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Computer ministry has multiplied to aid 5,000 workers worldwide

ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–Walter Tripp, manager of Missionary Computer Fellowship, recalls hearing someone describe the organization as “the most widely known rinky dink ministry in the world.”

While he laughs about the “rinky dink” part and questions the “most widely known” distinction, Tripp acknowledges MCF has helped thousands of missionaries by providing inexpensive or free computers, software and training.

The Orlando-based MCF supports a staff of 25 people who spend much of their time upgrading or refurbishing computers for missionaries. The ministry originally was established to offer computer training for missionaries, recounted Tripp, a member of Central Parkway Baptist Church in Orlando, but its capabilities have expanded with its reputation.

First Presbyterian Church, Orlando, which Tripp said has “been very good to us in an interdenominational sense,” gave a major boost to the ministry when it offered MCF free office space to build computers. The community soon rallied behind MCF as its impact on missions grew. Community members began donating used computers to the MCF office.

Initially the intent was to rebuild the computers for resale to companies as a means of financing the ministry. But that quickly evolved into updating used computers for sale to missionaries as well, and has now become a major focus of the ministry.

Missionaries — including retired missionaries, missionary children and students training to be missionaries — receive a 75 percent discount on most used computer equipment. MCF gives away outdated computer models such as IBM’s 286, 386 and 486.

Missionaries also can obtain brand-new computers, with the requirement they pay for the wholesale cost of parts.

Of the 5,000 missionaries aided by MCF, hundreds have sent notes and letters expressing their gratitude for the computers.

A missionary in Nigeria wrote, “I really lack words to express my appreciation for the way you have continued to bless the work in Nigeria with all of the computers.”

Diane R. Fox, who serves in Africa, wrote, “Thank you again for your gracious gift of seven computers for Guinea. I know that those who receive them will greatly appreciate what you have done … .”

Tripp said most missionaries use computers to stay in touch with relatives and friends through e-mail. Others use Printmaster to make cards for church members and the online Bible search program for teaching materials.

Betty Lou Mills, a missionary to Bosnia and Croatia, said, “MCF got me started on computers. They made it possible on a missionary salary to get a computer.”

Presently, MCF’s greatest need is for workers and for older computers, Tripp said. The ministry has several pending requests from Russia, Trinidad and Nigeria for computers. Tripp also needs workers to service Macintosh computers and to edit videos for missionaries.

“Every year we almost drown in the numbers of people who need help,” Tripp said. “The thing I’d like to do is to help more people, and to do that we need more workers.”

For information about receiving computer training, giving and receiving computer equipment, or working with Missionary Computer Fellowship, call (407) 422-9265.

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  • Brittany Jarvis