Global Adventist Internet Network (GAiN), is a community of Adventist media professionals from around the world. Their goal is to “foster the use of communication, technology, media and the internet to help the Adventist church carry out its mission.”[i] For the past 16 years, the network has held annual conferences to “educate, train and collaborate on finding new ways to reach communities” with the gospel. These conferences are “facilitated by the denomination’s Communication Department and the Office of Global Software & Internet (OGSI).”[ii]
This year, due to the coronavirus, the conference was held virtually from November 30 to December 3, with 3,000 registered participants from the Philippines, Ukraine, Indonesia, Africa, the United Kingdom, Lebanon, the Caribbean, Russia and many other countries.
The theme for GAiN 2020 was “I Will Go—Exploring Our Digital Future” a title aptly mirroring the strategic focus of the Adventist Church. The conference featured testimonies from people who are succeeding in ministry in the digital world, short reports from World Church regions, and training sessions by experts who shared best practices and tips.
Keynote presentations included remarks by Tim Sanders, a New York Times bestselling author and vice president of Customer Insights for Upwork, an online platform that connects businesses with freelance talent from around the world; and Martha Gabriel, an internationally acclaimed writer, author, speaker and researcher.
Sanders spoke specifically on the benefits of hiring independent contractors. Referencing Melissa Valentine from the Center of Work, Tech and Organizations at Stanford University, Sanders said that in the future many organizations are going to transition to a smaller core group of “fulltime team members who…bring all the specialized skills in at the cloud level working on demand. And, since they’re [the organization] only paying for consumption, meaning the talent and work, as opposed to a retainer, meaning salary and benefits, they actually get more people working on their problem.” This allows organizations, such as the Church and its entities, to produce a higher volume of quality material faster than they would’ve been able to create otherwise.
Gabriel touched on innovation and creativity in the digital age. She shared that technology plays a huge role in reshaping societal reality. And with the new reality of the world in which we live, with the explosion of the Zoom era and media saturation, how do we stand out and make a difference? How can we reach people effectively? How can we use media to further the cause of Christ?
As Mark Finley shared during his segment on Wednesday during the conference: “Seventh-day Adventists are a people of destiny. Our movement has been raised up by God to proclaim His last day message with the world.” Referring to the Three Angel’s Messages in Revelation 14:6, Finley pointed out three things: the message is urgent, it is universal, and it is eternal. It is never irrelevant. “I’m convinced that one of the ways God is using, and will continue to use in the future, to spread His message of the Three Angels is by internet, social media and YouTube.”
He has seen this in a personal way with his church in Virginia. Their YouTube ministry has expanded exponentially over the past four years under the leadership of member Matt Gray. For example, a video on the book of Daniel, published on their YouTube channel in 2016 gained about 30,000 views in 3 ½ years. That same video, after some trimming and optimizing, now has 950,000 views.
This is something every church can do! Gray says, “If you are trying to create video content, if you are trying to reach a group of people or the world with the Advent message, you just simply cannot ignore optimization; you cannot ignore YouTube, the largest video viewing platform in the world.” Their channel has views from every country that allows YouTube.
One especially inspiring testimony during the conference came from Angelyn who has been working as a social media admin for almost four years. The 17-year-old shared that when she started her online ministry, she went in blindly. No one offered help, and she was nervous to ask her pastor for assistance. As the ministry began to grow and spread across the Philippines, it soon became too much for her and she cried out to God for help. “I can’t do this, Lord,” she prayed. “I’m still young, Lord! I don’t know how to handle this mission.” She felt discouraged and alone.
Then came the pandemic. Angelyn says she was able to use her social media platform to encourage others with the gospel who are also experiencing depression. “I never thought I could do such a thing!” Angelyn exclaims. “As a 17-year-old girl, with no expertise in such things…like, I’m not in IT; I’m not a teacher; I’m not good in English, but God really used me in the ministry and I’m really so blessed by that.”
This is just one example of how Adventist communicators are using their influence and digital platforms to “reach a world in desperate need of the hope that only a relationship with Jesus can bring.”[iii] In spite of her limitations, Angelyn was able to make a difference in the lives of hundreds of others, touching them emotionally and spiritually from the screen of her phone.
Imagine the global results if each member used their social media accounts to share the gospel!
As Neves said in response to Angelyn’s testimony: “If 10%...had your passion, Jesus would’ve come.” This is something that everyone, everywhere can do to reach people for Jesus.
[i] Retrieved from https://gain.adventist.org/about-gain/ on December 7, 2020.
[ii] Retrieved from https://awa7.org/about-gain-global-adventist-internet-network-gien on December 8, 2020.
[iii] Retrieved from https://gain.adventist.org/conference/2020-conference/ on December 8, 2020.