Instead of heading south for the winter, Texas residents Bob and Lea Price find themselves looking north as temperatures rise.
“We’re sort of reverse snowbirds,” Lea said.
Lea heard about BGEA’s Search for Jesus (SFJ) ministry just as volunteer opportunities were opening up less than two years ago.
Because she and her husband travel in their RV for several months out of the year, it was hard for Lea to find a consistent volunteer ministry. She started praying and asking God for a chance to minister to others, “and boy, oh boy, did God ever deliver.”
“I was immediately interested [in SFJ],” she said. “I was really intrigued.”
Lea received free training through the SFJ team and now volunteers as an e-counselor and discipleship coach. As an e-counselor, she chats live with people from all over the world via PeaceWithGod.net, offering spiritual guidance and communicating the Gospel. As a discipleship coach, she follows up with new believers, encouraging them in their faith and guiding them through an online discipleship program. More than 15 million people have visited PeaceWithGod.net since the spring of 2011.
One day in July, Lea spoke to BGEA by phone as her RV sat somewhere in the Colorado wilderness among deer and elk. When she isn’t volunteering with SFJ, Lea helps her husband run a risk management business. The couple also plays in a bluegrass band; he’s on the five-string banjo, and she plays the flat-top guitar.
Ten years ago, the Prices were hard pressed to find consistent Wi-Fi when they traveled. Now, they can access wireless Internet virtually anywhere. Lea uses the technology to talk on the phone and volunteer with SFJ.
Lea sits in a 40-foot motor home, the passenger seat turned around to face the living area. She uses a laptop to connect with the outside world.
At first, she didn’t think there would be much demand for her volunteer work with SFJ.
“I didn’t realize how much need there was,” she said.
Lea thought most people online would challenge her beliefs, but was surprised that so many people who identify themselves as Christians lack basic biblical knowledge and struggle with many of the same spiritual questions non-Christians do. She asks God to use her during online conversations and to help her make the most of what might be brief dialog. She also encourages online visitors to connect with a local church.
Lea recalls a few different situations she has faced with the people she talks to online.
One young woman she chatted with was pregnant and facing jail time. A Christian man Lea talked to wanted to marry a woman of another religion and didn’t know what to do. Another woman Lea mentored through the discipleship course had lost custody of her children and was dealing with the recent murder of her sister.
“Being able to communicate with people all over the world is just mind boggling,” she said. While some friends have been skeptical about using the Internet to spread the Gospel, Lea says, “Why not? … I think Jesus and the apostles would be right on board with that.”
The stories she hears can be heartbreaking, but others are “wonderful and glorious.” It’s her job to plant seeds, guide others in their faith and leave the outcome in God’s hands. Lea remembers one woman taking the discipleship course who wanted to learn more about the Bible but said she didn’t know enough about it to be in an offline Bible study. Yet throughout the course, Lea saw that the woman was articulate and could bring a lot to the discussion. She tried to boost the woman’s confidence and encouraged her to get involved in a church.
Finding a church to attend herself is challenging when Lea and her husband travel, but visiting different churches also gives her the chance to tell others about SFJ.
“This gave me something consistent I could do no matter where I was,” she said. And her husband is happy, too. “He sees how satisfied I am in being able to serve the Lord this way.”
You have a chance to get involved with Search for Jesus! Click here to find out how. Note that some individual volunteer opportunities are currently closed as we process and train other applicants. Leave your information so the Search for Jesus team can contact you when those opportunities reopen.