Technology at Work: When Online Friendship Leads to MinistryBlog / Produced by The High Calling
To this day, neither of us can remember how it began. Did I comment on her blog first, or did she comment on mine? Either way, we consider it a divine-online connection. Susan Stilwell lives in Virginia and I, in Alabama.
Susan would laugh at me later, because I would not tell her a lot about myself. I guess I was afraid she would break into my house with her Visa card and steal my good shoes! We still laugh about it. Soon I opened up and shared from my heart.
God was up to something, and the edges of the bigger picture have still not been fully seen.
Before long we were talking about our common places in life—aging parents, empty nests and aching joints of middle age.
The online conversations began to grow more frequent as we made plans to open our hearts, and a Facebook page, to those who were also empty nesters and looking for a community online.
Years before you could never convince me that friendship and ministry could ever happen online.
But God knew.
Words like Online Ministry and Networking had now become common phrases around our houses.
We Google-searched for a community to join whose focus was women 50 years of age and older, but could not find what we envisioned in our emails with each other.
But God knew the plans He had for us.
It took several attempts, and three years, for us to get a vision for what God was calling us to do—an online ministry for women who were 45 years of age and older.
We decided to create the online community we were looking to join. We soon realized God was calling us to reach out and minister to women using technology instead of teacakes. We would not be ministering in church space, but in cyberspace.
We found that women over the age of fifty were more technologically savvy than we realized. They no longer drove the car pool, or led a Girl Scout troop, and they were looking for a new place to give their time and talents.
When children leave home for territory of their own, there is a time when some women long for the community they once knew on the ball field and at dance practice. They're looking for a place to connect. And they are looking for people who understand.
For instance, when parents become like children, it is difficult to adjust. We need someone who has had similar experiences.
Susan and I knew this was the ministry God was calling us to create. We felt called to create a gathering space for women to encourage each other through difficult seasons and decisions.
It was not long before a third, divine-online introduction was made. We met a woman named Bonnie Wallace, who was in the same place in life with the same passion for women’s ministry.
The three of us talked for a year before God opened the doors for The Consilium – A Collective Of Wisdom And Grace to be created. Technology had provided a way to reach women in their second phase of life. We were thrilled to see women from all over the world who were lonely, or struggling or simply looking for an online community.
Technology is an amazing tool we have to connect us to the world. In the wrong hands it can do much harm.
Technology in the care of those with a pure heart, can become a way to extend the hands of Christ further than our own small community.
So tell me. How does Technology benefit your walk with Christ?
Diane W. Bailey is a Life Coach and co-founder of The Consilium, a group for women finding purpose in their second phase of life. She is the author of String of Pearls and 30 Days To A Better Stepfamily. She lives in the Deep South with her husband and enjoys overindulging their three grandchildren. As a stepfamily they have successfully raised four children to adulthood, though she admits there were times the definition of “success” needed to be redefined. Her favorite things are fried okra, gumbo and any day at the beach with family.
Photo by Tim Miller. Design by Jennifer Dukes Lee.