Connecting With God in Cyberspace
Part One: The Secret Project Revealed
Written by Gary Piper
One Saturday evening a man knocked on his son’s bedroom door and discovered his 10 year old son writing on a pad of paper, “What cha doing son?” he asked.
Quickly replying, “It’s a secret project!”
“A secret project?” His father asked.
“Yup! It’s a secret.
“Can you tell me I won’t tell anyone?”
“If I told you it wouldn’t be a secret anymore,” his son replied.
For the next few minutes, the father tried to convince his son to let him know what he was doing but the son wouldn’t budge. Finally, the exasperated father told his son that when it came to building whatever the project when it came to putting it together he could not use any of the power tools.
The son replied, “Oh, this can’t be put together here when I am finished with my secret project I am going to give the plans to Pastor Harold and let him put it together.”
Suddenly the father’s curiosity began running out of control and for the next half hour, the interview continued. And each time the father tried to see what his son was doing the son would turn the paper over and smiling say, “It’s a secret dad.”
Finally, the son folded up the paper put in an envelope licked the glue and sealed it shut. Turning to his father, “What’s in this envelope is going to completely revolutionize God. But don’t ask me about it because until Pastor Harold puts it together it will be a secret.”
Without saying a word the father turned and walked out of the room thinking to himself, how is a 10 year boy going to revolutionize God?
The next day at church, the 10 year old boy ran up to the Pastor and handed him the envelope containing his secret plan. The father watched intently as the Pastor opened the envelope. Without changing his expression, the Pastor bent down whispered something in his ear then gave the boy a hug shook his hand folded the paper up and put it in pocket.
Almost 20 minutes later, the Pastor walked to pulpit looking out over the congregation reached in his pocket and pulled out the piece of paper given him by the 10 year old boy. Unfolding it and placing it in front of him he began reading.
“Dear Pastor Harold. This is me Gregory Feeder and I am 10 years old and I am writing to you about a secret project I’ve been working on for a couple of months now and I have gone as far as a 10 year old boy can go so I am turning my secret project over to you. I am a real close friend to God because I talk to him all the time and I know you and God are real close friends too but I know you understand God a whole lot more than I do.”
The Pastor paused looked out at the congregation to find where Gregory was sitting after locating him the Pastor waved then winked and continued reading. “My secret project I’ve been working on is not for me it’s for my older brother, Tim and his new wife Beth. Tim used to go to church all the time with my mom, dad, and me but since he went to college then married Beth he doesn’t go to church any more. I may not know a lot about God but I do know that if you don’t go to church you can get away from him and when you get away from God you will have a lot of trouble. I asked Tim why he didn’t go to church and he told me it just didn’t present him with the God he needed. I am not sure what he meant by that but I didn’t question him about it.”
Again, the Pastor paused this time he did not look up from the paper and silently prayed for insight. Several minutes later, he continued reading the letter. “As I have already stated I am not sure what he meant because I heard you say that God is big enough for everyone. I know Tim was sincere in what he said and I know you were sincere in what you said but I don’t understand how both of you can be sincere at the same time. A couple of months ago I heard something on a news report about the younger people needing an electronic God. I asked Tim if he knew what it meant and he told me people his age used cell phones, and other electronic devices, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, and the internet more than any generation to get everything they need. That’s when I thought up my secret project I think we need to discover a way to put the gospel into cyberspace.”
Suddenly the silence in sanctuary gave way to whispering. As the Pastor looked over his aging congregation, he could almost predict what they were saying. While he waited for silence to return, he reached under the pulpit and removed his bible. As a hush once again fell on the congregation, he continued with Gregory’s letter. “I don’t know a whole lot about God but I remember hearing you say that God is bigger than the entire universe but also smaller than the tiniest atom. If God is smaller than an atom, why can’t we put the gospel of Jesus into electronic devices and send them to all the young people who depend on them for what they need? I’ve prayed about it but being only 10 I think I’ve prayed myself as far as I can go and I don’t think we can wait until I can pray like an adult. Can you please work with God and finish my secret project? Thank you, Gregory Feeder, age 10.”
The Pastor lifted the letter from the pulpit folded it back up and replaced it in his pocket. Picking up his bible, he turned to 2nd Chapter of Joel in the Old Testament and began reading from the 28th verse. “Then after I have poured out my rains again, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams. Your young men will see visions. In those days, I will pour out my Spirit even on servants, men and women alike.” (Joel 2:28 – 2:29)
Sitting the bible back down on the pulpit and looking over the congregation he said, “Now does anyone in this sanctuary want to tell God how to go about doing his job? Does anyone sitting here want to tell God how to go about empowering your sons and daughters how to prophesy? Does anyone sitting here want to instruct God on who and how he is to pour out his Spirit?
Pausing briefly, “Speak now or forever hold your peace!”
After waiting for someone to speak up for nearly 3 minutes the Pastor then asked everyone over 55 years old stand. 85 percent of the congregation stood to their feet. “Look around,” he said, “unless we do something right now to put the gospel in cyberspace and make it relevant to the electronic device generation in 20 years the gospel light in this sanctuary will forever go out.”
The Pastor stood quiet for a minute or so then finding Gregory once again looked at him and said, “Gregory, I am not sure if I can finish your secret project but one thing I can and will do is to do all I can to work with you and God in not only putting the gospel into cyberspace but getting it into the hearts of people like your brother and sister-in-law.”
Slowly standing to his feet, Gregory replied, “I knew you would Pastor Harold and I even though I am only 10 years old God told me he would help you.” Sitting back down and turning to his father, he noticed tears were running down his cheeks, “I love you dad.” Then turning to his mom, “I love you, too mom. Tim and Beth are going to be alright God told me that too.”
Walking back to sit down and wait for the worship service to end Pastor Harold noticed Herman Brown and Stanley Down whispering to each other. Herman and Stanley were on the executive board of the church and both were staunch traditionalists and strongly opposed any move to upgrade the church into the electronic era. Whispering to himself, “looks like I’ll be busy this afternoon.”
A few minutes later at the back of the sanctuary, “Harold, the executive board would like a few minutes with you in the office before we go home. We’ll be waiting for you.”
“I’ll be there as soon as everyone has left the sanctuary,” he replied.
“Pastor Harold, “Paul Feeder said, “thank you for taking Greg’s letter seriously. I know some of the people here are not going to take what you said lightly so if there’s anything we can do to help you out please don’t hesitate to call on us.”
“You’ve a great son, Paul he’ll go along way with the relationship he has with God. Please be sure you help him cultivate it no matter what that’s one of the best ways you can help me. I’ll be okay don’t worry,” Harold Paxton replied.
Harold Paxton had been the Pastor of the First Community Church of Heathcoat for about nearly 10 years. And for the last 5 years, he had attempted unsuccessfully to upgrade the church with the latest in audio/video equipment. His only success had been to have the internet installed. One trait Harold had inherited from his father was the spirit of persistence and never-say-die attitude at everything he undertook. And he was prepared to put that attitude to work with Greg’s secret project.
Walking into the office, everyone was sitting where he expected them to sit. Suddenly it was déjà vu as he took his seat behind his desk. He could almost predict what would happen next. Seconds after sitting down just has he predicted Herman was the first to speak, “Speaking for all of the executive board we strongly object to any of that electronic junk other than your computer in this church. From all we’ve heard it is all from the devil and even if it isn’t, none of us understand it so we’re 100 percent satisfied with the way things are.”
Herman used different words for his lecture and this time was the same as he’d heard over the last 5 years. “I understand the board’s position but I was serious when I said if we don’t change and do it quickly we’ll continue to be a dying church. Besides, just because there’s no mention of electronic technology in the bible doesn’t mean that it’s from the devil or that God never intended humankind to discover and develop it for spreading the gospel story.”
Stanley interrupting Harold, “Pastor, you may be right but what we are saying is that all of that electronic mumbo jumbo stuff is not for us and if you continue to pursuit it we’ll be forced to take appropriate action.”
“Excuse me Stanley and other members of the board, while I disagree with you on all points I promised the young Feeder boy I’d help him all I could and I intend on keeping my promise. However, for the time being I will not involve the church or any of the churches funds. But I want to go on record as saying this board and congregation is making a big mistake. When you always do what you always done you’ll always be where you’ve always been. Now if you’ll excuse me I’ve a dinner invitation to keep.”
Harley Booker spoke up, “We don’t want to create hard feelings Harold we just want to know that when we come to church we hear the good news of Jesus Christ, we want to know when we die we’ll all go the mansion he is making for us. We don’t believe that is asking for too much from you and if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 80 years on God’s green earth when he wants to communicate with someone he’ll figure out a way of doing so without our help.”
It took all the patience Harold could muster to keep him from expressing his true feelings but in the end, he knew it would only fall on deaf ears. Smiling to himself he calmly thanked the board members for giving him a few minutes of their time and told them he’d see them at Wednesday evening bible study. As they left the office, each member thanked Harold for being so understanding and told him how good of a job he was doing.
Minutes later Harold sat at his desk motionless staring at a picture of Jesus reaching out his hand and pulling up Peter out of the water. Suddenly he was drawn to Peter’s face and instantly he saw his own face and in the background, he could see the faces of the Executive Board of the First Community Church of Heathcoat in the boat. Deep inside he heard the words, “Do not fear the storm fear only remaining in the boat.” Then all of a sudden a huge wave hit the boat and it disappeared from the picture.
Less than a minute later, everything returned to normal. “Thank you, Lord,” Harold said, “I think I understand what I need to do next.” Reaching for his computer Harold turned it on and waited for the software to load up.
Clicking on the MSWord software program he began contemplating what he was going to say. Several minutes later, he began typing.
Dear First Community Church of Heathcoat Executive Board,
It is with a sense of deep regret I write this resignation letter, but I think we have come to a parting of the way. Your sense of what we need here at First Church is not the same as what I as your Pastor see. I believe Jesus is asking us to go into all of the world including cyberspace as well.
I can understand your reluctance to think in terms other than traditional because the electronic device technology is new and can be very intimidating to those who do not or who are unwilling to try to understand it. What I cannot understand is your lack of trust in how God is leading me as your Pastor to not only minister to your spiritual needs and at the same time minister to those who find traditional methods obsolete. It is my belief that when they younger generations speak of those traditional methods as obsolete you are somehow getting the idea that you yourselves are obsolete. I can assure you nothing is farther from the truth.
I’d like to share with you a favorite scripture of mine, one I’ve used many times in our worship services. “Have you never heard or understood? Don’t you know that the LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth? He never grows faint or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to those who are tired and worn out; he offers strength to the weak. Even youths will become exhausted, and young men will give up. But those who wait on the LORD will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:28 – 40:31)
There are a couple of things I would like you to consider. First of all the reason the youth become exhausted and the young men give up is because the traditional methods you are used to does not work for them. To them it’s like having your car tires on ice then stepping on the gas and just spinning your tires and going nowhere. And the second thing is if you’ll be patient with the Lord as he works with the younger generations you’ll be strengthen as well. God and the gospel of Jesus Christ are big enough for all ages if we’re willing to work with each other and with God.
I am sorry if I have tried to preach a sermon but I had to get that off my chest. I know this letter comes as a surprise to you but then no one is more surprised than I am. While I have not put an effective date on this letter I would hope that we could use 60 days from the date you receive this letter as an effective date. That will give you time to find another Pastor and it will give me time to seek the Lords help in what he is asking me to do and where he is asking me to go. If 60 days is not okay with you please let give me a date that will satisfy both the board and congregation.
Yours in the bonds of Christ Jesus,
Harold G. Paxton
Harold, printed 2 copies of his letter saved the file then began shutting down his computer as he waited he looked up again at the picture of Jesus and Peter on the water. “I am with you even until the end of the age. Amen!”
Walking to the door he turned looked at the picture and said, “Lord it’s not going to be easy for the First Community Church to get the gospel into cyberspace because so many do not understand the younger generations and their use and dependency on their electronic devices.” Harold Paxton knew the gospel of Jesus Christ was for all times but he also knew those charged with sharing it needed to know how and why to make it relevant to each generation. Shutting and locking the door to the church he wondered if he was up for the task.
Meanwhile back in his office the picture on his wall suddenly came to life and Jesus smiled and said, “Harold, my friend I am sending you into the fieriest storm of your life and the life of this church. But do not worry I am with you and will go before you.”
Just before turning the key in the ignition of his car without thinking he commented, “I will do wherever you want me to do Lord, Jesus.”