Publication date: 03/07/22

Modern Information Technology in Warfare

Global Media Outreach’s staff meets via videoconference each day for prayer. OK, it’s a little awkward when signal lag makes you jump in as somone else is beginning their own prayer, but we manage. There’s no better way for a distributed team like ours to pray together.

In the past week, our concerns have centered around Russia’s war on Ukraine.

We have five active volunteers in Ukraine and 14 in Russia, including staff members. Like us, believers on both sides of this conflict are horrified at Russia’s aggression. Some of our Ukrainian volunteers have small chidren. At least one couple is expecting. Staying in the country means sleeping in bathrooms or bomb shelters, and leaving is also a harrowing ordeal.

We’d appreciate your prayers for them!

Could we expect an increase in visitors from Ukraine? Might the personal danger and damaged infrastructure mean a simultaneous impairment of our ability to answer them? Historically, Ukraine has not been in the top 20 countries for GMO gospel visits. (It’s #32 in the world by population.) It has been in the top four for the past several days, currently outpacing Indonesia and Pakistan. We’re concerned about our ability to answer anxious Ukrainian seekers promptly at this crucial time. In answer to Mykhailo Fedorov’s (Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister) request, Elon Musk has supplied his Starlink service and equipment to Ukraine to keep the country’s Internet working.

Beyond the immediate threat, you may be wondering, as we are, what will be the outcome of this conflict? Could a new “curtain” of restriction fall over Eastern Europe?

Russia has shut down their own citizens’ access to Facebook and Twitter, perhaps in recognition of the role communication like Fedorov’s has already played in the war. (And many corporations are cutting off service to Russia as I write this.) The flimsy “denazification” pretext for the invasion has been universally rejected, even if Putin’s calculation that the west would not stage a military intervention has paid off so far. In warfare, propaganda and disinformation is a powerful tool, and, like China and North Korea, Russia doesn’t take kindly to the potential for grassroots opposition that social media presents.

For us, it’s ironic, since we see so much disinformation in the spiritual war. The very platforms being shut down by totalitarian governments are often themselves complicit in deplatforming, shadowbanning or otherwise suppressing viewpoints with which they do not agree.

As depressing as it sounds, this tendency seems likely to increase, as it’s become accepted, even among democratic leaders, to silence voices that do not fit the prevailing narrative. Who could have predicted what has been happening in Canada and Australia? Who would have thought America would be so divided as we are in 2022?

Will this eventually extinguish dissent and homogenize opinion? Or will it backfire and result in a groundswell of opposition to totalitarian aggression wherever it originates? The world is at a crossroads. My hope is that there will be another great spiritual awakening.

After reading the responses to a recent survey of our Online Missionaries, I know I’m not alone. We asked:

  • Describe how you got involved with Global Media Outreach.
  • How have you grown spiritually as a result of working with others?
  • What has been the most impacting connection you have made?

Responses continue to come in. I’ll share some of these answers in future letters, but for now, suffice it to say, reading them was a much-needed encouragement. Many of our volunteers are retired or disabled, and many, if not most, have been involved with us for more than 10 years. Their testimonies, their vision for using the Web to reach the world for Jesus, are inspiring. I gained a new appreciation of how many lives have been permanently changed by our ministry, and I’m not just referring to those of the Contacts.

These testimonies are powerful reminders faithful action, not stagnation and self-interest, are the route to positive change. While there is still such vast opportunity to do so, we’re called to this work of harvest. Were we all a little naïve to think the mere existence of a worldwide network would lead to greater freedom, more reliable information, and expanding liberty? In hindsight, maybe—but as long as it’s still possible to globally share the gospel 24/7 and to connect seekers with trained follow-up, the 18-year collective track-record of these testimonies demonstrates that God can and will use it to grow His Kingdom and bring individuals to faith.

Here’s another reflection from a review of these survey results: we’ve been at this for a pretty long time! The world has changed, and not in a good way. It made me deeply grateful, (and frankly awed), at those who have been so faithful to serve with us—and that includes you! Sharing in the rewards together forever is something we’re looking forward to with increasing anticipation. Thank you, for your prayers, for your gifts, that are used by God to make your work possible!

Love, in Christ,

Mike Skinner Cindy Skinner

One Day Closer!
Romans 13:11