The “Christian Summer”

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The images are stunning. Thousands of people crowd the city square, waving red, white and black flags, chanting and singing and holding signs painted with phrases like, “We shall overcome,” and, “Freedom!”
Egypt’s January 2011 uprising against its dictatorial government captivated world media. Cable news pundits discussed the implications of what they called the “Arab Spring” and the power of social media, integral to organizing the protests, in promoting political and social change. I was fascinated by Egypt’s uprising and the part social media played, so I wrote my master’s degree thesis on it. Just the 26-word title of my thesis would probably put you to sleep. But through my writing, I learned a lot about social media.
Probably the most important thing I learned was that social media use is fundamentally about identity. We create elaborate websites, welcoming Facebook pages and attractive Twitter feeds because they reflect how we see ourselves and because we want to share those selves with others. Through the process of sharing ourselves—whether through a humorous cartoon, a great article, or pictures of our child’s birthday party—we hope that others will affirm our identities and (if we’re really optimistic) be changed by them, even if only by having a slightly brighter day.
That’s why AFM recently started a new social media initiative. We want to share our organization’s identity. But more importantly, we want our presence on social media to bless those we meet there and in the real world and to affirm their identities as children of God. And if, in the process, we can help others realize that part of their Christian identity is to share Jesus with those who don’t know Him, well, that’s great too!
Unlike those who participated in the Arab uprisings, we’re not battling autocratic governments. Ours is a more insidious enemy, a spiritual enemy. According to Paul, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12, NIV). That struggle doesn’t stop when we get online.
We would love to have you “like” and comment on our Facebook page, interact with us on Twitter, and keep up with our missionary and home-office blogs. But more importantly, we invite you to share your identity in Jesus with someone today, whether online or offline, and to be a missionary wherever you are. If enough of us do that, then maybe someday a graduate student in Heaven will be able to write a thesis (if such things exist there) on the “Christian Summer” of 2014.

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