This past week, I got to spend some awesome time with other people who understand what its like to be a computer geek in the missions world at the ICCM-Europe conference. It was really nice to have conversations about geeky stuff without people looking really bored or like you were speaking in a different language (even though we had about 9 different native languages represented at the conference). Even more special about it was that we could talk about IT stuff but in the context of missions where issues like “how much sand does it take to destroy a laptop” or “how do you get connectivity to a computer in the middle of no where on a very limited budget” are common discussions. Honestly, its a relief to have been in a place we everyone speaks your language (and I don’t mean English).
I was actually one of the conference speakers where I got to speak about using Moodle to create communities of learners not just in the academic worlds but for all sorts of education such as Bible study groups, discipleship training, church leader training, etc. But the highlight for me was probably the TFM (Technology for Missions) contest. With the urging of a couple of co-workers who were with me, I explained in both a technical terms and in Kingdom impact terms how eDOT is using laptops with various peripherals configured in a particular way to teach basic computer skills in a way that draws people into the local churches. This concept we call Mobile Outreach Centers (MOC). This small network of laptops uses a wireless router, hard driving imaging, a slew of open source software, USB keyboards and mice to be able to teach people who’ve never seen a computer before how to type, use the mouse, basic word process skills, basic graphic design, and even how to use email and surf the web safely. All of this with equipment that is easy to maintain, fits into two boxes that can be carried in the back of a small car and doesn’t even need Internet access (we have a web server and email server running on one of the laptops). In our teaching, we use Scripture where ever possible and encourage our teachers to give their testimonies. To do the initial teaching, we usually use teams from North America however after they have left, the computers area available for the local churches to use as local outreaches in their churches or to their church plants that are just getting underway. We would love to see these systems eventually be used year round and to have them all over the place (currently, they are in Ukraine only).
For me the confirmation of the Mobile Outreach Center was when we won first place in the Technology for Mission contest. We’re looking for more short term teams from North America to come and run the initial training on these systems. Would you be interested in leading a team? Contact me.