BANGKOK—Mistaking me for someone who must be the most popular deity in the pantheon of Eastern gods, many international partners approach me the first two days of the International Ministries All-Partners Conference with the same hopeful question.
“Are you Chris Brown?”
Crestfallen, their enthusiasm shatters as I reply over and over again, “No. I am not Chris Brown and I cannot build an Internet in your village.”
At this conference, when the international partners are talking about Chris, they don’t always mean GARBC International Ministries Director Chris Hindal, although he’s well respected too. But Chris Hindal is not the techno-guru who has raised $1,700 more than his trip expenses just to give away three projectors, two laptops, and a bunch of cables to the international partners, many of whom are technically savvy but cash poor.
Today Pastor Prasad Sakile of the New Life Regular Baptist Society in Andhra Pradesh, India, walked out with a Toshiba projector and laptop. Pastor Sakile will be using the laptop to translate Regular Baptist Press curriculum into the Telugu language, and the projector to train Sunday School teachers how to use that material correctly. He has already trained more than 750 teachers with the material he has started to translate.
Chris Brown, the famous and revered one who calls himself a true geek, serves with TechPartner, a Cleveland-based nonprofit ministry dedicated to helping pastors and missionaries use technology tools and strategies that will help them reach the lost for Christ. He and his family are members of Grace Baptist Church, Westlake, Ohio.
“I am a geek who gets to serve the Lord with how He has made me. I am a geek, not a nerd!”
This group nearly venerates Chris not for what he knows but because he cares about them and their needs, and he is eager to share his expertise and give them the tools they can’t afford.
Chris didn’t come to this conference just to run the audio, video, and PowerPoint presentations with his little helper, his 15-year-old daughter, Kara. He came to invest in the Great Commission by sharing what he knows.
On Thursday afternoon, Chris spoke to a room full of international partners who listened attentively as he shared practical, creative, low-cost ideas and workarounds for communicating with other partners and spreading the gospel.
For example, the partners were most interested in effective ways to teach with PowerPoint, using the Internet to reach lost people, creating websites, and basic instruction on effective use of Facebook. Afterward, they expressed great appreciation for Chris’s coming to teach them.
After the evening session on Thursday night, Chris stood at the exit and gave everyone a thumb drive that included Bible study software; printable resources; books; video training resources; media resources; a year’s worth of Baptist Bulletin, Digital Edition, issues; and the newly created IPFBM comprehensive video that was shown at the opening of the business meeting.
Admittedly, a few pastors at this conference have asked for my business card, but my mine doesn’t have the cache of Chris Brown’s. Having Chris’s e-mail address in your pocket is like a passport to technology nirvana. Everyone wants Chris to come to their field and show them how they can improve the reach of their ministry and use technology to advance the gospel.
“I came to this conference to be a blessing to our brothers who are seriously sacrificing for the gospel. The time and money it cost us to get here and dealing with jetlag are no comparison to what these brothers do as they serve the Lord in their place of ministry, and I want to help them be effective and creatively using technology tools to help people see the love of Christ.
“The real sacrifice in my life sets all on my wife’s shoulders, as I have left her back home with our other three children with the pressures of home, school, sports, and church ministry. Coming to Thailand to minister for the Lord could not be possible without the help from my amazing wife, Amy.”
Darrell Goemaat is director of photography for the Baptist Bulletin.