March 2016 Check IT Out!

Have you ever wondered how Christians become missionaries?  Are they just born into a missionary family, or does God do some miraculous work in a person’s life to push them into missions work?  Or maybe they have to go to a Christian university and earn a doctorate in theology?  Certainly any of those things can lead a Christian down the path into a missions career, and I believe that God does something miraculous in the life of everyone who trusts Christ as Savior, to forgive us and cleanse us of sin and grant us eternal life!

In our ministry, Krista and I were not born into missionary families, nor did we attend a Christian college and earn traditional Bible degrees.  When we began looking into mission agencies in 1996 we looked for months and talked with dozens of mission organizations before we found the place that the Lord was leading us to.  Research tools like the Internet were still in their infancy at that time (20 years ago now!) and so we relied on other more traditional forms of communication then, like the telephone and written letters.  How the modern world has changed since then!

This week I am helping with a conference for Information Technology (IT) professionals called “Check IT Out”.  This is one way that people who work with technology can find out about the need for their
Check IT Out participants intently listen to a presentation.
skills in missions, and investigate whether the Lord may be calling them to serve as missionaries.  Since IT professionals turn to the Internet first to search for IT-related missionary jobs, we have a website called which will show up in web searches.

Participants in this two day conference see the various ways that technology is used in missions.  They also get to hear from real missionaries serving on the field through a live video conference, and their spouses find out more details about missionary life, education options on the field for children, and other topics
Jaco and his wife share in a live Google Hangout from Manila, Philippines.
that are related to their families.  There are ample opportunities for them to meet one-on-one in person with staff and managers like me, who are working in their particular area of interest, so they can ask more detailed questions.

If we hear that someone’s skills are not needed in our organization, we let them know about other mission agencies which may need their skills.  Our primary desire is to see the Lord lead people to where HE wants them, not to direct every
Leading a tour of our IT department for the group.
person into our own organization!  Sometimes people finish the conference knowing that God is not calling them into missions work after all, and that is fine too.  They have a better awareness of the needs and they can be praying specifically and giving financially to others who are going into missionary service.

We have three Check IT Out conferences throughout the year.  Attendance at these conferences has been as low as 10 people and as high as 60!  During the summer we have a different, family friendly format for the Check IT Out conference which is spread over a week.  The conference takes place each morning and in the afternoons the families are free to do fun things on their own.  This has attracted more IT professionals with families.

Interns attending last summer's Check IT Out take a helicopter ride during their free time.

The other two day conferences can be difficult for a family to attend, when children would have to be away from school and their parents would be involved all day in a conference.  During the summer Check IT Out an IT worker can take a week of vacation from their normal job and then attend the
A family experiences the Off-road driving training course at JAARS
conference with his or her family.  They have time every day to do fun things while they are on “vacation” and then Mom and Dad attend the conference in the mornings while their children are entertained with other fun activities.

This option to find out more details about IT and missions is making it easier for IT pros to take the first steps into the missions world.  Many of them leave the conference with a clear plan of their next steps, and in some cases that is to officially apply to Wycliffe to start the membership process.
Family picnic with the IT staff during summer Check IT Out.

I am not a marketing or sales person, nor do I consider myself a professional recruiter.  But for this conference I am happy to share about my life experiences with others who have a similar background in technology and are also thinking about using their skills to serve the Lord.  We are thankful to God for every person He brings to serve alongside us, and it is exciting to see Him working in the lives of fellow Believers whom He calls into full time Christian service!