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Guide to Internet Fishing Witnessing in Internet Chat Rooms
By NiteOwlDave
Missionary pioneer David Livingston would roll over in his grave if he knew how I was sharing the gospel across the world.
He'd want a closer look!
I share the saving message of Jesus Christ over the amazing World Wide Web by text and by voice, virtually every evening and often until daybreak if the fish are biting.
The Net allows me to chat with someone from Nairobi, Singapore, or Bute, Montana. They are a mere tap on the keyboard away.
I enjoy fishing for real, and the Internet is one giant fishing hole where many seekers are angling for the real truth about God and Jesus Christ.
It's difficult not to think of the early trail-blazing missionaries who battled disease and indescribable discomfort when I stab on the power button to boot up my trusty 'puter and, in comfort, sally off to a chat room.
Without leaving home, anyone with a relatively simple computer setup can engage Internet jabber-walkies like I do. It helps if you're not timid because you do run into all sorts out there!
By copy-and-paste, we can "send" copies of the Bible with an awesome audio option, the excellent hour-long Jesus Film in 56 languages, or type in handy Christian websites. Call them electronic tracts.
I recently asked a new Christian who fled to Thailand from Iran if he wanted an Audio Bible.
There was a pause. "How much?" he asked. I clucked as I pasted in http://www.audio-bible.com/bible/bible.html and hit the send button. "Not a bean," I said with a grin.
I could almost hear him leaping when he shouted in my ear a minute later.
"I don't believe this! You have no idea how this will help me. I can listen to God's word and improve my English at the same time.
"And, oh my goodness, I can forward this Bible website to my friends in Iran and elsewhere."
This guy was glowing in the dark!
Are we living in amazing times, or what!
One can wince with the cost of supporting missionaries dispatched from North America; typically $25,000 to support one American serving in Africa per year.
God bless the missionaries who take the gospel to the four corners of the earth, and often endure tough times. They are needed and bravely advancing the saving message of Jesus Christ. Bless them for being hands-on missionaries who preach, teach, help, show, and encourage.
I feel kind of guilty that my fishing hole is a wall away from the fridge, which is stocked full of lazy-guy snack foods. God can't be happy with my kick-back efforts to lead the lost to Christ, can He! Well, so far no lightning has hit the house!
For me, sharing the Good News via the Internet is a great fit.
Being retired, no financial support is needed. No visa problems. No funky-food health concerns. No language problems. No living-condition worries. No missing home. I am at home!
It's Wednesday night and I'm settling in, in front of my 17" monitor, with my Pentium II setup running at 450 megahertz, with 256 megabytes of RAM and 10.2-gig hard drive.
Being a relative newbie to this tech nonsense, I drop words like "gig", "RAM", and "modem," but I don't have a clue what they really mean. When it comes to understanding the humming computer and how the amazing World Wide Web and Internet work, I'm perhaps the dullest knife in the drawer. But I ain't exactly the butterknife!
All I know is, I get comfortable in my soft, swivel chair—smarties and bottled water always within arms' reach—fire up the 'puter, open up Paltalk (http://www.paltalk.com/) and Yahoo Messenger (http://messenger.yahoo.com/), head for the Christian chat rooms, and let out the line. The world is my oyster or, in my case, a monstrous fishing hole.
(I choose the Christian chat rooms because they generally attract true Christians, the curious or interested, in addition to the downright Christ-haters and arguers.)
What's my fishing line?
I private-message (or 'PM') most everyone in as many rooms as it takes to engage someone in a text or voice chat. I generally don't PM anyone who has a Christian-giveaway nic (nickname) like "Jesusfollower".
The text usually goes like this:
"Hi... Are you a Christian?"
If the response is "Yes," I reply, "Great, way to go! Be sure to share the message!"
I then drop an electronic tract, my website:
"I'm at www.niteowldave.com. GBU... Cya..." (God bless you... See ya...)
I then move on to the next person on the list. If I get a response, "No," I reply, "I like your honesty. A lot of people on here aren't Christians," which is certainly the truth.
I usually then type, "Do you really know how to become a Christian?"
The responses range from, "I think so," "I'm working on it," or, the most common, "I am Catholic." (I have found that many Roman Catholics I have chatted with are, for the most part, in a dense fog about eternal salvation. There's a specific ministry there for somebody!)
I reply, "Most people answer like that." I must remember to be polite and non-confrontational. My motto is: "Share the message, not shove the message." The Holy Spirit does the convicting, right?
I generally text chat for five minutes or longer. My real goal is to talk with the person. Most computers have a sound card, which allows one to "voice", or talk to them from my headset microphone to their headset or speakers.
Yes, I have led three people to Christ by talking to them through their computer's speakers. They type their questions or comments while I share the story. When they are ready to make a commitment, I voice a line of the "sinner's prayer" and I make them type it in the text window.
If a person is a seeker, I generally spend about two hours with them, making God's plan of salvation as clear as I possibly know how.
Before I lead anyone through the prayer of salvation, I underscore that the prayer is not to be said if there are any doubts or questions. I ask them to consider the prayer to be a vow between them and God. I advise them it is as binding and as serious as a wedding vow.
I find the secret to Internet witnessing is to be a good listener.
I don't like to argue! It's important to say, "That's interesting," or "I understand why you're upset about that!"
There are too many hillbilly Christian arguers on the Net who overuse the threat of Hell in Christian chat rooms. I often find myself having to present God as more caring.
If the questions or concerns are huge, I don't try to lead a seeker to Christ. I listen and comment, then add their name to my Friend's List and wait for another time to continue the conversation when we are back in the chat zone.
I stumbled across a good way to size up a person's spiritual understanding by asking,
"Suppose I was desperately seeking God and I asked you how I could become a Christian right now. What would you tell me?"
If the response is off the mark—and there have been some beauts—I pause and state, "Interesting... But are you aware that the Bible shows us that we can choose right now to become a Heaven-bound Christian? Do you mind if I quickly share with you what the Bible says?"
I'm big on the word choose, because we do literally choose to repent of our sins, and we choose to ask Christ to save us and be our Lord and Savior.
You don't need a personal web site to be an Internet Fisherman. Drop in the URL (the "www address thing") for a site which you feel supports or adds to what you are sharing. There are tons of good sites on the World Wide Web; that is, Christian sites like http://www.needgod.com/.
I keep a simple gospel tract on my desk for handy verse reference, What MUST I do to be saved?, produced by the American Tract Society.
Perhaps one of the biggest problems with leading someone to the Lord on the Internet is establishing follow-up. A voice in the night who reaches out to Christ may fade fast if they don't get their feet firmly planted in a church which preaches the Bible clearly.
Fortunately, I have a good Christian friend on here in Neville Christensen (http://homepages.paradise.net.nz/nev/), who does an excellent job of sending out daily gospel readings, along with 31 solid Christian web sites.
I refer all new Christians to him. He often engages them in follow-up conversation on Paltalk and Yahoo Messenger, where I met this man of God. The fact that Neville lives in New Zealand and I live near Toronto, Canada, and winter in south Florida, has no bearing. Using the Internet, we're a half-second apart.
Recently, I had a guy whom I led to the Lord phone a Baptist church in his home town while I waited. The next day he was given a ride to a Bible study. That Sunday, he attended church. There is a growing US Baptist church directory website at http://www.abc-usa.org/search/loclhome.htm, so follow-up can be done by simply phoning or e-mailing a church and suggesting a pastor contact the new Christian.
(Incidentally, this story is not a commercial for the Baptist church. I am not a Baptist, but the Baptist salvation doctrine is solid.)
A disappointing fact of life on the Net is that Christians often squabble in these chat rooms. There's nothing wrong with a punchy, knock-'em-down debate, but unfortunately they often develop into harsh name-calling.
I'm sure the Christ-haters and Christ-seekers are confused by this, or love it. Christians who want to argue theology should set up their own rooms. Unfortunately, they seldom do and thus play right into the Devil's hands. It makes you sad and mad!
Sometimes, the debates between Christians and Catholics, or with cultists, are quite good, with solid, meaty exchanges. Sometimes I offer my two-cents worth.
On my computer, I have assembled 100 or so good Christian web addresses, and a collection of handy-dandy verses.
I seldom take the microphone in the chat room public forums because I prefer to share one-on-one. But when I do, I type in an appropriate Bible verse or a clarifying web address.
It's quite simple, then, to "copy-and-paste" a selected web address, verse, or verses into the text window of the chat room. Cool, huh!
Listed here are some of the web sites which I often use for witnessing. Check 'em out.
Good fishing!
Good Christian Websites
1. The Jesus Film. (Offered in 56 languages. A must-see.)
2. How to get to Heaven from the Internet?
3. The Four Spiritual Laws. (How to get saved!)
4. The linked Bible. (Excellent.)
5. Creation vs. Evolution. (Short videos.)
6. Audio Bible
7. Billy Graham home page
8. Christian Answers Network
9. Good Christian links.
10. Becoming a Christian.
11. Why the Bible? About religions?
12. Are you going to Heaven? (With video.)
13. Excellent meaty Bible investigative resource