Frontline Missions – Geography vs. Methodolgy

I’m often asked how eDOT fits into the greater structure of Greater Europe Mission. Are we an IT department supporting our headquarters? Are we some sort of rogue group operating independently? The confusion stems from the fact that traditionalmissionaries are often called to a specific people group in a specific area. Together, missionaries in that area are then defined in the organizational term of “field” (the German field, the French field, etc.).

In modern missions, many people are just called to a specific people group (sans the specific area). If you’re called to reach out to Iranians, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re called to Iran. Instead, you might be called to go to France to reach the Iranian migrants there. To reach Arabic speakers, your calling might be to Sweden.

A new type of mission has emerged. Mission strategies today need to move beyond the thought process of defining missionaries by geographical calling and ministry to certain people groups in order to incorporate the concept of methodology. With methodology in mind, we look at fairly global methodologies and develop teams that specialize in these areas. Examples of cross-cultural methodologies are: video & film, art, micro-financing, and technology. For further example: a video in Turkish could have serious impact in Turkey. It could also have an impact on the approximately four million Turks in Germany and the nearly one million Turks in France. This major Gospel impact is accomplished through the missional use of the methodology offilm.

Understanding the different types of missions will help answer our original question: how does eDOT fit into the greater structure of Greater Europe Mission? We are neither an IT department nor a rogue group operating independently of our organization. We are this third option; we are a methodology based team. As a methodology based team, we do not focus on just one location or one people group; we focus on many cultures in many locations – but we focus on ONE method with which to reach them all. It is an exciting time for those in the methodology world to contribute and join with those in the traditional mission world, as all missions are focused on God’s transforming of individual people through the message of the Gospel.

Our methodology:
Technology has been growing in its impact on cultures around the globe at an incredibly accelerated rate. The potential to impact lives for Kingdom purposes via this method is great. At eDOT, our focus is on creating “Aha!” moments on a person’s journey in a life in Christ utilizing technology.

[Originally posted at GEMeDOT.com]
CC image courtesy of Hans Splinter | Changes made

Code as Art / as Speech

I’m an artist. Can I paint or sculpt or draw? Not really. When I do these things, what comes out would require a lot of interpretation on behalf of the viewer to figure out what it is. No, my artistry comes out as I write computer code. With eDOT, the software that I get to program expresses what it is I want to say to this world. It’s reflective of my beliefs, my opinions, and my values. It relates to others what I feel.

Currently, Apple is fighting a court order asked for by the FBI to write code that goes against their values and belief. The basis of their argument is that being asked to write this code is “coerced speech” or that it’s forcing them to publicly state something that goes against what they stand for. As an American, I’ve grown up with a deep value that we’re entitled to the freedom of speech, the freedom to express our beliefs and values. Apple’s appeal is that by forcing them to write code contrary to their ethos, the US Government is denying them their right to freedom of speech. In other words, Apple says that their code is speech and that to force them to say otherwise within the US, denies them the rights given to them by the US Constitution.

Art has always been viewed as a way of expressing one’s beliefs and has been repeatedly protected by the Freedom of Speech part of the Bill of Rights. Coding is an art form. My hope through this whole debate is that people view coding not as some cold, calculated instruction list but as the creative expression of those that create it. That coding is recognized as another form of art in this technology age.

Would you like to be an artist on our team? We’re looking for coders and other technology artists.


“THIS IS PRIVATE! YOUR EYES ONLY!”

Let’s face it – most of us claim to be “technology ignorant”.  We have no problem spending hours a day on our mobile phones texting, talking, or using apps, but we don’t know what makes it all work. We’ll send emails to people and tell them “THIS IS PRIVATE!”, but who else might be reading these emails? Is our information really safe? Do we know the risks? Do we know how to make ourselves “less unsecure”?

This is an issue for everyone, as we don’t want identity theft. But for missionaries working with people groups that are … let’s say … “not enthused” with the spreading of the Gospel, their concerns are much greater. It’s not so much that they fear for themselves, but they must protect those they are ministering. This is why eDOT has been working with technology experts – people who really know how all these different pieces of technology work – to have times of education and consultation with these cross-cultural workers so they can better be prepared to communicate in more secure ways.

We have partnered with MAF to develop a basic “Computer Security Essentials & You” online course which is good for everyone including workers in sensitive areas, but also those who sit in US coffee shops using their computer.  Be sure to check it out:

Computer Security Essentials & You
10 Module Self-Paced Online Course
Topics: Security Risks, Passwords, Web Browser, Surfing Habits, Email,
Wi-Fi, Encryption, Malware/Viruses/Phishing, and Digital Security Issues

Originally Published on GEMeDOT.com

 


God Encounters

I find that conversations are a natural part of life – whether it’s with family, friends or someone you’ve just met. Many times these conversations are an exchange of ideas or stories about things in life. Everyday stuff like; kids, your spouse, jobs, technology (yeah, it’s what I do), sports, current events. But sometimes, in the midst of the conversation, I feel this nudge down deep inside me. This nudge to level up the conversation. A nudge that says, “This person needs to experience Jesus more fully.” I call these moments “God Encounters”.   And they can’t be forced or contrived. So you ask, “Yeah, I’ve felt that nudge but how…?  How can I go from listening to (fill in the blank here) to talking about how to find/see/feel/experience God in the midst of that.

I can share what I’ve found works for me. Most conversations happen in the context of telling stories.  People normally don’t blurt out – “I’m struggling with my job,” but they’re telling a story about something that happened at work that they’re trying to come to grips with. Therefore, responding with a story in return is very natural.  I’ve got my own stories about struggling at work. But how is that creating a God Encounter?  It’s when you intentionally link your story with something God did. This is usually called a testimony.  It’s not necessarily about how you decided to follow Jesus, but it’s always about how Jesus has and is working in your life.  The key is that He is the star of the story, not you.

“Ok,” you say, “I think I could do that”… but here’s the tough part… This requires you to be humble and vulnerable.Something we often have a hard time with. Humble in that you’re not the hero in your story – God is. And vulnerable in that you’re revealing a weakness, where you needed God to make it better.

Depending on your personality, you may or may not be the kind of person that opens up on this level. I would encourage you to just match the level of the person you’re talking to. That’s what they are doing in their story – they’re revealing that they’re struggling and don’t know where to turn? You’re just being the same as them only you’re revealing the missing part of their story – that God engages with our stories, our valleys and our peaks, if they will only let Him.

I often have this secret fear that when I share something about God, that people will start to get aggressive or something. But in my experience I’ve found that when we share personal stories of how God has entered into my own challenges, it’s difficult for people to dispute it – after all, it is our experience. If it is a person that the Holy Spirit is already working in, they usually really connect with what I’m sharing. If I find resistance, then pull back a bit. There’s no need to force the issue. We’re just looking for the open doors that God has already created, and is just asking us to step through.

Sometimes we don’t have a personal story to share. At these times, I recommend sharing the greatest story of all – the Gospel story. This is the story from the beginnings of creation to Jesus Christ coming to reconnect us with our heavenly father through his death and resurrection. We call it the “Creation to Christ” story (or C2C Story for short). If you’re not sure how you would tell this story, we’ve created a smartphone app to help teach you the story and gives you visuals to be there when you present the story.  Check it out at http://C2CStory.com

But whether it’s your personal stories or the C2C Story that you’re going share, take the time to practice telling these stories before hand. You want to be able to present them in a confident and natural way.


Our App Development Process

phoneMobiles are the present and future of technology for ministry.

With that in mind, eDOT has been steadily increasing its presence into this realm over the past several years. We began by looking at how to harness text messaging for ministry follow-up and interactions, moved to “mobile first” web design, and we are now designing smartphone apps.

However, smartphone apps are not cheap. Even the smallest, most simplistic app can cost at least $3,000 to $8,000 to make. These apps are generally in one language and don’t require a BaaS (Backend as a Service) or database. More complex apps cost between $50,000 to $150,000 – or higher.*

Our eDOT team is small, and our funding is limited. But we see the huge need for apps that encourage and accelerate evangelism and discipleship. Therefore, we could not be deterred from entering into the world of app development.

First we figured out some of our needs:

  • Apps needed to be for both iOS and Android with the possibility of other platforms as the demographics grew (like Windows 8)
  • The learning curve couldn’t be too great for our programmer (right now we only have 1 full time programmer)
  • We did not want to have to code in more than one programming language (so coding separately for each platform was out)

In our preliminary research, we discovered a mobile development framework called Phonegap (now open sourced as Cordova). This is a “wrapper” system that takes a mobile “website”, usually programmed in HTML and JavaScript, and “wraps” it into a native app for each desired platform. This was the result we wanted.

Initially, we began using Jquery Mobile to develop our mobile web apps. While it is a powerful and relatively easy framework to work with, it just didn’t have everything we wanted. It was then recommended to us by several different developers in the secular world that we look at Sencha Touch.

We’ve begun using Sencha Touch and are really liking its versatility. You can see our first published app at C2CStory.com. Here we created a type of Bible tract app that allows users to tell the story from Creation to Christ using visuals and a set script which is currently in 3 languages (English, French & Turkish).  We’re continuing to build on this app with several more in the works.

(Originally written for GEMeDOT.com)

* – http://www.astegic.com/cost-to-develop-a-mobile-app


How many languages do you know?

I Speak GeekWhen you live overseas and travel a lot, the common question is “So how many languages do you know?” My answer is normally “Zero” because as I travel I realize how little I really know my mother tongue, English.

But my other answer is sometimes “Six – English, German, PHP, JavaScript, Basic, C++, and LotusScript (but it’s been a while for the last three). Throw in a little French, Spanish, Portugesse, Russian, HTML5/CSS, Java and pieces of a few others.”

Additionally, I get asked the question, “So what language do you program in? English or German?”  Well, code is code.  It’s its own language but usually does draw from English.  Normally I do document my code in English as that is the unofficial international business language of programmers however if I know the only other programmers that will look at it are German, then I try to document in German.

But in the end, the reality is that I speak “Geek”!


Live for her like Christ lived for the Church

I Love My Wife
I Love My Wife

Growing up, my dad stressed to me that the greatest thing a husband can do is to love his wife like Christ loves the church.  As men, our minds go to the heroic thing of Christ dying on the cross – giving the ultimate sacrifice – out of love for all people including the church.  Most of us men would say that if it came to a situation, we know we’d “take a bullet” for our wives.  Just look at the testimonies of several women in the Colorado movie theater whose men covered them to save them from the flying bullets of a disturbed man.  This is what it means to love our wives like Christ loved the church – to be willing to die for her.

But is that all it means?  Does it not also mean that we are called to “live” for her as well?  Jesus came to earth to live a life here on earth.  He had some wonderful times like going to weddings and having feasts.  But He also endured the pains of life.  With all the distance that He travelled in His life, there had to be times that He said to the disciples, “Hold it, I’ve got to get this pebble out of my shoe – it’s really irritating me!”  He had to process rejection by His family and betrayal by friends.  His disciples didn’t always “get” Him nor did they always understand His methods.

However through this all, He loved His church – His bride.  When He saw 5000 people hungry, He didn’t send them away even though He was tired and hungry Himself.  Instead He had compassion and fed them with what little He had. When His disciples kept “not getting it” and remained thinking in ways that were not His ways, He lovingly continued to speak with them and lived in ways that showed what He was about.  He gave up His temporal wants and desires of a life lived His way for His ultimate desire – intimate relationship between His church and Himself which could only be done through living in God’s will. And isn’t that to be our ultimate desire in our marriages?  An intimate relationship with our wives that is reflective of our relationship with God the Trinity!

How does this look and play out in “real” life?  We’re not Jesus (the perfect man) but if “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”(Galatians 2:20a NIV), then we are called to live out Christ in us.  That means that we follow His examples.  Practically speaking (cuz we’re guys), when we come home from a long day of work tired and exhausted to a wife saying “Do you know what YOUR child did?”, have compassion with her that she too is tired and exhausted and, just as Jesus fed the 5000, listen to her and help satisfy her needs.  When there’s a sense of rejection or betrayal, be forgiving just as Jesus was (James his brother became one of Jesus’ biggest cheerleaders) When you’re not being understood, live out Christ in you so that your response is telling or showing in a different way that reveals who you really are – a follower of Christ.

Not only being willing to die for your wife is loving her as Christ loves the church but making the decision every day to live for her as Christ lived for the church, will eventually make almost any woman love and respect you.