Covid-19 Devotionals

On Data

We have had our electric fence checked a few times over the last year because as soon as it rains, the alarm is triggered. This normally happens at night when we are sleeping. It’s great to have this facility, but when it malfunctions it defeats its intended purpose. Today the technicians came to repair a fault their boss found last week. They also found an additional possible cause for the alarm triggering when it rains.

To me (though not to the technicians), the wiring seems complicated. It runs from the energizer to the eight stringed electrical fence before being looped in sequence to allow the current to flow through the all the wiring around the whole property. Long copper earth spikes are hammered into the ground and wired to the system to create a good earth. Because of the danger when touching the wiring, a warning sign is fitted every ten meters around the property.

The idea of an electrical fence with an alarm is twofold. The first is to keep criminals out of your property and the second is to sound an alarm indicating someone is trying to enter your premises illegally. Naturally, when the system malfunctions, for whatever reason, it does not fulfil its intended purpose. The technicians completed their task, and now we wait to see what will happen once the rain starts.

Another story doing the rounds over the past few days relates to WhatsApp and Facebook and them instituting new rules of use whereby they are said to collect data about the users. Many have decided to end their use of these platforms and have decided to use either or both Telegram and Signal (both of which I have been using for years). So many anti-WhatsApp and anti-Facebook messages have been doing the rounds, yet I heard a voice message saying that all other platforms already have in place what WhatsApp and Facebook are implementing. That is, WhatsApp and Facebook are catching up to the other platforms … and this is a legal requirement.

What is interesting is that whenever you sign a contract, you sign an agreement for your information to be used. Here is an example … you sign up for a new cellphone contract and somewhere in the fine print which you don’t read there is a clause stating you give permission for that company to permit advertising to be received on your number or for partners to call you with “specials” … like tele-marketing agents. You sign up for various accounts such as bank accounts, clothing accounts, municipal accounts, assurance and insurance accounts.

And what about clicking “yes” to cookies when you use various apps such as Maps, News, Weather, Flights, etc.? All these collect data … and whether you use the Big Seven (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest or Reddit) or others like YouTube, Vimeo, Metacafe, Daily Motion, Veoh or the Internet Archives … each one collects data. Some data you provide on sign-up and other data is collected by your usage (sites you visit, when you visit and how long you visit for). So, whether you decide to delete your Facebook and WhatsApp accounts or not, you will be providing data to many other platforms whether you like it or not … whether you know about it or not.

As Christian Churches, we do the same. We ask people to record their attendance at our services and we use that data to follow them up during the following week. This becomes an easy “target” as we are like the various social media platforms collecting data. As a Church, we are always on the lookout for “contacts” … just as the insurance company is when they call saying they will reward you financially if you give them a contact that becomes a client. I don’t want to get into the right or wrong of collecting data … but what one uses the data for is very important. Take the Church. Should the church use that data to recruit people to become members, to swell the numbers and hopefully to increase the finances … it would not just be wrong, but wicked! But if the church uses the data collected to prayerfully attempt to reach that soul for Jesus Christ, it would be God-glorifying.

We live in an era where access into homes are extremely restricted. The days of a Church knocking on doors is almost impossible with high fencing and locked gates. Even access into a block of flats (apartments) is impossible, because unless you have an access code or remote, you can’t get through the front gate. So just having a name and address is not all that helpful. Even a cell number and email address could be a non-starter, because if you are unknown the person will most likely reject the call and delete the SMS or email. So we need something else. We need another method to use data effectively as a Church.

Consider the first story above. When all electrical wires and earth wires are functioning without any corrosion, loose connections or dead shorts, there will be suitable protection to the household as the system does what it is supposed to do. When the electrical fence system is healthy and the energizer supplies a sufficient electrical charge to the fence, should anyone touch or tamper with the fence, it will earth, causing the arms to go off. This reminds me of how when a believer has an uninterrupted “connection” with God through prayer, answers tend to flow. The un-interruption means no sin marring access, no laziness or familiarity.

Allow me to link this with using data wisely for the Kingdom. When there is a healthy prayer connection, we may use data … specific names of individuals or families in prayer. In other words, we may pray specifically about a person or persons, asking God for things like a divine appointment where we might meet up with the person or persons and build a bridge where in time we might share the Gospel with them. In the process, we may pray for their salvation or, if we have knowledge of them, to pray for their exit out of backsliding or for their spiritual growth if they are believers. Where there is a good connection with the Father, we might pray in Jesus’ name for people to access the kingdom and the Church … without even meeting up with them in their homes! We used to call this “praying people into the Kingdom”. Every saved soul was prayed for!

Dear God, thank You for the avenue of prayer and thank You that You call us to pray. We have experienced many answers to our prayers over the years. Help us, Lord, to pray intelligently for those we cannot meet personally to share the Gospel with. We know You hear our prayers. Please grow Your Church as we pray for conversions. Amen.

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