Dear Family and Friends:

With one study showing that the average user spends 7 hours a day there, it may be one of the 21st Century’s biggest time-wasters. It can be a place of envy and dissatisfaction, unhealthy fantasy, gossip or just idle game-playing. For hackers and identity thieves, it can provide access to the personal information of unwary users. For “cyber-bullies,” it can be a platform to hound the vulnerable.

It’s also the world’s largest community of online users. At 1.1 billion, it would be the world’s 3rd largest country. It supports rapid exchange of information and media content with selected friends, simply enough for computer beginners to learn. It has made the headlines with stories of long-lost family members reconnecting with one another. It provides a connecting point for Bible study groups. It gives Christians an inoffensive place to proclaim their faith. (See our February letter’s story about “T” in Vietnam)

Of course, I’m talking about Facebook.

I was part of the content team and helped plan outreach strategy as we launched or Facebook page in 2011. By September, we had reached 13,000 “fans.” Today, we’re at 1.5 million. As fans began to message the page, we admins couldn’t keep up. We have had real concerns about how peer-to-peer Facebook response could make a way for malicious visitors to harm other visitors or volunteers. To prevent that, we created a bridge from Facebook to our secure ARC response system. So I now lead about 160 volunteers in six communities who are anonymously answering messages from our Facebook page,
Some exciting things about this response channel:

  • Facebook users' numbers are growing faster than email users - especially on mobile platforms, among young users and in the third world.
  • Facebook users are more responsive - a few years ago, Facebook merged their “chat” and “message” functions; so they expect more two-way communication.
  • • Our Facebook fans are already used to receiving spiritual encouragement from us - their questions and comments are inspired by the biblical advice they’re already receiving from us.
  • We can’t expect that our Facebook fans have already read a gospel presentation - they’re not connecting with us by filling out a decision form, the way our evangelistic site visitors do.

That last point excites me because it gives an opportunity for our volunteers to grow in intentional evangelism. Their communication to the visitor might be the visitor’s first time to read the authentic gospel message. We are working with the volunteers to help them learn flexible approaches that are sufficiently thorough and personal. It’s a way of “discipling” the “disciple-makers,” so that we can all be better “fishers of men.”

Finally, I also love the irony. This is how God works, bringing light out of darkness. “God has chosen the foolish things of the world, ...the weak things, to shame the strong.” (1 Corinthians 1:27) What has been used for evil, God means for good. I think most of us believers can say that about ourselves, and not just about our circumstances. His strength is made perfect in our weakness; so “now, let the weak say, ‘I am strong.’” (Joel 3:10) Thanks for your confident prayers for this and other new avenues of outreach!

P.S., Last week, we received updates from California ministry partners Danny and Kathie Skaggs. Kathie suffered a serious fall down the stairs in their home, breaking both ankles, and is in a lot of pain. Please lift them up in your prayers, for a successful surgery and a quick recovery!

Love, in Christ,


Mike & Cindy
One Day Closer! (Romans 13:11)

P.S. See our latest family photos here!

Download a copy of this letter in for Acrobat Reader (PDF) here.