1 Chron. 12:32 describes the sons of Issachar as "knowledgeable in the times." It is important to understand the cultural, technological and ideological trends to know how to contextualize the gospel message according to the times. It's not about changing the message, but it definitely requires the adaption of the methods. No successful fisherman baits his lines with his favorite food, he baits with what he knows the fish want. This is the point.
Since the boom of social networks, the expression "digital evangelist" has been coined to describe those who intentionally use their social networks to communicate the gospel with other Internet surfers. There is no doubt that new technologies open up fresh opportunities for evangelism. The following testimony illustrates this splendidly:
Ricardo Anaya is the first elder of the church in Boise, Idaho. His son’s name is Julián. From his earliest years, Julián attended church with his family. As time passed with its vicissitudes, and as he transitioned to adolescence, he gradually withdrew from the congregation and stopped attending altogether.
Julián said, "As I walked away, I never forgot the stories in the Bible or how I should treat people and that Jesus loved me and died for me, that always stayed with me. My father's words were certainly interesting, but as a child I found no pleasure in many of them, they seemed boring to me."
"My father never allowed us to go to bed without family worship ... singing hymns, studying the Bible, reading the writings of Ellen White and the prayer time we shared. My father, with the help of the Holy Spirit, helped me learn a lot about the Bible and about God," said Julián.
The sad thing was that Julián only knew about Jesus on an informational level, but he did not "know" Him personally; he never cultivated an intimate relationship with Him.
Julián said, "I could definitely see the good in my father because of his beliefs and his behavior, and my friends, knowing him, instantly respected him and somehow recognized that my father was someone different, without even knowing anything about him."
Isaiah 55:11 reminds us that the word that has come out of God's mouth will not return empty. Brother Anaya knew this truth, and his son's experience proves it.
In January 2023, Evan Fox, a young seminarian at Southern Adventist University, was challenged as part of one of his schoolwork assignments to find a person to give Bible studies to, so he posted an ad on his Facebook account. Meanwhile, that same day, before Fox posted his ad on Facebook, Julián and one of his sisters were talking about their need to reconnect with God.
After finishing their conversation, Julián's sister couldn't sleep and started looking on her cell phone. That's when she saw Fox's post. She was surprised, but she knew this Facebook ad was a response from God. She contacted Fox and put Julián in touch with the young theology student.
Julián recounted, “I wanted to get closer to God because things were not going very well for me, but when I prayed I experienced peace. I knew I had to look for a more personal relationship with God, but I wanted to relearn how to do it. At the same time, the need grew in me to teach others about that peace I felt when I prayed."
"That same night my sister couldn't fall asleep, so she picked up her cell phone and discovered Evan’s post and sent it to me right away. Fox and I connected online and started studying the Bible," said Julián.
Soon, the two young men were studying the Bible through video calls, and, in mid-January 2023, Fox and Julián decided to contact me, as pastor of the Boise church, and they let me know about Julián's desire to be baptized.
To God’s glory, on Feb. 4, Julián reconfirmed his love covenant with God through baptism as he was baptized by his own father. Shortly after his baptism, Julián married his girlfriend, and today they both attend church.
The prophet Daniel knew that a time would come when "the learned will shine" like Fox who decided to shine the light of the gospel as a digital evangelist.
Dan. 12:4 says that many will walk from one place to another — this can translate to browsing social networks today — wanting to know more — more of God’s love.