By / Apr 19

Recently, I was reading a book and was impressed by the scholar’s careful exposition, nuanced approach, and charitable engagement with critics. Naturally, in the age of social media, I decided to look up the author online and was surprised by what I found. It seemed that the scholar was acting a certain way on one medium and a different way on the other. Social media tends to tempt a number of us to post things that we would never publish in a book, much less say in person to another human being.

“The medium is the metaphor”

There is often a significant disconnect between how we portray ourselves online and then personally with others. This is notable because social media and digital culture tends to bifurcate our lives, giving us the impression that we have an “online” life and a “real” life. We frequently use technology to portray ourselves in certain ways depending on the medium, where the medium often dictates to us how we are to live, understand truth, and navigate the tensions in life. Neil Postman, in his classic book Amusing Ourselves to Death, describes this reality by using the phrase “the medium is the metaphor.” He writes how the medium in which something is communicated has significant bearing on the content itself and the reception of that message.

Postman describes this phenomenon by saying, “Major new medium changes the structure of discourse; it does so by encouraging certain uses of the intellect, and by demanding a certain form of content—in a phrase, by creating new forms of truth telling” (27). Earlier in the book, he writes how this concept may also be portrayed in the Bible when God forbids his people from making images of him in the Decalogue (Exo. 20:4) because he knows that it will alter the way that his people see him and hear his call on their lives.

Postman claims that every form of media favors a particular kind of content, and these forms are able to take command of a culture, shaping it toward a particular end. He argues that the rise of television media significantly altered the way that we thought about the world, the nature of truth, and even how we structure our lives. It became both a “meta-medium” that directs our knowledge of the world as well as a “myth” that functioned below our conscious awareness (78-79). He deems these new forms or methods of knowledge “dangerous and absurdist” as they replaced the prior emphasis on the written word.

Since Postman died in 2003, we can only speculate how he might describe the exponential breakdown of truth and ways that we process information in 2021 with social media. I can only imagine that he would be even more alarmed at the dangerous perversions of “truth” from conspiracy theories, fake news, and deepfakes, as well as the disconnected lives that people exhibit online, in print, and in person.

What does this mean for us?

So if Postman is correct—and I think he is—then what does that mean for those of us who inhabit this age of social media?

First, we each need to recognize how digital tools like social media are constantly shaping or discipling us each day. We must realize that the power these digital mediums have over us is not only altering how we think about truth, the world around us, and our neighbors but also altering how we depict ourselves. The reality is that we often mimic what we see online to the detriment of our souls and public witness.

Why is it that we tend to post takedowns without context or subtweets of those with whom we disagree? Why is it that we feel we must comment on every bit of news, especially on things about which we have little or no prior knowledge about? Why is it that we will spend countless amounts of time crafting a perfect post that someone will spend mere milliseconds reading in order to garner additional likes, shares, or engagement? Why is it that we will act charitably and gracefully toward someone in person or in long-form writing, only to turn around and seek to disgracefully dunk on them with an uncharitable post, clickbait title, or angry rant just to be seen as the right kind of person to our own tribe or to appease our naysayers?

While these issues are complex and much more can (and should) be written on these issues, we need to see that the medium itself is encouraging and shaping us toward that end. But it is far too easy to scapegoat the platforms or technologies today, rather than taking personal responsibility for our own actions and for the disconnect in our digital lives.

Second, we need to recognize that we think the digital world is cut off from reality. We tend to view it like a private megaphone that we can use to say and do things that we never would otherwise. Social media can easily become merely performative and fuel our addictions to self aggrandizement. We build platforms on outrage and then seem surprised when our outrage fails to satisfy. Thus, we must continue to dial it up in order to keep people coming back as they grow more and more desensitized to this type of content.

This point was brought home to me over the weekend when a friend and former pastor of mine posted about how he recently heard two different stories that detailed how someone’s online presence affected their “real life.” Both stories involved a person either being hired or being passed over for a professorship based on their online activities and public disposition. He explained how our online activities have become part of our resumes. While the medium of social media may encourage or even allow us to divide our lives in some type of digital fairyland disconnected from reality, the things we do online are very public and will have long-lasting effects on us, not only in terms of job opportunities but also on our souls. 

Each person must evaluate these things for themselves and reach a conclusion about how to move forward in this digital economy. Some will intentionally step back from social media and pursue obscurity online as they invest in the people and places right in front of them. Others will use digital platforms to encourage, challenge, and teach others but must do so with their eyes open to the detriments and dangerous effects of these tools. While we may think we are fighting the culture war or protecting the sheep through our digital engagement, we may actually be leading others and even ourselves astray by failing to remember that we are called to be above reproach in all places and through all mediums (Titus 1:6-8), and to model Christlikeness as members of the body of Christ.

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By / Dec 14

For many evangelicals, the question of our nation’s penal system is one largely unconsidered. Our vast and growing prison system operates behind a curtain, mostly hidden from view. And yet, for many of our communities, it has a profound and long-lasting impact.

Biblical revelation forms the foundational reality for Christian thinking. We should be leery of jumping into any moral or ethical dilemma without first considering the biblical parameters for righteousness and justice. Beyond that, faithful Christians can have a variety of opinions and convictions, even disagreements, as we all strive to submit to biblical authority. I know this is the case with discussions about incarceration, criminal sentencing and justice. Perhaps we can seek to find some common ground though.

As Christian citizens in a democracy, we understand that the “power of the sword” in Romans 13 has been entrusted to us, the people. And it is we who will give an account to God for how we have stewarded that power. So we cannot choose to look the other way when it comes to incarceration.

American justice and the current crisis

While the United States comprises five percent of the global population, our nation houses 25 percent of the world’s prison population. That’s a staggering number that tells a story. For instance, look deeper into those numbers, and you will find that black men are disproportionately incarcerated. Take a second look, and you will see that the rate of incarceration for women has surged dramatically in the last three decades. All of this comes at a moral cost and brings measurable implications to our communities and churches. Unfortunately, evangelicalism’s silence on this urgent moral issue is deafening.

Faithful Christians can and will disagree over a host of policy questions when it comes to how to ensure a just and equitable penal system in this country. We need to be able to have civil and gracious dialogue even when we see things differently, especially among our Christian communities.

But surely we can all agree that the status quo is woefully unacceptable. Not only is it inefficient, it is also immoral. So let’s at least agree to have the conversation. Let’s agree to start talking about this. Let’s commit to listening well, learning, and then seeking ways in which our churches and communities can be faithful.

Here are three areas where an evangelical social ethic must be brought to bear on our American prison system.

First, the racialization of American incarceration raises troubling questions about enduring racism.

Right now in the United States, the statistical odds suggest that one out of every three black men will likely be incarcerated at one point in his life. In contrast, only one out of 17 white men will. The disparity also exists for Latino men, one out of six who will likely be incarcerated.

Why is this? Some will suggest that black and brown men are just more likely to commit crimes, especially drug related offenses that comprise so much of the surging incarceration rates. But Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness documents the various ways in which the American penal system is structured in an inherently inequitable way. Evangelicals can and should have healthy dialogue and even disagreement on what might prove to be the best solution to the problem. But surely we can agree that a prison system that is incarcerating this many of our nation’s black men is scandalous.

Second, the dramatic increase in female incarceration comes at a tremendous cost.

One of the neglected realities of our incarceration is the way women have entered into the system. In fact, between 1980 and 2010, the number of women in prison increased by 646 percent. The racial disparity that is endemic among male prisoners is also at play here. The lifetime likelihood of imprisonment for black women is one in 19, while it is one in 118 for white women.

This brings a host of ethical and moral problems. For example, women can be shackled during labor and delivery in 13 states. While the Federal Bureau of Prisons ceased shackling pregnant inmates, these states have not addressed the issue in their respective systems. And the majority of children born to imprisoned women are immediately separated from their mothers. Only a handful of states have adopted creative models to provide continued opportunities for qualified inmates to stay with their children. The National Women’s Law Center reports that only thirteen states provide a prison nursery system for qualified mothers, and of these, only two allow children to stay beyond the age of two.

Third, we should be leery of any system that profits on the misery of another.

It can never be Christian to profit from another’s misery. Throughout the Bible, God makes clear to his people that righteousness and justice never bow before the idols of profit. Southern Baptists have rightly spoken in the past against predatory systems that profit from the misfortune and suffering of others. For example, messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention adopted a strong resolution in 2014 rightly lamenting the prevalence of payday lending operations that prey upon the poor and vulnerable.

While there may be a number of creative solutions in privatization, we should at least give due consideration to the inherent challenges in the commercialization of our nation’s prison systems. While a free market is right and good for economic development, it is a horrible model for serving justice.

Private prison companies now take in a combined $3.3 billion in annual revenue, while the federal prison population has more than doubled between 2000 and 2010. What if the financial incentives for these companies were not tied to capacity—the number of inmates housed—but to demonstrated success in rehabilitation and lowered recidivism rates? Surely we could leverage the economic interest in a better and more productive way.

As it stands now, nearly two-thirds of these private prison contracts require that state and local governments maintain a fixed occupancy rate, usually of 90 percent, producing a system built to incentivize incarceration. Most often, if they fail to meet those thresholds, taxpayers are expected to foot the bill for empty beds. This system has produced its fair share of scandals too. Perhaps the most notorious was the “Kids for Cash” scandal where two judges were convicted of receiving $2.6 million in kickbacks from private prison companies for sending more minors with unusually large sentences.

In many of these private prisons, inmates receive as little as 17 cents per hour for labor of up to six hours a day. In contrast, inmates in federal prisons can work more hours and earn $1.25 an hour. What often goes untold is how many Fortune500 companies are now reliant on low-cost prison labor. Of course, there is moral and economic complexity involved in an issue like this. We should be leery of simplistic generalizations or solutions. But, by and large, Americans in general, including evangelicals, are not even involved in the conversation.

This only scratches the surface of some incredibly complex moral questions regarding the American penal system. Surely, there’s more to say about how we treat prisoners while incarcerated, the challenges posed by incarcerating more and more of our nation’s children, and questions as to the democratic rights of prisoners, particularly those convicted of felonies, to vote. These issues require more conversation from the broad spectrum of evangelicalism and they need not polarize our churches. Surely we can learn and listen together, as a people marked by both grace and truth.

So where do we go from here? What does it mean to make disciples of Christ in the age of mass incarceration?

God’s care for the prisoner

You might be tempted to think that the incarcerated are “the scum of the earth.” And don’t forget those “violent offenders.” They’re the worst sort, right? Well, have you considered Moses? Here was a man who saw his fellow citizen being abused by an Egyptian supervisor and intervened. However it happened, when everything was over, Moses was guilty of murder and ended up a fugitive, a violent offender. There’s no small irony that years later, on the backside of a mountain, God revealed his law to this same murderer, commanding, “Thou shalt not kill.”

And what about David? Here’s a man who sees a woman who is not his wife one night and lustfully desires her. She’s married to another man, so David conspires to have him killed. His plan is successful, and he eventually takes the woman as his wife. It would take the prophet Nathan, not a district attorney or grand jury, to indict this conspiratorial killer.

And the Scriptures are full of men who were incarcerated. Joseph. Samson. Daniel. Jeremiah. John the Baptist. Peter. James. John. And yes, even Jesus was processed through the judicial system of his day and unjustly convicted and sentenced.

So we might think twice before we casually assume or generalize about the condition of those 2.4 million men and women living in our nation’s prisons. These are people, made in the image of God. And every one of them has a unique story.

Have you ever noticed how Jesus launched his public ministry? Luke 4:17-19 tells us how he entered into the synagogue in Nazareth, opened up the scroll, and read Isaiah’s prophecy: “to proclaim liberty to the captives” (cf. Isa. 61:1). Most gloriously and wonderfully for Christians, that certainly means liberty from the bondage of sin and death. But it does not mean less than that. It is also good news, right now, to those locked up.

This is also why Jesus specifically identifies the way we treat prisoners as one evidence of whether or not we truly know him (Mat. 25:36). The writer to the Hebrews also makes specific mention of our duty to “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you are also in the body” (Heb. 13:3). While these passages have in mind especially our fellow Christians incarcerated for the faith, it cannot imply that we neglect our unbelieving neighbor in the next cell.

Thank God for ministries like Prison Fellowship. Thanks to the enduring vision of Chuck Colson, evangelicals have been on the front lines of caring for the men and women who live in our prisons. Thank God for people like Dr. Harold Dean Trulear, a Baptist scholar and theologian who is helping so many to think biblically on these issues. But there is an overwhelming amount of work to be done. It is time for the evangelical conscience to be pricked. If we don’t lead the effort, who will?

By / Dec 11

I grew up in San Bernardino, and after last week’s events, I’m guessing you know exactly where that is.

Minus the blonde hair and a tan, I’ve been a California girl all my life. But to be honest, there are a hundred other places I’d rather live. I’ve often dreamed of green terrain, wide-open spaces and a slower pace of life. Most days, my husband and I would prefer to raise our son in a small town anywhere east of here.

It’s trendy to hate California. In fact, you’re considered hip if you’re from California but you loathe it enough to finally leave. The liberated find land elsewhere and recall their days of bondage with sighs of relief.

There are plenty of legitimate reasons to leave. Our crime rate is a crime in itself; the traffic turns even reserved personalities into road-ragers; we’re in the midst of a severe drought (if you thought California looked brown before, you should see it now); our cost of living makes grown men cry; and yes—we just had a terrorist attack, a mere nine miles from my house.

But here’s the crazy thing: despite a hundred reasons not to, I’ve grown to love this place. God is still at work here. This is a mission field ripe for the gospel harvest.

Remember Nineveh? A “great city” of 120,000 people, it is described as evil and wicked with a wickedness that came up before the Lord. Without a second thought, God could have destroyed the city as punishment for its vileness. Indeed, he threatened to—but out of his great mercy, he decided to give the people an opportunity to repent. The prophet whom God sent to preach to the Ninevites was bitter and begrudging. To Jonah, God’s compassion “seemed very wrong, and he became angry.” But God responded,

“Should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”

Can you believe God restrained his righteous wrath long enough to care about the number of people (and take note of their animals) in a city that had shaken its fist in his face? So, does God have compassion on the almost 39 million people in here too? And what about all of us who make up the United States? Does he have compassion on you and me? All of Scripture gives reason to shout a resounding “Yes!” The apostle Luke summarizes it this way:

From one man God made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.

God didn’t commission us to go and procure safe and comfortable places for ourselves where we can make a nice life. Like you, I’m prone to consider this world my home, my permanent residence, so everything from traffic to shootings disrupts my tidy little existence. (How dare someone hinder my happiness!) But God appointed us to the very places we live, to spread his fame in our corner of the world, and we don’t have long to do it. This is going down so fast it’ll feel like we barely blinked when we’re finally with Jesus.

What are you doing with this blink-of-an-eye?

While it may seem like I live in a God-forsaken state, I’m seeing daily evidence to the contrary. I know many Christ-loving Californians who are living out the gospel in their families, neighborhoods and workplaces.There are even those who deeply love and care for the Muslim community here.

By the Spirit’s power, these believers are reaching out of their comfort zones, past their fears and into a godless culture to do the work of God:

to proclaim good news to the poor

   to bind up the brokenhearted

       to proclaim freedom for the captives

           and release from darkness for the prisoners.

It only takes one step outside our front door to remember that we live among the poor, the brokenhearted, the captives, the prisoners. But these are the very ones God came for, wrapped himself in flesh-and-blood for, lived among and suffered alongside, and died for in order to save. Not long ago I was that poor, brokenhearted prisoner taken captive by sin. And so were you.

When I am tempted to fear or to join in the dialogue of disgust over California and our nation, this is the strong reminder I speak to my heart: Lay down your dreams of an idyllic place elsewhere. Stop whining about the conditions. Cry out to God for our country, our states, our cities, our neighborhoods, the Muslim community. Speak the truth and love loud.

Because God is still here, and He is doing a great work that you don’t want to miss.

By / Dec 8

A few weeks ago, Pew released new data on how Americans share their faith about their faith on social media and how much Americans consume religious content in both new (social) and old (radio/TV) media.

Working in social media, I was primarily interested in the social sharing numbers. Here is a bit of an overview (only U.S. adults were polled):

  • 46 percent of adults saw religious content shared online in the last week
  • 20 percent of adults shared something about their faith online in the last week
  • 27 percent of Protestants shared something about their faith online in the last week
  • 34 percent of white evangelicals shared something about their faith online in the last week
  • 15 percent of white mainliners shared something about their faith online in the last week
  • 58 percent of 18-49 year-olds saw something religious shared online in the last week
  • 31 percent of adults 50+ years old saw something religious shared online in the last week

Social sharing is on the rise, but that probably doesn’t come as much of as surprise. As social media becomes more like the Areopagus, the place where ideas are exchanged, of our day, the Church must recognize the importance of being present on social media and take steps to do so.

Here are 10 basic ways the Church can be missional on social media:

1. Don’t be a jerk.

Really the best apologetic for a Christian on social media is to not be counted among the troll tribe. The Internet, social media especially, is full of plenty of angry people. Kindness points people to Christ, especially on the Internet.

2. Ask how you can be praying for people on Facebook.

I always find this encouraging, especially when ministries do it. You or your ministry can ask for prayer requests early in the morning, and even though someone may not see it until their lunch hour, they may need some prayer and can let you know.

3. Share thought-provoking videos and blogs that might cause your friends/followers to ask about your faith.

I love sharing and reading blogs on Christian matters, and I see them shared a lot on social media. It’s popular content and can be good conversation material. Conversation surrounding compelling blogs is great, as long as we remember the importance of Christ-like kindness (see point #1 above).

4. Start a blog and share devotional material on it.

I started in the eighth grade! It’s never too early or late! Use it as a personal journal of sorts to reflect on life, ministry, and Scripture. Even if only six people read it, that’s six people you’ve probably encouraged that you wouldn’t have otherwise. Don’t blog to be famous. Blog to build others up, even if it’s just your family and friends.

5. Use your Facebook page to raise support for missions trips or church fundraisers.

Whether you’re using GoFundMe or something else, promote your fundraising through Facebook and other social media outlets. I’ve seen many friends do this for missions trips or adoptions, and it’s proven effective.

6. Give updates on teams on the mission field.

Did your Dominican Republic team win someone to Christ? How’s your Mexico medical missions team doing? Share as much as you can, taking into consideration those in more hostile areas, of course.

7. Create a Facebook group for you small group and use it as a communication hub for events, prayer requests, etc.

Facebook, though it certainly has its annoying quirks, is great for group communication. Start a Facebook group for your small group so you can easily share prayer requests, event information, and other helpful pieces of content. It doesn’t take much time at all and it can help with communication.

8. Youth pastors, consider Snapchat and Instagram to connect with your students.

I’ve recently asked a student if I could text him in the middle of the week to check in on how he was doing. He said, “Nah, I don’t text. You can Snapchat me though.”

I’m only 24, I use Snapchat, I work in social media for a living, and I was still floored by this.

The idea of a youth pastor using Snapchat is definitely controversial and would take serious precautionary measures, but youth pastors need to be where their kids are—I am a firm believer in that. Snapchat and Instagram are where all the students are today, and though both certainly have dangers, Twitter and Facebook do, too, if we’re honest.

Not without serious accountability checkpoints and security measures, youth pastors can post event information or send encouraging messages to students through Snapchat or Instagram. This is where students are, and with significant safety precautions, I think youth pastors could connect here.

9. Treat everyone you talk with on social media as if you’re talking to them in person.

It’s just courteous. Yelling at someone virtually is too easy today, and Christians would be wise to type to someone as if they were speaking to them. This helps us pursue Christ-like kindness.

10. Encourage people daily.

I have regular reminders in my phone to text or Facebook message certain friends on certain days of the week. I just recently moved away from my hometown, so a significant percentage of my friends are hundreds of miles away. Keeping in touch can be tough.

Texting, direct messaging, Snapchatting, or Facebook messaging friends and family is a great way to encourage and keep in touch with them.

By / Feb 7

SOCHI, Russia—Will Baptists have a witness at the Winter Olympics in Russia? Will it be safe from terrorists? Will other issues arise?

Marc Ira Hooks, one of IMB’s main strategists for the Sochi Olympics who was involved in outreach at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, spoke to such questions in an interview about this winter’s Feb. 7-23 games. 

Hooks is the creator/co-director of Engage Sochi, IMB’s initiative focusing both on church planting in the Winter Olympics host city and on outreach to Olympic competitors and guests from throughout the world. Earl Gillespie* is the other co-director of the project for the Feb. 7-23 Olympics in addition to serving as the Sochi city strategist.

Where did you get the idea for Engage Sochi?

Hooks: For whatever reason, maybe it was the time difference, it was late at night, we [Marc and his wife, Kellye] were sitting on the bed and I just remember the guy pulling out the envelope and saying, “The next Olympics will be in Sochi, Russia.” I remember looking at Kellye and saying, I don’t know how, why or whatever, but we’re going to be involved in that.”

What did you learn from the Vancouver Olympics that applies to Sochi? 

Hooks: As we came away from Vancouver, we started saying, we as the IMB, our concentration, our focus is on church planting. And while mass seed sowing is good and should be done, there’s more to reaching people with the Gospel than just giving them the Gospel and walking away. So, we wanted to create something that as people came into contact with the Gospel, that they were touched for a long period of time.

What is Engage Sochi?

Hooks: We want something that is a multi-tiered approach and … not just [during] the fortnight of Olympic competition in Sochi. We’re talking about reaching the people of Sochi before, during and after the games.

What are the plans for following up with people who respond to the Gospel?

Hooks: We want everybody that we come in to contact with to have the opportunity to continue the conversations that were started in Sochi. So, regardless of where that person is from, we want to connect them with a believer in their area who can make a relationship with that person and continue to speak with them about issues of faith.

What has gone on in Sochi in preparation for those coming? 

Hooks: For two years, we’ve had people coming and working with our church planters in Sochi, in winter and in summer. In the winter they are doing ministry in the mountains at the ski resorts and that kind of thing, and in the summer they’re doing beach reach ministry and ministry in the city. So as our friends come in these next couple of weeks, it’s just another phase of building Christ’s church in Sochi.

What sort of training has been given to those coming?

Hooks: This is a relational ministry and our folks will be coming and making relationships. Interestingly enough, the majority of our groups that are coming are performing arts kinds of groups. So we have a large men’s choir, we have a bluegrass band and a Dixieland band. We have a drama group coming and a church choir coming, and some people doing clowning. Basically, they’re going to be walking through areas, come together, perform, talk to people and disperse again. So a lot of it will have that flash mob kind of feel. They’re not doing scheduled performances on stages, they’re there to meet people and their performing arts are a way to be able to do that.

Are you frightened of the security issues?

Hooks: I would not use the word frightened, I would say I am concerned. It’s a healthy concern, however, I am confident in the Russian government’s ability to do what they say, and the Russian government has pledged that this will not only be the biggest Olympics in history, which I think it will be, but it’s going to be the safest Olympics in history. And so, while there have been threats made and have been other threats that have been carried out, I really and truly believe that from January through March, Sochi, Russia, is probably going to be one of the safest cities on the planet.

How potentially disruptive will Russia’s position on homosexuality be?

Hooks: There will be people who try to make this an issue, there will be people going to the games for that [reason], but the last reports that we’ve heard, demonstrations will be allowed; demonstrations over different issues, this being one of them, will be allowed in the city, but they will only be allowed in certain designated areas and people who are coming to demonstrate must have permits to do so, and that kind of thing. So, it’s not going to disappear and it’ll be an issue that’s there, and the media will cover it. But will it be a disruptive factor in the city? No, I don’t think so.

What city in the U.S. is Sochi most like?

Hooks: It would have to be some place in California. Sochi’s considered the longest city in Europe. It’s about 90 miles long and it wraps along the coast of the Black Sea. But in places, it’s only a mile wide. And the other thing, you can literally stand on the beach with the Black Sea to your back and see snow-covered mountains right there.

What would you want as your hope-and-pray-for result for Engage Sochi?

Hooks: It would be that multitudes of churches are planted around the globe as a result of this and that the people who come to the Sochi Olympics will be connected with a church planter, regardless of where they’re from. So, that’s the home run for us, that new churches would be planted in Sochi and beyond.

How can we include the Sochi Olympics in our daily prayers?

Hooks: We want to pray for all of our friends who will be in Sochi during the games and we want to pray that they are able to do the things that they are there to do. That they have more than just a pleasurable Olympic experience, that they are able to share the Gospel and to reach people and connect them to a church planting network. That’s number one.

Number two, you can monitor @Engage_Sochi Twitter account, and through this we will be doing updates and news for daily prayer requests.

And pray for our Engage Sochi staff who are responsible for the mechanics of this whole project, making sure people are where they need to be when they need to be there, and are safe in doing so.

And for open hearts and receptivity, that God would draw to us the people that we’re supposed to talk to.

*Name changed.

For more information on Southern Baptists’ efforts concerning the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, visit EurasiaStories. The site will be updated with stories, photos, videos, prayer requests and more during the Feb. 7-23 Games.

This story was originally posted here.