Friday, December 16, 2011

Technology in Missions

One thing we have realized lately is how essential technology is to global mission work. In addition to email and web browsing some of the latest technology developments have become great assets to the work we are doing. We wanted to share with you some of the great tools we are using (this is written with Bob narrating).

Dropbox-  it is an internet service that allows files to be stored by the Dropbox company on the internet, and then downloaded and updated as needed on several people's personal computers. It is forgiving of flaky internet, doesn't take up too much bandwidth, and is easy to use. We have used it to collaborate on our newsletters and to run our partnership database on 2 computers. Cynthia was amused when members of a digital scrapbooking forum that she follows discovered it; this new technology that has become the  norm to us, was rocking their world.

Skype-  The first place I ever saw instant messaging was when I was an intern at JAARS in 2001, and Skype was gaining traction in Wycliffe when I took a mission trip to Mexico with them in 2002. Now the rest of the world has begun to catch up and recognize the value of the videoconferencing and instant messaging that Skype allows. We use Skype on a weekly basis to check in with our supervisior in Orlando and for other remote meetings.

BGAN- My trip to Nigeria in June was to install a pretty cool piece of technology: a satellite internet device that was portable, rugged, required minimal maintenance and setup, and could work for long stretches of time on battery. Pretty high-tech, and pretty cool from an IT guy's perspective.

Wycliffe and its partner organization SIL have been driving forces behind advances in defining Unicode standards (which defines how computer programs use specialized accent marks and characters). SIL has many software developers working on specialized software for Bible translators.

In all of these examples, missionaries are some of the first people to embrace these new technologies that can serve to improve our effectiveness at fulfilling the Great Commission. It is inspiring to work with a forward-looking, dynamic organization committed to using whatever means necessary to advance the Gospel and the task of getting God's Word to those who need it most.

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