Henry David Thoreau wrote in his book, Walden, that “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.1” His was the idea that people (men and women included) live their lives in a silent mourning of opportunities missed, unfulfilled expectations, and dead dreams.
While I’m not one to argue with Thoreau about the ubiquity of desperation, I wonder if that desperation remains a silent one. I’d suggest that the Internet has made the life of quiet desperation a thing of the past. What once was repressed or distracted or drown out now seems to be spewing forth in a torrent of comments, posts, tweets. The ready access to communication, as close as our pocket or even our wrist and the seeming anonymity of it all makes voicing our desperation a tempting prospect that is as easy to do as it has ever been.
On one hand, it’s concerning. Never has so much information, sometimes about our deepest and darkest secrets been so easy to access. It’s enough to make any responsible parent think long and hard about what their children might be reading and viewing. Still, what if there was a productive outlet for people to express this desperation, and what could it mean for the church if we listened to what was being said?
Well, there does exist just such a place. It’s called journeyanswers.com (respuestasdelavida.com in Spanish), and it’s provided by Network211, a ministry focused on using creative means to share the gospel with the whole world. There, on those sites and others like them in 10 different languages, people can express their frustrations and receive hope for their situation. They can express their desperation and get an answer in return.
That’s right, those who are reaching out are finding help through the Internet. Each decision made, question asked, or prayer request submitted is queued to connectors, providing biblical responses, suggesting resources, and connecting virtual pilgrims to real faith communities. I know, because I’m one of them.
Since August of this year, I’ve entered into partnership with Network211 in order to organize the response to those reaching out for spiritual answers in Mexico. Our goal is to provide rapid, caring support for those in need, directing them as many of them take their first, faltering steps toward God. Since that time, our growing team has responded to over 250 inquiries, speaking into dozens of desperate situations, welcoming many into relationship with Christ and connecting all to resources designed to help them grow.
Now some of you may remark, “That’s all well and good, but how does this fit into your vision for filling the Yucatán with churches? Good question. This partnership is a long term evangelistic emphasis. As we promote the Respuestas de la Vida website throughout the Yucatán, more of our site visitors will come from this area. We, in turn, can respond to those inquiries and, when able, our team can offer home group Bible studies to those who are interested. Already, we’ve been able to refer two Mexicans to spiritual communities. Just think of the possibilities when Yucatecos begin to utilize this rich resource.
The world, as Thoreau has said, is full of desperate people, but these desperate people are silent no longer. Still, through Network211 and the ministry of Journey Answers and Respuestas de la Vida, the church is listening, and we’re not just listening, we’re helping.
1Thoreau, Henry D. Walden. Boston: Houghton and Mifflin, 1893. The Walden Woods Project. https://www.walden.org/documents/file/Library/Thoreau/writings/Writings1906/02Walden/Walden01Economy.pdf. Accessed 11/13/2015.
Photo credit: Despair by Lloyd Morgan is licensed under CC BY 2.0