‘Social media has its negatives, but if the positive is enabling someone to get to church I’m in’

Last night I had a phone call from one of our former Iranian adherents. He had moved to another part of the country (which we knew about) but hadn’t been to church for a week or two. He was phoning to ask me to help him find a church.

I knew of two churches off the top of my head where he was. There was one of them I thought it would be better for him to attend. From where he was living, that church was a 25 minute bus ride away.

Fortunately, I knew the minister as a Twitter friend. I told my Iranian friend that I would get in touch with him and see if they might be able to at least make contact before he arrived. Encouragingly, my friend simply said he would wait to see if anybody made contact but, if not, he would certainly get there under his own steam.

As it happened, the minister of that church was away. So I was particularly grateful that he broke off from what I presume, but still don’t actually know, was a holiday to answer my message. Better still, he arranged for somebody who was around to contact my friend. I received another message shortly after telling me that contact had been made and a lift had been arranged so that there was no need to get a bus. My friend also contacted me later last night and told me how pleased he was about all of this. I asked him to let me know how he got on.

Shortly after our church service today, just as I was walking my kids to the car to go home, I received a phone call from my friend. He wanted to tell me that he made it to church, he was very pleased to have found it and he was certain he was going to carry on going. This was all hugely encouraging to me. My friend wasn’t always the easiest to keep a pastoral handle on so it was most encouraging that he was actively seeking out a church and, more than that, he was keen to keep going despite the effort it would take on his part. I hope he grows in his faith as he settles in this church.

I got in touch with my Twitter friend to say thank you for organising all of this. He simply said this:

Total pleasure to be able to. Social media has its negatives, but if the positive is enabling someone to get to church I’m in… I look forward to meeting him before too long.

A big ‘amen’ to that.

I know that Twitter and the like is not always the most salubrious place. But, as I said here:

Were it not for that platform there are plenty of people I would never have come across. By God’s grace, some of the folk I know only by their online presence have blessed us enormously with prayer, finances and a desire to help us find workers. These are kingdom-minded people who love the Lord enough to give away funds and resources because a bloke they’ve never met, running a church they’re unlikely to have ever noticed, said we needed support. I am not much more than pixels on a screen to some of them and yet, out of gospel concern, they chose to help. I attribute that first to the sovereignty of God, second to the gospel-heartedness of those individuals and third to Twitter.

Through Twitter, I have made links with people working in similar communities to us. We have been able to discuss – sometimes even meet – and talk about how we can best reach our communities. I have learnt some really helpful things from such people on Twitter. Some of them tell me I’ve taught them things too (people we shall charitably label, ‘flatterers’; a group eminently preferable to trolls). Nonetheless, we’ve certainly been able to share experience, outreach ideas and bat around some of the unique problems faced by churches in our communities.

I can now add to that list, finding spiritual homes for our young Iranian believers who have to move on from Oldham.

The point here is don’t disparage Twitter too much. For all its faults, as with many things, it is generally more helpful than not. Truly. Read this to see just how useful it can be.