Long time readers of this blog will realise that for the last five or six summers I’ve been involved in a teenage Tech Camp run by the Presbyterian Church. [Bookings open for summer 2012!] In fact, this blog was originally set up as an experiment for a few months, to get a bit of experience and bluff my way at explaining how blogs worked at the second camp.
Many of the Tech Campers have gone on to use and refine their technical skills in their local congregations and beyond. Some have even ended up using them in paid employment.
On Wednesday 8 February at 8pm, a group of mission agencies are running a free information session in Rumours Café in Elmwood Avenue, Belfast. They don’t see technical skills and media manipulation being confined to the local church. At an event they’ve entitled God’s Digital World, they’d like to raise the profile of how IT and media skills can be used as part of God’s mission to his world.
The event’s open to anyone student aged and upwards, particularly those with a key interest and preferably good experience in IT or media work.
AiB: The classical view is that missionaries preach, teach, heal and even sometimes do agriculture training. What’s the relationship between mission and IT?
JH: Today's western world is so far advanced that it seems that in order to be 'in the world but not of it', we should also include the cyber world in that! No matter where you are, IT is important. How many companies have successfully used technology for profit? How much more could technology be used to further the Kingdom of God?
An IT specialist in Africa was attending a meeting of mother-tongue translators who had come from working in an area wracked by war. During their time together, he asked them to list the most difficult challenges they faced. The men compiled a long list of the difficulties and obstacles they faced doing translation work in a war zone. Then, each African translator was asked to vote for his top seven obstacles. When the votes were tallied, the civil war came near the top of the list - but it was the second. The number one hindrance on their joint list was the lack of computer support!
An executive in an international computer company who moved to a role with an international mission agency said something to the effect of: God invented computers for mission, but he lets the rest of the world use them!
AiB: Is this all about overseas service or are there other IT aspects too?
JH: Although there are abundant opportunities to use IT gifts overseas, there are also many opportunities at home too.
- Mobile SMS response network
- Remote software support and troubleshooting
- Writing content for websites
- Graphics designers can work from anywhere
- Opportunities for short trips to give both training and IT support
AiB: If people come along to Rumours Café on Elmwood Avenue that Wednesday evening, what will they see and hear?
JH: A variety of short presentations illustrating the variety of applications used in mission presented by members of the organizing agencies… AWM Pioneers, FEBA, Frontiers Media, Interserve, Pamir Productions, Sat 7, Wycliffe Bible Translators, WEC
Examples from people who have gone and dome it / presentations of the needs and opportunities worldwide.
AiB: There are an enormous number of mission organisations operating in Northern Ireland. What kind of groups do MAP represent?
JH: Mission Agencies Partnership (MAP) is a group of about forty five mission agencies who work together to promote the challenge of world mission and the opportunities for people to become involved in the mission mandate to the church.