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SBCNet provides missions experience for Ala. teens

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP)–With all of the potential for evil on the Internet for children and youth, it is nice to know that something good can come from it.

Just ask the Acteens from Southside Baptist Church, Decatur, Ala. During a recent lock-in, they had conversations with two home missionaries about their work in Kentucky and Wyoming via SBCNet, the Southern Baptist forum on CompuServe.

Acteens is the missions organization sponsored by Woman’s Missionary Union for girls in grades seven through 12.

The on-line experience for the Decatur Acteens was initiated by their leader, Amy Hill. A subscriber to SBCNet for over a year, Hill and her husband, Bryan, have found the service helpful in meeting fellow Southern Baptists through the various message boards and chat rooms on- line.

Hill matched her experience on SBCNet with missions education when she began to search for inexpensive ways to expose the Acteens to missionaries. SBCNet became an obvious choice, she recounted.

“I decided that if I could connect them on-line, it would be convenient for the missionaries and an inexpensive way for our girls to talk with missionaries,” she said.

So, on Jan. 22, Hill posted her request on MissionsNet, WMU’s library on SBCNet. It read, “I am seeking an Internet conference with any home or foreign missionary willing to speak to an Acteens group. We are having a StudiAct lock-in and would like to chat with a missionary … . We will build our schedule around anyone who will talk to us! … It would mean a lot to our small group.”

Two home missionaries replied to Hill’s request: David Crim, pastor of Northwest Community Baptist Church, Cheyenne, Wyo., and Stuart Perkins, a missionary associate with the Home Mission Board serving in Florence, Ky. The Acteens talked with Perkins early evening on Jan. 31 and with Crim at 1 a.m. Central time. In addition, the Acteens from Crim’s church also were having a lock-in that night so they joined him on-line and chatted with their peers in Alabama.

The Acteens asked the missionaries a variety of work-related questions and seemed curious about what distinguishes the work of a missionary from what the ministers at their church do, Hill recalled.

“The girls were really interested in what the missionaries had to say and it began to dawn on them that they could be on the other side of the screen someday,” she said. “They learned that what a missionary does it not so different from what they or their parents do.”

Along with planting a seed for their involvement in missions as adults, Hill said the experience also underscored what they are doing now is important.

One such area is their work in StudiAct, the individual achievement plan for Acteens. Hill noted her Acteens quizzed the Wyoming Acteens about their involvement in StudiAct, revealing to her they had some concerns at school about being involved in something their friends aren’t doing.

“The affirmation from another group of teenaged girls that StudiAct is not corny or something a few strange people do was encouraging to them,” Hill observed. “It was wonderful for them to find other girls in a different location who were doing and studying about the same things they were.

“I wish all missions organizations could experience this,” Hill continued. “It takes learning about missions to a whole different level.

“I’m talking about 12- to 15-year-old girls who have gone on mission trips with our church and have attended missions conferences but yet do not realize the breath and the scope of the missions force in the Southern Baptist Convention,” she explained. “For them to talk with someone who is out there, who is away from home and doing a special job and feels a special call on his life, it takes it to a new level for them. It is not a picture in a book. This becomes a person to them who is typing in front of a computer just like them.

“It is almost as good as being there,” she concluded.

For more information on SBCNet, call 1-800-325-7749.
*Name changed for security concerns.

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  • Tanya Dawson*