(Photo: Kristen Whitney)
BANKOK, Thailand – After a month of severe flooding in Thailand, mass evacuations, and reports of more water coming, it’s hard to imagine anyone holding a global conference here. But that’s exactly what Campus Crusade’s MinistryNet team did last week.
MinistryNet 2011 is a niche group of men and women committed to building spiritual movements online to reach people with the Gospel. This year’s gathering attracted nearly 200 Campus Crusade leaders, staff, students, and technology experts from seven continents. Its focus: initiating decisions for Jesus Christ online and how to disciple beyond the digital realm.
As the lively hum of a dozen languages poured into the halls and the iPads ignited, it became clear that the only thing flooding into this conference would be a rush of collaboration.
“We talked to local authorities, made sure our location was secure, then prayerfully gave this conference a green light – this topic is that important to us,” said Rich Street, executive team member for Virtually Led Ministries for Campus Crusade. “Campus Crusade’s history is about sharing the gospel – it’s what we do. But things have changed. Much of the world is communicating online and we want to be there connecting and engaging the lost in the most relevant ways possible.”
Judy Douglass, who leads the organization alongside husband Steve Douglass, president and chairman of the Board for Campus Crusade for Christ International, trekked to MinistryNet to affirm its commitment to ignite virtually-lead spiritual movements.
“We have 7 billion people living on our planet today and only 2 billion have heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” said Judy. “We know if we are to reach the other 5 billion, the Internet may be the most powerful way to do that. We also know the world of social networking isn’t our Klout score (individual popularity online) – it’s about the opportunity to reach the whole world.”
Douglass noted the power of the Internet to dismantle political, social, and educational barriers that historically prohibit Christians from sharing the Gospel on a global scale.
“When the Romans built roads 2,000 years ago, it allowed Paul and the other disciples physical roads to get the Gospel from town to town,” said Judy. “The Internet is the Roman Road of today and the way that we [21st Century Christians] can carry the gospel to the ends of the earth.”
Restoring Thailand – One Click at a Time
Meeting in Bangkok was far from business as usual for the Campus Crusade team.
The rising waters in and around Bangkok demanded action. With more than 500 people dead and 800,000 homes and businesses affected, this flood is the most severe Thailand has seen in 50 years. Among those affected is Campus Crusade International staff workers on the ground. As many staffers set out to help the Thai people by delivering food, clothing, medicine, and comfort, many returned to find their own homes and churches underwater.
“Homes, cars, furniture, computers – you name it, our staff has lost it,” said Rich Street, executive team member for Virtually Led Ministries for Campus Crusade. “It’s amazing how one website can be shared and immediately, we are able to be the hands and feet of Christ to people on the other side of the world.”
The MinistryNet 2011 team quickly mobilized to deliver supplies by boat and raise relief funds online by creating “Helping the Helpers” a site to raise dollars to restore the homes and necessities of those ministering to the Thai people. For more information on how to help, go to: www.help.ministrynetconference.com.
According to the latest reports, all areas of inner Bangkok are still at risk of flooding over the next two weeks. However, if and when it comes, it is expected to be slow and not so deep. News reports suggest that inner Bangkok will be spared from severe flooding.