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His on-line ministry touches lives across U.S. to India & Australia

PELHAM, Ala. (BP)–The question loomed on the computer screen like a plump, juicy tomato hanging on the vine, waiting to be picked and subsequently devoured by a hungry onlooker: “Can a homosexual be a Christian?”
That anonymous inquiry, posted in a Christian chat room, was recently discovered by Bob Cleveland while browsing the Internet.
“I’m going to answer this one,” he said, and, after pausing briefly to gather his thoughts, proceeded to type passage after passage of Scripture describing the homosexual lifestyle as contradictory to the Christian life.
Cleveland, a deacon and longtime member of First Baptist Church, Pelham, Ala., spends about two or three hours a day sharing his faith from his computer, doing what he calls “a ministry anointed by God.”
Going by the screen name Mighty Fowl — derived from the passage, “They will soar on wings like eagles,” found in Isaiah 40:31 — Cleveland uses the technology of this age to spread the timeless message of God’s love.
“God has gifted me with a spirit of sensitivity,” Cleveland reflected, “with the ability to look at a screen full of type, read between the lines and see the need behind it.”
While many fear the pervasive qualities of the Internet, Cleveland welcomes the opportunities for evangelism afforded by increased globalization.
“These opportunities weren’t around during Jesus’ time,” Cleveland noted, adding that as civilizations change, Christians too must be willing to adapt their methods — but not the message — to reach a greater audience for Christ.
Corresponding daily with a network of individuals around the world — from Oregon to South Africa to Germany — Cleveland ministers to the lost, hurting or those who just need someone to listen.
And he estimates he has led about “half a dozen” people to the Lord while on-line.
Often laying hands on the screen while praying for an individual’s need, Cleveland said God has even woken him up at 3 a.m. before and led him to a particular chat room where he found someone in need of spiritual guidance.
Yet he does not type prayers, because “they are just between me and God,” he said.
Cleveland began his Internet evangelism four years ago, after entering a Christian chat room and meeting a lady who called herself “Fudges.”
During the course of the next few months, Cleveland continued witnessing to the distraught woman, who eventually revealed that if not for their conversations, she would likely have committed suicide.
“She told me, ‘Many nights you kept me on this earth by talking to me,'” Cleveland said.
Since then, Cleveland said he has had the opportunity to minister to a reformed lesbian in Australia, a girl in India who feared an arranged marriage, a woman in Missouri whom he helped quit smoking and many others.
He even helped a woman from Florida locate her son who had been kidnapped by her estranged husband.
Yet no matter the respondent’s need, Cleveland said his message is always the same: “God loves you, and nothing is out of his control.”
And while his ministry has resulted in many changed lives, Cleveland takes no credit for its fruitfulness.
“The Holy Spirit is so strong. It isn’t me — I’m a slug, pond scum. I want people to look past me and say, ‘What a God [he serves]!'”
And along with impacting other people’s lives for Christ, Cleveland noted the Internet ministry’s profound effect on his own faith.
In particular, he said it has led to a deeper understanding of Jesus’ words in John 14:12, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do even greater things than … [what I have been doing].”
At first, Cleveland said he had difficulty discerning the meaning behind that verse. But through modern technology — which allows him to communicate God’s love across states, countries and even continents simultaneously — its message was revealed.
“Imagine the [12] disciples’ surprise, to learn of a man in the future being able to share the gospel with someone in England, Australia and India — all at once,” he said.
“In that context, I can understand [the verse].”

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  • Jason Skinner