The COVID-19 crisis led to us working, studying, worshipping and fellowshipping from our desktops, laptops and smartphones, highlighting the importance of digital literacy. At Narwee Baptist, ‘COmputers Made Easy’ (COME) teaches people how to fix simple computer problems, setup and use email, search the internet, write in Microsoft Word or Excel, use cloud/phone based diaries, share and print pictures taken on mobile phones, use Skype and Google Photo plus much more. It’s a ministry that started in 2018, but has never been more relevant than this year. It has grown to a size of around 15 “students” – many of whom have no other connection with the church.
Now retired from a high-end computer job, this group was initiated by Stewart Berry as a way of using his professional and personal computer knowledge and interest to serve people and develop a context in which the gospel can be shared with the local community. Of COME, Stewart writes: “Our aims are (i) to develop a social group in which we can meet new people from our community and make the gospel of our Lord Jesus known, and (ii) to do this in the context of helping people develop basic computer skills so that they can keep up with what’s happening in their family and the world around them.”
Every fortnight, Rev. David Williams (Seniors/Pastoral Care Pastor) gives a short talk. Stewart explains: “He takes something from a recent COME session and uses it as a springboard to explore something important in life and in our relationship with God. One time he spoke about the “delete” key on the computer and then explored how there are times when we do things which we wish we could “delete”; this led naturally to thinking about the forgiveness and restoration which we can have through Jesus.
Another time he started with Instagram and bridged to an account of a Samaritan woman, in Luke’s gospel, who lived on the edge of society. What would this woman’s life be like as an Instagram narrative? While the woman was rejected by others, Jesus knew the deeper longings of her life, and invited her into his life story, where the longing to be known, loved and forgiven was met in relationship with him. For the woman, a new Instagram account would begin, indicating a new, transformed life.”
During the pandemic, the group haven’t been able to meet face-to-face, so the class has been doing various types of lessons sent by email each week. “We are really missing the face-to-face meetings – including the morning teas which were always a highlight as it’s a great time for everyone to get to know each other and share life’s enjoyments and hassles,” Stewart says. “We were planning to offer ‘Christianity Explained’ after class with a light lunch early this year but COVID-19 has delayed those plans. We are looking forward to offering it in 2021.”