Finding Freedom

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” – James 5:16, NIV

John had been addicted to porn for years. When he came clean and began attending Celebrate Recovery meetings at his local church, Jesus slowly transformed his life. Not only was John free from porn, he was more active and engaged with his church.

John eventually joined his church’s digital team. He helped with website maintenance and updating. He also enjoyed experimenting with marketing and advertising. When John came across a list of the most popular porn terms, he had an idea.

He recommended that his church bid on those keywords. When visitors clicked through to the church’s website, they would see a page that talked about how to find freedom from a pornography addiction.

John created an email list so he could messages visitors who wanted more information. Then John would reach out to these members two or three times each week, letting them know they weren’t alone and that they could be set free.

The church’s prayer team also dedicated one night a week to meeting and praying for those battling addictions. As a result of their prayers, many were set from the seductive pull of pornography.

God, the Internet can be a tool for those living in the light or those seeking the darkness. Please call those from the dark into the light, so they can experience Your abundant grace and mercy! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Are You OK?

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34-35, NIV

Gavin Larkin was a man who appeared to have it all. He was successful in his career. He had a loving wife and three beautiful children.

But he was always struggling to cope. In 1995, his father had committed suicide. Although Gavin seemed to have everything, he felt directionless and sad. He worried that like his father, he would one day take his own life.

A friend encouraged Gavin to attend a personal development workshop. A key component of this event included creating a cause that mattered. Gavin instantly knew his platform would be suicide prevention.

With that in mind, Gavin launched the Are You OK Movement. The idea was simple: dedicate a day to asking loved ones, friends, and even strangers if they’re OK. His mission quickly gained popularity and celebrities were helping to promote the annual event.

Sadly, Gavin passed away in 2011. But his mission lives on as his wife and remaining two children continue to share his message with the world.

One way that digital disciples can reach out is to send short text or social media messages to simply ask, “Are you OK?” The website even shares tips on how to ask and how to follow up.

God, show me who to reach out to today. Grant me compassion and wisdom as I listen. Guide me as I share resources that may be helpful. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Share Your Testimony

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” – Matthew 19:14, NIV

Lacey Buchanan’s son, Christian, was born blind and with a bilateral cleft palate. When Christian was a baby, Lacey sometimes received unkind remarks and hateful questions from those in public.

Not wanting strangers to be cruel, she began covering his car seat with a blanket and shielding his face from the world. But one day she heard God whisper not to hide her precious child any longer.

So Lacey decided to educate those who remarked about her son. She created a video about his health conditions and how he was “fearfully and wonderfully made” just as he was.

Twenty-four hours after Lacey posted the video, it went viral. Over six million people saw it and a media storm began. She went on to write a book about life with Christian, titling it Through the Eyes of Hope (it’s available on Amazon).

Sharing your testimony online can be a powerful way to encourage other Christians and draw others to Jesus. Don’t be afraid to show the world what God has done in your life!

God, help me to be bold like Lacey was. I want to share what You’ve done for me and how amazing You are with others! Show me how to share my testimony. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Comfort & Encouragement

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” – 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NIV

Paula had been a high school teacher for almost two decades. She’d always thought of her students as her mission field. She loved getting to encourage her teens and watching them grow.

When Paula logged onto social media last week, she noticed a friend request from her former student. Once she accepted, several more requests came through. Paula enjoyed catching up with the graduates and seeing where their lives had gone.

But she also noticed that not everyone had happy news to report. One former student had recently suffered a miscarriage. Another was struggling with a difficult medical diagnosis.

Paula took the time to send these students messages to encourage them and that’s when she realized her social media networks could be mission fields, too. So, she began posting positive content daily.

One day she shared a love note her husband had written. Another day she posted a prayer for survivors of a national tragedy. She uploaded a video that had encouraged her when she had been going through a difficult time.

You may not realize it but like Paula, you can make your online profiles mission fields, too. You never know who might be reading your posts and how much they may need encouragement.

God, help me to encourage and lift up others. Show me how to be a source of comfort to my hurting friends. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Internet Evangelism

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”

– Mark 16:15, NIV

Richard was almost seventy before he finally retired. He’d loved his job as a surgeon and he’d enjoyed playing a small role in healing patients.

But after he retired, Richard felt stuck. He wasn’t sure what to do next. He felt a tug toward ministry but he wasn’t sure how to get started.

When he heard about the concept of “internet evangelism”, he was fascinated. He searched online and saw dozens of opportunities. He experimented and tried several. Then he discovered Peace with God.

This online ministry outlines the Gospel story and invites visitors to pray for salvation. But it also invites visitors to submit questions about God and faith directly to the website. Each question is personally answered by a volunteer.

Richard went to Search for Jesus and applied to become a volunteer. Now, he spends a two afternoons every week, answering spiritual questions and leading others to the Lord.

Sometimes, it’s tempting to believe that you have nothing to contribute to the church. But like Richard, you can serve God by giving of your time or your talents. 

God, please help me to use my time and gifts to honor You. Show me how I can reach out and minister to those around me.

Tweet It Out

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” – Ephesians 4:2, NIV

When Melissa started a ministry for hurting women and children, she went onto Twitter. She did an advanced search and followed everyone within a 25-mile radius of her neighborhood. She didn’t worry about how they looked, what their beliefs were, or how many followers they had.

“The goal of this ministry is to reach hurting people where they are…even if they look different than me. Even if they use language I wouldn’t or have never stepped foot in church. I just want to love people.”

Melissa regularly signs into Twitter and looks for updates from people who are having a difficult time or sound like they need encouraging. Then she sends them a quick direct message (DM). She often says things like:

  • I’m praying for you.
  • Can I help with ABC?
  • I believe in you.
  • How are you doing today?
  • What can I pray for you over?

Sometimes other users respond to her messages and sometimes they don’t. But that’s not the point for Melissa. She just wants to reach out and show Jesus.

God, help me to love other people even if they aren’t like me. Give me spiritual vision to see beyond appearances into hearts that are hurting and in need of hope. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Build Up One Another

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11, NIV

James felt frustrated. He was an older pastor, serving a church he loved. But it had stopped growing and he longed to reach out to more people. He’d often think if he could simply find a way to share the message of Jesus that the church would begin growing again.

He knew that creating videos and publishing them online would be a good start. But he wasn’t sure how to make that happen and the church already had a small budget. He didn’t want to burden the congregation with the expense. So, he prayed over it and waited.

A few months later, one of the women church married a man she’d met online. Henry, the groom, moved to the town and began attending church with his new wife. He was a web designer who loved social media.

When he heard James talk about his desire to reach more people, he instantly connected with him.

Henry quickly explained to James that he didn’t need a huge budget or state-of-the-art equipment. He shared that videos could be created easily thanks to social media tools like Facebook Live and YouTube.

Within a few months of using video, James began seeing new faces at the small church’s services. He was delighted to see that the church’s banner message was beginning to spread.

God, give me a vision bigger than myself. Provide me with the tools and the people I need to make Your vision come to life! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Online Disciples

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20, NIV

Joanna read the email twice. A woman by the name of Michelle had reached out to her. Michelle had read some of Joanna’s Bible studies. She was walking through a difficult season in her own life and she longed to know more about Jesus.

Joanna wasn’t sure how to respond until she thought about the Great Commission. Suddenly, she knew that God wanted her to mentor this broken, hurting woman.

So she wrote back inviting the woman to join her in a daily Bible study through the book of Matthew. After a month of studying the life of Jesus, Michelle asked Joanna to call her.

Over the phone, Joanna led Michelle through the prayer of salvation. She was overjoyed as the woman accepted Jesus as her Savior.

You may not realize but you can use the Internet to fulfill the Great Commission. Ministering to someone online can be just as powerful as mentoring someone offline.

God, bring into my life someone that I can pour into. I want to tell this person about Your great love and mercy. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Meeting Together

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:24-25, NIV

Mia had a heart for outreach. She often visited with women who were homebound, chronically ill, or were caregivers of disabled loved ones. Over and over again, she heard the women express the same desire.

They longed to be part of a women’s group but their circumstances made travel (even short distances) difficult on the best of days.

Mia shared this frustration with her mentor, Dana. Dana suggested that Mia look for a way to bring the Gospel to these women. “It’s what Jesus did in the New Testament. He met people where they were.”

After some prayer, Mia partnered with a woman in her church who enjoyed doing Bible studies. Together, they started a Tuesday evening meeting through Facebook Live. This allowed Mia to minister to those who were sick and disabled.

Are there people in your life who are expressing a need that could be filled by the local church? How can you and your Christian family use social media to meet this need?

God, show me the needs of my community. Give my church wisdom and courage that we may rise up and comfort those that are afflicted. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Encourage Each Other

“I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong—that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” – Romans 1:11-12, NIV

Michael knew something seemed different about his youngest child. While his older brothers had always hit their developmental marks early, the youngest seem to trail behind.

After a battery of tests, the doctor told Michael that his son was autistic. Michael was shocked and confused. He didn’t know what to do or how to help his son.

Thomas, a co-worker who heard the news came to Michael. He also had a child with autism and he supported Michael and his wife. “He shared everything he could with me. He walked me and my wife through those first few months, explaining what the doctor’s words meant, how I could communicate with Colt.”

Michael was so inspired by and grateful for Thomas’ help that he wanted to pay it forward. So he started a YouTube channel to help fathers with autistic children. He was overwhelmed with the response. “So many dads reach out to me every week thanking me for what I do. It’s become my mini ministry.”

YouTube videos can be a terrific way to share what’s going on in your life while ministering to others. Is there a community you feel called to serve? Consider creating YouTube videos for them!

God, show me who I can walk with and encourage today. Open my eyes to the community that You want me to serve. In Jesus’ name, Amen.