Have you ever thought about putting on a T-shirt with the words "Talk to me I'm a Christian" and then sitting on a seat in a busy shopping centre, with an empty chair beside you... what do you think would happen? Do you think anyone would come?
This is what we do online every day at Chatnow.org - and daily we have 80-100 people taking that seat beside us and talking to us, asking questions, looking for answers and hope. People from all over the world queue for the opportunity to sit on that seat, but sadly some queue for a while and then walk away because they feel they have had to wait for too long.
Chatnow provides people with the opportunity to chat privately and anonymously with a Christian volunteer at any time of day or night. Our aim is to help every chatter take a step closer to Jesus and to introduce them to His local church. Here are the stories of two people who, through searching on Google, saw the empty seat and decided to sit down.
A Muslim man explained to us, "I am not very religious I guess, I feel bad saying that, it's really my parents and wife who are more religious than I am". Our volunteer talked about how knowing that Jesus' love and care, really helped her in life. He replied, "I don't think I want to convert or take a drastic step like that but I really am happy for you and it gives me joy listening to your experience." They continued to chat about his struggles and fears and then when our volunteer asked, "is there anything else I can help with", he replied, "would you mind sharing more about your personal experience with Jesus". The volunteer took the opportunity to explain the gospel and his response was, "I find what you told me really touched a chord, it moved me and I haven't felt that way in ages, having a relationship with Jesus would be special". After more chatting this man said, "I can feel what you're saying, my heart believes it as the truth". He then prayed, by typing online, saying sorry to Jesus and telling Him he wanted to follow Him.
A married lady, with a young family, told us how every weekend she took cocaine, but always regretted it and planned not to do it next time. When asked if she had any spiritual beliefs she explained that she was never usually a spiritual person but that, "right now I have never felt like I have needed god more!" She had many questions about if there's a God then why various things still happen? Including, "why do people I love suffer so much?" After hearing about Jesus she asked, "Is god disgusted with me? How do I go about following him and changing my life?" After praying to give her life to follow Jesus she said, "Got me in tears here, I burst out crying because when I said it and typed it, I meant every word so much I felt it. I have never wanted something so much in my life".
If you are interested in sitting on a virtual seat with your Christian T-shirt on then we'd love to hear from you - visit www.chatnow.org/volunteer for more info.
Here are two tips for those of you who would like to do your own internet evangelism with your own group of friends...
1. Use Facebook to let your friends see the Christian you - make a point of posting regularly enabling your friends to get an insight into your life as it happens - with regular posts you can naturally include some posts about your Christian faith interspersed amongst other subjects... I don't mean preaching at people, but just naturally allowing what you believe to permeate through the things you say, by talking about Jesus's impact on your daily life in a natural way. Your friends can choose to read or not read, but they will learn that He is an important part of your life and that may cause them to wonder why?
2. Use a "signature" in your emails to say something or link to something that will help people understand you and your beliefs, again this could be a month by month progression with the "signature" changing each month or perhaps you could use a number of different links / comments for different circles of friends. Again take it one step at a time and aim for the "long game" so people can get to know you and what you stand for rather than feeling imposed on and preached at.
Let your online life be a natural extension of your offline life - be real, be honest, be respectful and be natural.