracle claims 3 billion mobile phones run Java. Operating systems supporting Java ME apps include Nokia, Bada, Symbian, Windows CE, Windows Mobile, Maemo, MeeGo and Android - about 55% of the market.) While YouVersion is by far the most popular Bible app for Android and iOS users, (228,679,524 installs) we recognize not every mobile user can afford devices capable of running it.

But because it is an app, we can give users a way to ask questions. Someone in Islamabad, Pakistan wrote me today, and he needed the truth about Jesus, just like the Ethiopian eunuch did. “Tell me about Jesus,” he wrote. Just going on what he’s likely to have been taught, it’s important that he know that Jesus is not only a prophet, not only a worker of miracles or a great teacher, but God in human flesh, come to suffer the curse of death for us.

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Thank you! We know we could not be there for a Bible app reader in Islamabad without the consistent, faithful giving of ministry partners like you!

Contacts are a bit more likely, then, to come to us with a concern based on, or guided by, Bible content. Like the Ethiopian official, unless someone guides them, how can they know?

Love, in Christ,

Mike Skinner Cindy Skinner

One Day Closer!
Romans 13:11


Help for the Asking

When you or I read the Bible, we have help. The very Author of Scripture …