Bev walked me to the door as I slipped out of the ladies missionary circle luncheon at her home. I’d been there three hours already and it was not winding down. Though I am far from young, I felt like a teenager among these ladies, but Bev, on the other hand, was the oldest woman there and probably the wisest!
“This kind of thing is dying,” she said. “It’s not going to go to the next generation.”
“I know,” I answered. “I’m sorry to leave, but I took off work to come and I’ve got to get going.”
Bev went on, “When these women began this missionary circle it was the only women’s group they had. Now we’ve got choices – Bible studies, small groups, all sorts of things. Prayer groups are important – but times change.”
It was said without rancor. Bev has seen it all. She doesn’t particularly LIKE change, but she rolls with it. Except when she says to me, “I have no computer, no email, no Facebook, and no cell phone. You can find me at my land line!” She’ll stick with the circle, but she won’t expect me to be there every month.
A few years ago a younger mom told me she would love to be part of the missionary prayer circle, but she had young children, and there was no childcare. The same issue had kept me out of the circle for years. We brainstormed how to get more people praying and decided that we should create a “cyber circle.” Today she receives the emails from all the missionaries of our church and then resends them to hundreds of people in the church who have signed up to pray. In a given week, I get 5-10 missionary emails. No wait, no turnaround time.
The secretary at another of our churches collected email as they came in and then sent them all at once. It was cumbersome and if you had an urgent prayer request, you might wait a week for it to be sent. I told this secretary about our cyber prayer circle and she immediately changed her system. Now, as soon as she gets a letter on email, it is sent to her circle of prayer partners in the church.
In a quick survey recently of twelve churches, I found two “cyber circles,” two that forwarded missionary emails to a limited list, and all the rest were still printing paper copies and making those available in various ways. A few are posting on the web – which poses other complications for people working in limited access areas.
Our challenge as missionaries is to figure out how our supporting churches handle our letters and tailor our communication to their system. If we have the relationship, we may be able to crank them up a notch and get them to create a “cyber circle”.
Everyone benefits. More readers mean more prayer, more giving, and more involvement in God’s plan to reach a lost world.