BGEA’s Internet evangelism ministry offers volunteer opportunities for Christians who want to reach people with the Gospel without leaving home. Ministry volunteers are all ages, but many of them are retired—and eager to serve online.
82-Year-Old Sharpens Computer Skills to Reach World for Christ
Beverly Jones flips through her Bible while talking on the phone. She’s looking for Psalm 92:14 and reads it out loud when she finds it. “They still bear fruit in old age,” she reads. “That’s what inspires me.”
Beverly is one of BGEA’s many Internet evangelism volunteers over the age of 65. She’s 82 and volunteers as a chat coach. She chats with people online through the evangelistic website, PeaceWithGod.net, answering spiritual questions and directing online visitors to Jesus Christ as the only lasting hope.
Beverly, of Georgia, was watching TV one day when she heard Franklin Graham talk about Search for Jesus, the Internet evangelism ministry. He talked about ways people can get involved in this global mission field.
“He said that all it takes is a working computer and a desire to do it,” Beverly said, then laughs. “He didn’t say anything about you have to know how to work the computer. … The only thing I really knew how to do was email.”
Beverly went through the necessary application and training process to be a Search for Jesus volunteer.
In the meantime, she went to the library for some video tutorials on using a computer. She took a senior citizen’s class on the same topic and asked a couple of people from church for help. Search for Jesus also offered training and support.
“I was making headway, but it was taking a long time,” she said.
Then she found out that the Search for Jesus team would be nearby in Atlanta, Georgia, to meet volunteers just like her. That’s where she met her area coordinator, Cheryl McClure. The pair live close by, and Cheryl arranged to come by Beverly’s house to help her navigate the Internet. As a fellow volunteer, Cheryl knew exactly what Beverly needed to do.
“After that, it was pretty quick,” Beverly said.
The seasoned volunteer is retired from banking. She teaches Sunday school and works with a children’s ministry. She’s always liked Billy Graham, she said, and can now say she’s part of his ongoing ministry through the Internet.
“I just love the Lord. He is the joy and rejoicing of my heart,” she said. “I want to serve Him.”
Beverly has been a Christian since she was 27. Ever since then, she has witnessed to people and handed out Gospel tracts. Now she has the world at her fingertips. As a chat coach, she has led four people to Christ since February.
“One said, ‘I’m crying so hard I can hardly see the keyboard.’ I said, ‘Well that’s a good cry.'”
Retired Physician Finds a New Calling
Bill Farr is another Search for Jesus volunteer over 65. He’s a 72-year-old retired physician who owns a 700-acre cattle ranch in Georgia. He heard about Search for Jesus at The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville, North Carolina, and now serves as a chat coach.
“It’s very gratifying,” he said.
Bill gave his life to Christ at age 17, but “got lost” for about 50 years after entering medical school. He went to church for weddings and funerals, but that was it. Then five years ago, facing heart surgery, a friend took him through the Gospel story, which Bill had never fully understood. He rededicated his life to Christ and has since survived a heart attack and getting hit by a car on his bike.
“I figure He doesn’t need me up there yet,” he said.
As an editor for an international hospice organization, Bill was used to using a computer before volunteering with Search for Jesus. What makes him want to volunteer?
“Our country and the world is in terrible straits,” he said. “There’s more atheism going on than Christianity.”
Many people Bill chats with online are Christians—or think they are, but are worried about their salvation.
If online visitors aren’t Christians, he takes them through each page of PeaceWithGod.net, a site that presents the Gospel and allows people to chat with trained volunteers like Bill. As online visitors go through the pages of the website, Bill answers any questions they might have. When they get to the end, he asks if they are ready to give their lives to Christ. He also points them to a couple of BGEA websites, like GoingFarther.net and Know Jesus, for follow-up and discipleship.
Bill and his wife, Elsa, hosted a picnic for a handful of regional Search for Jesus volunteers at their ranch in September. They got to know each other and encouraged each other in their ministry.