I caught a glimpse into the future the other night. I liked what I saw.
A Foursquare youth group from Papua New Guinea (PNG), led by missionaries Paul and Carina Greer, waved and shouted greetings to the youth of the Cornerstone Church in Anaheim, Calif. For the next hour, the two groups prayed, ministered and asked questions of one another.
And nobody moved. They couldn’t take their eyes off the big screen that linked them both live, with no time delay, even though they were 6,844 miles apart.
The experience begged the question, “What if Foursquare youth groups around the world could be connected together, in real time and at little cost, to pray, support and better understand each other—for the ultimate purpose of winning the lost?”
How would that impact the next generation for missions? This generation? Maybe it could even motivate “old guys” like me.
I watched in amazement as a vision we have had at Missions Press took another step towards reality. Two and a half years ago, we sent youth pastor Jeff Tolle, along with Phil and Sara Shipman, to Central America to meet with one hundred Foursquare youth pastors. Our goal was to learn what free gospel resources they needed to more effectively win the lost and strengthen the Christians in their communities.
We came back committed to embracing both old and new technologies for evangelism and discipleship. The question remained the same. “What really works?” Websites are great, but so is the simple printed tract.
We learned another valuable lesson. These youth leaders yearned for relationship with other leaders, as they often felt isolated and alone. So we asked ourselves, “What if a youth leader in Panama could network with fellow Panamanians, and with nearby Nicaragua and Honduras?”
We also realized a real breakthrough for missions could happen here in the United States if youth groups could directly develop relationship with groups from other nations. A world map in the church foyer will no longer suffice. Our youth want to look into the eyes, and hear the voice, of people they are praying for, even if they are thousands of miles apart. And once relationship is established, prayer and resources will follow.
Today’s technology makes that possible. So, not only did we ship tons of youth materials, but also we began to work on a file-sharing site and other ways to connect people together.
Looking intently into the camera, a teen from PNG asked a Cornerstone youth, “What do you do to win others to Christ?” It’s a profound question we must all ask and answer. But the question carries that much more weight when it’s asked from a peer, live and from across the globe.
The future—to connect the next generation globally in ways we’ve only dreamed of—is just around the corner. I can’t wait to watch it live.
Prayer Focus: Please continue to lift up the ministry of Foursquare Missions Press—that we are able to continue resourcing the thousands of pastors, and children’s and youth leaders around the Foursquare world. Pray specifically for our new ministry to network and resource youth leaders globally and for our ongoing Children’s Gospel Box program that trains and supplies children’s workers in developing nations.
Bob Hunt serves The Foursquare Church as director of Foursquare Missions Press.