For evangelical Christians, few commandments are more important than the one Jesus gave to his disciples: take his Word to the ends of the earth. Technology has played an integral part of Christian mission strategy for the past 100 years, with advances like radio and television allowing millions to be reached at once. But now, some missionaries are going beyond using technology to reach the ends of the earth - they are taking technology along with Christ's message to the world's ends.
Sue Grigg is a member of First Christian Church Disciples of Christ, and she has been using her skills to do the Lord's work for over 17 years. She is the department head of computer technology at Louisiana Technical College, and has an extensive background repairing electrical appliances. When she first heard of a missionary group working out of Zaire, requesting somebody with an electrical background, she was enthralled with the idea.
"I got one of their newsletters and saw where one of the members was overseas in Zaire, and it all seemed so interesting," she said. "They were looking for someone with a background in electronics and I had that."
Sue went to church that Sunday with a medical missionary who had been serving in Africa, and that encounter cemented her burgeoning interest. The missionary gave a presentation at the service, showing how people in Africa had hardly more than a radio to contact the outside world. Sue's husband, John, gave the organization his wife's name, beginning Sue's journeys as a communication and technology missionary.
Since then, Sue has visited villages in Africa and Guatemala, each time exploring a village's needs and helping set up communications for remote villages. The radio installations allow villages to communicate with one another, requesting for medicines if there is a medical emergency, or just passing news along.
"When I first got involved, I was hearing about the Zaire installation. When unrest started, many missionaries were informed by radio and they were able to get out, some with just the clothes on their backs," said Sue.
However, despite the many dangers that can accompany working as western missionaries in many places of unrest, faith is considered integral to the missionaries and it allows them to persevere.
"You have to have faith that someone other than you is in control of the situation. Sometimes you turn and say, 'His hand is showing here because there's no other explanation'" for the way things work out when you least expect it," said Sue.
Through technology, missionaries have found ways to bridge communications between villages, but also, to enable dialogue between natives and themselves. It is an odd twist that by providing technology, rather than utilizing it, the Word of God is spreading. However, this must be all part of God's plan to unite all peoples under His banner of saving grace.