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Group utilizes computers to pray more effectively for missionaries


MURRAY, Ky. (BP)–Missionaries Ken and Donna Hills in Senegal, West Africa, had an important prayer need. A native Christian had been summoned to appear before Muslim leaders to defend his work as an evangelist.
In heavily Muslim countries, Christians often face ouster from their families and villages as well as outright persecution. The meeting was to take place within two days.
Enter Christian Communicators for Christ, a group at First Baptist Church, Murray, Ky., who use their computers to stay in touch with missionaries and with each other. Within hours, a network of Christians was praying for the man and his interrogators.
When the native Christian met with the Muslim panel, he shared some of his testimony, not backing down from his faith. And he’s seen no repercussions from his boldness.
“It used to be that someone would read a letter from a missionary on a Sunday night,” said Durwood Beatty, a retired Murray State University agriculture professor. An urgent prayer need might be weeks or months old; finding out how the matter was resolved took even longer, he said.
But e-mail offers instant communication, Beatty said.
Most importantly, missionaries benefit from a wide network of instant prayers. “Many people in the U.S. were a real part of helping their brother across the miles to endure and stand strong,” missionary Hills wrote in an e-mail interview.
Beatty said he became computer literate about the time he retired from Murray State, and he began to meet with other retirees at church as sort of a support group to help each other figure out the intricacies of Microsoft Windows and Internet surfing.
They met in the church library, along with the church librarian. Because the library computer is on-line, they tentatively practiced skills by e-mailing missionaries who have ties to First Baptist.
Jeff and Regina Palmer in the Philippines are from First Baptist, and former students of Beatty. So are another couple in the Middle East. Because they are in an area where Christianity isn’t welcome, their names and location are not publicized.
The computer group also has communicated with summer missionaries and partnership volunteers who have gone from the church.
When the state Acteens conference met at First Baptist several years ago, librarian Paula Alcott helped Acteens send e-mail to African children who were staying at the home of a missionary. Messages were posted back and forth, forging a link across the miles.
“E-mail is quick,” Beatty said. “If someone has an automobile accident or a health problem, we can know immediately.”
“Being able to virtually talk with a missionary by e-mail seems to make the whole work of prayer more real to the people stateside as they hear quickly of how their prayers have helped to work of the Lord in far away places,” echoed missionary Hills.
The group, which now has 12 members, meets monthly on Tuesday mornings, sending messages and catching up on questions about computers. They’ve registered as a co-ed Woman’s Missionary Union group, Beatty said, mostly because his wife is the church’s WMU director. In between times, they’re linked by e-mail to each other and the missionaries. They post messages for others in church to read, and they leave instructions and addresses for others to send their own e-mail to missionaries.
“It is very encouraging to us that we can receive immediate replies from these friends that share [our] commitment,” Hills wrote. “When you live in the middle of nowhere surrounded by non-believers, this feeling of Christian community is wonderful.”
“This is a great technology,” Beatty said. “And the missionaries are good to respond to us. I hear from them more than my own children.”

Darland is a correspondent for Kentucky Baptists’ Western Recorder newsjournal.