Our first computer was actually a well used one that friends of ours (retired from IBM) gave to us. He (Bill) was very generous with his computer knowledge, and it inspired me in the 90's to take (again) a beginning computer course through the local community college extension. Both Bill and Charlotte were old enough to be our parents, and they were both avidly using personal computers for email, games, and so much more! Charlotte was constantly on hers (yes, they each had their own!) using quilt programs to design and build quilts online. I was smitten, and bitten by the computer bug.
The first computer they gave us wasn't online at all, but it gave us the ability to keyboard, refresh my skills, and give the kids a basic introduction to using one. It seemed each time they got a new computer, they passed their older model to us, and it was nearly in time for our first child to go to college when we bought our first "new" computer and had it hooked up to dial-up internet; the only thing available in
I was loving the access to friendships through email, had gotten on a few social sites (what I'd considered Classmates back in the day), and had a Yahoo address so I could do a Yahoo Group, starting my first "Marina's Kitchen Table" page. I mostly wrote devotional messages then, and when women (or ??) would write back, it scared me to think of interacting with complete strangers, so I kept it in a "read only" mode so people couldn't comment.
It was when I'd gone to cook for a bunch of college kids at a missions training when I'd heard of Facebook for the first time. I actually got a denial letter from them when I tried to get signed up....I didn't have a .edu email address! Just months later I found out that they expanded their membership to include other people besides students, and I was in that first wave of members. My first friends on Facebook were college students that I prayed for and mentored from that missions training a few months earlier.
The rest is history!
I am SO thankful that God has allowed technology to be developed, and refined, in our lifetime. I remember those first computers from the 70's, one computer took up a whole 2 story building (and it's back up main frame was an identical building!) and everything was done on paper that had holes down the sides, and through cards that punched out little square holes. LOL I can't even recall the technical names for these things!! THAT's how long ago it was!!
I'm grateful for laptops (and smart phones!), and the reduction of costs so they are pretty much affordable for most people. I will always remember Skype-ing with our daughter in China, or chatting online with her at night when it was her morning. I recall being able to use Facebook to connect with friends that were in the Joplin tornado, and their family members in other countries. And of course, I treasure each time we get to FaceTime with our grandkids, seeing their eyes light up at seeing our faces.
A few years ago I learned of a great on line ministry, Global Media Outreach. They utilize the technology of today to present avenues for the Gospel to be presented online in countries around the world; often in places where information on God, Jesus, Christianity and becoming a Christian can not be presented in public. Christians around the world are online all the time to answer questions that come their way. They are, in fact, online missionaries!
I haven't taken the time to get signed up with GMO, but I have referred others to get involved with them (and know people that are!), and know that it's an amazing, effective, and beautiful tool that God's created, and a wonderful ministry to be a part of.
I know that there will always be risks involved in security, safety, and sinfulness, in technology. With God's help and using the gift of discernment, I pray that we'll get to use these tools to further the gospel of Jesus around the world, and keep them in perspective to our time with Him.
Thank You God, for technology!