The way we communicate has changed.
The way we communicate has changed. In 1871, David Livingstone, a medical missionary and explorer, had been searching for the source of the Nile River for seven years. He had not been able to communicate with his friends in England. Journalist Henry Stanley was sent to find him. Stanley searched for seven months before meeting Livingstone in a village on the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika. One hundred years later, you could make an international telephone call from Zambia, but it required a reservation several days in advance. Today the editors of the Africa Study Bible have had many Skype meetings with people in three or four continents at one time.
We Live in the Digital Age
The way we receive information has changed. When Africa’s first newspapers began in the early 1800s, information about events in other countries took weeks to reach the readers. In the 1920s radio was introduced, and in 1959 Africa’s first television broadcast began in Nigeria. Today anyone in Africa with a cellphone can find out what’s going on anywhere in the world.
Modern technology has many benefits.
Cellphones, e-readers, the Internet, tablets, computers, and of course smartphones have changed the way we communicate and our ability to get information. Computer games, virtual reality, and technology yet to be developed will change the way we entertain ourselves and form our worldview. Modern technology has opened communication with Africa to the rest of the world and opened the rest of the world to Africa. But such modern technology can be used for good and for bad.
Because traditional African villages were relatively isolated, parents and elders of a village could instruct their children with authority in village traditions and values. But as a proverb says, “The person who has not travelled widely thinks his mother is the best cook.” Because the world is now open to children through the media, the voices of their parents and elders are not the only ones they hear. This puts a responsibility on parents to teach their children the things of God so that they are able to recognise the voices that will help them in their faith and those that will be destructive to their faith.
The Opportunities of Modern Technology
Radio, television, and the Internet can be effective tools to advance the kingdom of God. They can reach countries where missionaries are not welcome. Although broadcasting church services can be of benefit to those who cannot travel to a church, it can also be negative because preaching should be aimed at a specific audience. More effective use of modern media are stories and drama, children’s programming, interviews, in-depth teaching, news from a Christian perspective and more. Social media has also proven to be an effective tool for reaching people with the gospel. Modern technology has many benefits.
Effective uses of modern media are stories and drama, children’s programming, and interviews.
Urban churches can build websites for communicating with members and for Bible studies. One lady who disciples international university students maintains contacts and conducts group Bible studies with the students over the Internet after they return to their own countries.
Proper use of television and the Internet can become a means of wholesome entertainment for the entire family. However, it requires maturity and responsibility. Children can be taught to know the difference between a “want” and a “need” when they see an advertisement. Conversations early in life may curb a child’s tendency to think life is about obtaining more goods when they are older. Parents can discuss what “viewer’s discretion” means and why children should not watch shows marked “mature” or “restricted.” This leads to teaching about what it means to live a Christian lifestyle, which parents should not just teach to children, but demonstrate as well.
Set an Example
Christian families can be the light of the world by demonstrating their ability to make godly choices.
Christian families can be the light of the world by demonstrating their ability to make godly choices. The ideas and values that they respond to in the content of modern media can be excellent examples for others. But having information devices such as cell phones, computers, and e-readers in our homes brings mixed blessings. We should be concerned with the effect on our body, mind, and spirit of using information devices. Christians should be concerned with the content that is available. But the devices themselves are seductive and how much you use them increases without your noticing it.
Editor’s note: This article is the first half of a longer piece, found in the Africa Study Bible. You can read second half tomorrow.