News From The Ranch – June 1999

The Newsletter of Eric Elder Ministries

Read how God is using the Internet to touch people around the world.  Also includes the Starfish story.

The Bigger Picture

I was recently encouraged when I attended the first Internet Evangelism Conference sponsored by the Billy Graham Institute for Evangelism. (I’d recommend you watch Ron Hutchcraft’s speech at http://www.webevangelism.org, under “Post-Conference Info.”)

People from almost two hundred different ministries gathered to share with each other how God is using the Internet to touch people around the world. As I listened to each testimony, the stories of what God was doing sounded remarkably similar to the ones we’ve experienced on our own web site. I caught a glimpse of the bigger picture of how God is using this technology in His overall plan.

When Jesus first said to the disciples, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” (Mark 16:15), they must have thought it was impossible. And yet what seemed impossible then is now entirely possible.

This year, over 100 million people are connected to the global Internet. With the push of a button, we can send a message to every country in the world within 1 second – all for the price of a local phone call.

The Internet has taken off faster than any other communication technology to date. It took only 6 years for 30% of the households in the U.S. to get connected to the World Wide Web. (It took 39 years for 30% of homes to hook up a telephone; 27 years for that many TV’s; and 16 years for that many computers.)

Email now makes up over 94.5% of all mail messages delivered in the U.S., compared to 5.5% that are delivered by “regular mail.” (According to the U.S. Postal Service, they delivered 198 billion pieces of regular mail last year, compared to 3.4 trillion handled by email.)

With so many people connected to the Internet, it begs the question: For what will it ultimately be used? Is it merely a tool to increase corporate profits, spread pornography, and distribute mass media? Or, is it possible that God is going to use this remarkable tool in an unprecedented way to express the love of Christ to a hurting world? Such thinking may sound idealistic, but God has done it before.

The Gutenberg Bible was the first book printed on the newly invented printing press in 1452. When people speak of the Gutenberg Bible, they link the invention itself with the spread of God’s Word all in the same breath. To this day, the Bible continues to be the most widely published book in the world.

With the Internet still in its formative years, it is not hard to imagine that God will also link this new technology with the spread of His Word. Why would we think that? Two reasons: 1) We have the most powerful delivery system ever known to man, and 2) we have the most powerful message ever delivered. That’s a combination for miracles!

God is on a mission for God. And He will use whatever means He can to reach as many as He can before the end comes. I’m thankful to live in such an age.

The Starfish

Having glimpsed into God’s cosmic plan at this conference, I came back to my computer with renewed vigor to continue to do what God has called me to do. I was getting excited to see that our web site is now visited over 1,500 times a month from people who want to hear more about the works of God. Then I saw another statistic. I saw that the Playboy site gets 5 million hits a day.

It made me feel a bit like a character in the book The Star Thrower by Loren Eisley. It goes like something like this.

Once upon a time there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day he was walking along the shore. As he looked down the beach, he saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself to think of someone who would dance to the day. So he began to walk faster to catch up.

As he got closer he saw that it was a young man and the young man wasn’t dancing, but instead he was reaching down to the shore, picking up something and very gently throwing it into the ocean.

As he got closer he called out, “Good morning! What are you doing?”

The young man paused, looked up and replied, “Throwing starfish in the ocean.”

“I guess I should have asked, ‘Why are you throwing starfish in the ocean?’”

“The sun is up, and the tide is going out. And if I don’t throw them in they’ll die.”

“But, young man, don’t you realize that there are miles and miles of beach, and starfish all along it. You can’t possibly make a difference!”

The young man listened politely. Then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves and said, “It made a difference for that one.”

We’re Not Alone

I know there are a lot of starfish out there, but thankfully we’re not alone in this task.

God is raising up workers to go into the harvest fields. He is raising up givers to send others into the fields. He is raising up pray-ers to pray for the harvesters (see Luke 10:2).

You may receive many letters asking for funds from worthy Christian organizations. I believe that’s because there is a huge task ahead of us and God wants all of us to be involved to the fullest extent possible.

Let me share about some of the starfish that are out there. A 17-year old man from the West Coast wrote me last week. He said he had recently given his life to the Lord, but now saw that God wanted him to give up his addiction to pornography and homosexuality. He didn’t know how he could do it, so he wrote for help. We talked in our Internet chat room until 1:00 a.m. He left knowing that God is in the life-changing business and He can change this part of his life, too!

A 48-year old man from the East Coast who found my site called yesterday to say he has gone into adultery and can’t find his way out. He’s battling thoughts of suicide and is about to give up on the Lord. We talked and prayed until he had hope that Jesus came to give us an abundant life, and that He forgave us of our sins so that we could be free!

I know there’s not one of you reading this who wouldn’t want to reach out to these people yourselves if they came to your door, to save them from death and destruction and to put them back on the path of life. But to do that, they’ve got to be able to find our door. God has called me to put my door on the Internet, and He is bringing people to it who would have never found it otherwise.

I’m glad to be on the front lines helping these people. But the troops at the front can’t last long without the troops in the back, to cover them from the enemy and to send more supplies. Many of you have helped us greatly to get this far. Let me say plainly: we need your help now more than ever. If you can commit to pray for us for the next 30 days, would you let us know? If you can send us an extra gift, or commit to a monthly gift if you haven’t already, would you do it soon? God is on a mission from God and He’s got a role for every one of us to play.

Please Pray with Us

Thank you Lord,

  • for letting us all take part in your great mission;
  • for bringing the harvest that is so evident before us;
  • and for bringing people right to our door.

And Lord, we now ask:

  • for you to raise up more workers, more pray-ers, and more senders;
  • for the full provisions needed to go forward;
  • and for more people to find their way to The Ranch so they can find their way to You.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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