09 September 2008

Minding the technological Gap

Yesterday I received the email pasted below. It is from a YWAM staff member working on the Buvuma Islands of Lake Victoria in Uganda, East Africa. She is writing about the move to change YWAM's international magazine from a print edition to an e-zine. I post this here because Catherine sums up one of the reasons why we need Communication Teams in places like Africa:

"Thank you for all your hard work on the new YWAM E-Zine magazine. I know it has taken tremendous effort. I therefore offer my contribution with extreme care because I don't want to discourage you. But the truth is you are not reaching as many people as you think. I know for a fact that most of the staff of YWAM Uganda do not have Internet access and the speed of our connection certainly does not allow us to view your magazine. So we are all out of the picture, again! We had an HIV & AIDS global gathering in 2006 but the only way to attend was to apply on-line. Very few of the staff had registered so finally a lady from UK who is on staff printed out a bunch of application forms and gave them to people. After they filled them out she just gave the whole lot to the organizers in person. And the whole idea of doing Go Manual surveys on the Internet is a constant source of frustration to us.

There are also many YWAM locations that do not have electricity. For instance we live on a remote island on Lake Victoria in Uganda. It has been a month since I was able to do emails and it requires a trip to stay overnight (and I have three small children).

I appreciate that Lyn Green wants to focus on healing the nervous system of YWAM. That is really needed. However, I don't feel the Internet is the best route for the majority of the YWAM staff in the field. I know printed media is expensive but it was the best way to make sure all the staff read the YWAMer magazine here. The National Office just left copies in the waiting area of the office and people read them. Now hardly anyone can read the computerized one."

In our capacity as bridge-builders we have to face issues such as these ... to find funds to print a magazine and post it to YWAMers in Africa; to phone people and fill in their YWAM surveys for them; to tell YWAM around the world the challenges staff deal with on a daily basis, as well as their triumphs and success stories. What a privilege to do this for people like Catherine!


  1. Hi, I'm so glad that you posted this email. I think it's extremely important that in our excitement with newer technologies, that we don't leave out a large part of our family in the process. I will definitely keep this in mind when I am taking part in communications efforts. I hope that CRIT 2009, which will be in Uganda, will be a great time of discovering ways to heal this extremely part of our nervous system. Let's continue to pray through this!

  2. I work on the International Chairman's Team, and it is comments like these that stoke us to continue finding ways to bridge gaps. I agree with the AfriCom assessment: if a print edition is not viable at present, a field communications team goes a very long way to finding regional solutions. Funding is obviously an issue here, but a team like this can develop strategy for that as well. Chris, I agree with your comment about CRIT 2009 and its potential as well.....

  3. This is close to what I have been thinking about this issue, as well.

    At the YWAM Reef To Outback base here in Townsville, we have started using a social network as our website... it's been interesting so far, and currently one of the discussions, Social Networking & Unreached Peoples is about this subject!

    I believe that we have to continue to focus the most on the media medium that serves the most people... which currently is still print. I don't think money is too much of an issue. Print serves us fine at the "top" of the technological ladder.