“I’ve tried to believe but when I step back and look at it all I just can’t. I’ve been struggling for at least 3 years now. Who is there to talk to about this sort of thing? I’m surrounded by churches but get nervous whenever I think about going into one to ask.”
Antonio, a university student in London left this message after visiting a Campus Crusade website called http://GodLovesTheWorld.com on 19 February 2006.
This week, I met Antonio, shook his hand, and heard his amazing story.
His story is not only amazing, but his story is increasingly less unique. There are thousands of stories like Antonio’s, and they are increasing!
Antonio’s plea for help was passed along to Roger, an on-line volunteer. Roger responded and recommended some verses to read and websites to visit. Soon he received the following message from Antonio: “Thank you very much for your reply. The sites you recommended were really useful. I found the ‘life stories’ section and interviews particularly interesting as I’ve actually had little insight into how becoming a Christian has affected others. I know it’s a very important step, the most important somebody can take, and it’s great to be able get help and talk to someone.”
Roger continued corresponding with Antonio. After a few more contacts, they exchanged mobile telephone numbers. After their first ‘live’ conversation, Roger sensed Antonio was ready to say an unreserved “Yes” to Jesus and encouraged him to go back to the original Gospel outline website and pray the prayer of commitment.
Here is the email he received from Antonio a few days later: “I just prayed the prayer on the site and am feeling truly overjoyed. I really tried to understand and get my head around how Jesus had suffered so much and died to save us and by the time I said the prayer I was feeling wholly undeserving. It was a surprise to feel such sudden joy after and that something had really changed. I understand now what you meant on the phone about it being the beginning of a great adventure because it really does feel like that now! Thank you so much for your help and guidance; a few weeks ago I couldn’t have imagined where I would be now!”
After several more email exchanges and telephone chats, Antonio agreed to meet Roger at a McDonald’s restaurant near his home. This visit resulted in the beginning of a genuine friendship and Roger was able to locate a good church close to Antonio. Not only did he find the worship services and sermons meaningful, but Antonio has gone on to join a Bible Study group made up of young adults in the congregation. Through Roger’s encouragement and the help of various websites, Antonio has started sharing his faith with others. Roger has introduced him to the local Agape university ministry staff in London and Antonio plans to get involved in city-wide student events in the autumn.
The “Roger” in this story is a long-time staff veteran of Campus Crusade for Christ and has lived in Europe for 20 years. This year, Roger and I met again at the Europe Internet ministry planning meeting in London last February. God is planting a passion and a vision for internet ministry in Roger. I’m excited!
We are beginning to get significant traction in Europe for the important role Internet ministry can play. A staff member from the Netherlands shared that more people came to Christ through their internet ministry last year than through their other field ministries. This same comment was made by a staff member from Germany. Now I will be among the first to say this is not necessarily an apples-to-apples comparison, but the fruitfulness of internet ministry is catching leadership attention.
In strategizing with the Campus Crusade Vice President for Europe, he commented that leaders around Europe want to bring a strong focus on internet ministry. I have met with several leaders and they are all excited about embracing internet ministry strategies to enhance their field ministries. They are seeing how it has a significant role to play in helping tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love.
My heart soars with joy over seeing our leaders as well as our field staff beginning to understand the tremendous opportunities God is giving us through this mission field called the internet. Now, on to Asia, Africa, Oceania, Latin America… It looks like Kay and will continue to travel the world for a while!
NOTE: I’ve uploaded photos from our trip here in England. They are a combination of trips into the surrounding areas as well as from the conference.