People's reaction to technology varies. Some get sweaty palms while others are excited to dive in. To be more effective in our mission - helping reach people in France with the gospel and building them up in their faith - we need to use technology well. That's why the digital council, which both May and I are a part of, asked Agapé France for time to focus on technology during this year's national staff conference. This turned into not only a chance to present how we see God working through technology, but also practical workshops like defining your target audience, communicating via social media, using online tools, and maintaining a healthy balance in our digital lives. The staff members discussed in small groups how they currently use technology in their ministry as well as their hopes for how they can better harness that potential. May and her team held individual helpdesk appointments to answer technology questions, which varied greatly from person to person. This kind of checkup is vitally important to keep Agapé France running well. They resolved sign-in issues, taught staff to fill out their online giving pages, gave advice on computer or telephone purchases and counseled ministries on respecting privacy laws. My contribution to the digital ministry focus was a video highlighting the testimony of a girl named Gabrielle. She is a student in philosophy who, although she's from a non-believing family, started asking many existential questions. Her quest for answers led her to atoi2voir.com, one of Agapé France's web sites. Following regular contact with one of their coaches and also viewing the Jesus film, Gabrielle accepted Christ. She says she's never been loved like Christ loves her! The video was really well received, it was such an encouraging story to share!
Efrem came back from his two week trip to China eating with chopsticks like a pro. It was a little like throwing someone into the water to teach them to swim. If you want to eat, learn to use chopsticks! Musically, playing with the French National Youth Orchestra was an exciting experience. Efrem also made a lot of new friends, both French and Chinese, and it was a culturally rich experience. There were museums and landmarks like the comb museum, an ancient village, and the towering buddha statue in Wuxi. Efrem also got to roll Chinese raviolis and create paper cut-out artwork. The most lasting memories, though, are the food (authentic Chinese every meal), meeting new friends, and how cold it was when they visited the Great Wall of China. Overall, it was a great experience!