NAMB appoints first cyber-missionary to coordinate Internet evangelism

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)--Siam Rogers, a telecommunications specialist who for five years has operated a ministry dedicated to sharing the gospel over the Internet, has been appointed as the North American Mission Board's first missionary devoted entirely to Internet evangelism.

Rogers, a resident of Sugar Hill, Ga., will begin serving May 1 as a national missionary with responsibilities for helping coordinate all of the agency's Internet evangelism efforts. Also appointed was his wife, Jennifer, who will serve in a family and church support role.

"Our historic entry into the cyber world with a missionary force is the recognition of the technology and computer community that has developed rapidly," said John Yarbrough, NAMB's vice president for evangelization. "Siam Rogers has been using this technology to share the gospel and train others to do so. He brings a passion for souls and a technological expertise to this task."

NAMB's Internet evangelism sites -- which churches are being encouraged to provide links to from their own sites -- have grown to more than 140,000 visitors spending at least eight minutes on one of the gospel presentations each month. Sites include www.thegoodnews.org, www.thekristo.com and www.kidzplace.org. An average of 200 each month make professions of faith in Christ and are referred to local churches for follow-up.

"Individuals are sharing the gospel in chat rooms, emailing tracts and gospel presentation to friends, work associates, and family members," Yarbrough said, noting that he envisions on-line training and customizable tracts also made possible by the Internet. "We want to train, resource and encourage the use of this powerful communication tool to share the gospel."

Since 1995 Rogers has operated AccessJesus (www.accessjesus.org), a ministry with Internet evangelism goals similar to those of NAMB.

Rogers said chat rooms have been one of the most successful forms of Internet evangelism, allowing conversations that eventually lead to opportunities for witness. He also sets up and hosts prayer meetings and Bible studies through the chat rooms, which offer non-Christians a safe place to investigate Christianity.

He told of one young woman he led to Christ after two extended discussions in one chat room. She currently is a student at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

In another case, he was leading a man through the "Eternal Life" gospel tract produced by the North American Mission Board when another man appeared and began asking questions. When Rogers later led the first man through the "sinner's prayer" over the Internet, the prayer was typed back by both men -- indicating both had accepted Christ.

"That's just the power of a particular chat room," Rogers said. "You just don't know who's out there, and you don't know where the people are."

Rogers said he also has been helping people develop evangelistic websites, an area in which NAMB already has a strong base.

"The power of a website," he said, "is that while we're sleeping the Lord is out there using that to reach people who are looking for answers." Rogers received one email at 3:30 a.m. from a man in Indonesia who had accepted Christ after viewing his site.

In describing the potential of the Internet, Rogers noted statistics on the number of years it took popular electronic media to reach 50 million users. Radio took 38 years, television took 13 and the personal computer took 16. For the same number of users, it took the Internet only four years. And because it is so flexible, he said, the opportunities it provides the Christian church are only beginning.

"The great opportunity is that the doors are wide open," he said.

Siam Rogers comes to NAMB from a position as project manager for Intermedia Communications in Atlanta, and he is currently pursing a master of divinity degree from Luther Rice Theological Seminary. Jennifer Rogers -- who previously has worked as an aerobics instructor and bank teller -- currently is a full-time homemaker.

The Rogerses are members of North Metro First Baptist Church in Lawrenceville. They have five children: Tazman, 10; Jorden, 8; Ashlyn, 5; Sierra, 3; and Brea, 2.

(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library. Photo title: SIAM AND JENNIFER ROGERS.

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