Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Why Twitter?

Twitter is one of these things that I find people tend not to be indifferent about. You either “get it” or you don’t.  Lots of my friends, family and even some of my colleagues don’t and so they wonder if perhaps the CEO of a mission organization should be spending his time “twittering”. 

Admittedly, Twitter can chew up your time if you let it.  And the name is a little silly.  However, let me draw out three significant advantages that I have seen in the last three months or so since we started to make Twitter a significant part of our ministry here at The Voice of the Martyrs:

1. Twitter has an unparalleled ability to raise awareness and prayer quickly when necessary.  This became crystal clear to me last weekend when, at 8:13 pm on Saturday night,  I received a tweet from @Iran30 saying: “Maryam and Marzieh to appear before court on Sunday morning.”  Checking the link that accompanied the message, I realized that this was due to take place in less than two hours.  An urgent email request would not likely be read by many people in time, especially not one written late on a Saturday night. And so I forwarded the message on to others on Twitter and began sending out other messages, urging prayer and asking those who received it to please forward the message to others. I then added an article to our main website ( and to this weblog site.

But had it not been for Twitter, I would not have learned of this important event nor would I have been able to muster significant prayer support for these two women in their time of need (which, if you have read their story, you realize just how much they needed!).  Incidentally, the same thing had happened the week before regarding the attacks on Christians in Korian and Gojra, Pakistan. Again, I learned about them first through Twitter, very shortly after they started. This leads me to my second point.

2. I have seen how Twitter is able to provide me with information in a more concise and timely manner than anything else I use (including email alerts and RSS feeds).  Frankly, I am beginning to get rid of RSS feeds from my browser; Twitter is just that much better and updates more often. When you are involved in the kind of ministry that I am in, conciseness and timeliness vital if we are to do the kind of excellent work that I believe we are called to.

3. Twitter also helps to create personal links with others far better than emails or blog comments do (and without being as bloated and complicated as Facebook, which I can’t stand).  I have already made some valued connections through Twitter that I would not have made otherwise with believers and organizations in other countries.  Twitter also allows me to concretely demonstrate to other ministries involved in serving persecuted Christians that I do not believe us to be in competition as I forward their messages to others, refer others to their websites, and encourage others to “follow” them.  I really do believe that competition between missions only harms the persecuted church.

I have also found Twitter to very helpful to driving traffic to parts of our website that are valuable but which people might not look for. Through Twitter, I encourage people to write to or on behalf of prisoners of faith, post prayers for the persecuted on our prayer wall, check out some of our free downloadable resources, or study some of our articles on our biblical research website on the biblical theology of persecution.  

I would love to hear of your thoughts concerning Twitter and other social media on the Internet.  And, of course, I would invite you to follow us and join us in raising a voice for the voiceless before God and man.


Garry Dyck said...

I joined twitter about two months ago just to see what it was all about. I have been on facebook for a couple of years but quite frankly I just don't get it. Facebook has been more of a responsibility and I am considering shutting down that part of my life. When asked if he was on Facebook, a friend replied, "No, I'm an adult."

Your use of twitter has made twitter useful for me for all the reasons you suggest. I read recently that twitter is used more by people over 25 (August 11, 2009 of Chronicle of Higher Education) and I am just over twice that age so maybe twitter will be better for me. I have to admit, I don't really understand RTs and I am still more of a reader than a writer in twitter but you just need to read in order to pray.

Thanks for providing such up-to-date information about our persecuted brothers and sisters.

Garry Dyck
Winnipeg MB

Laurel said...

I have been on facebook for about 18 months, and I love it cuz my children and their cousins are mostly in the under 25 age group and so it's a perfect way for me to keep up with what's happening in their lives.

Twitter.... I tried, the first day you invited everyone to check it out, but I don't "get" it, as you said.... I'm not on all day, just for a couple hours in the evening, does that make a difference? Is it something you have to be connected all the time to make use of?

Michelle said...

In between all the tweets about people living their daily life without serious care, I do enjoy getting VOMC's tweets with updates on persecution going on around the world. It makes me thankful for my life and prayerful for my persecuted brothers and sisters all over the world and gives me a sense of perspective as a Christian.

Glenn Penner said...

No, one need not be on Twitter all of the time to get its benefits, Laurel, though I do keep it on pretty much all of the the time when my computer is on, just in case something comes to mind that I think needs to be shared. It is more of a communications tool than Facebook.

Gabe said...

In my humble opinion, you guys at VOMC have one of the best Twitter feeds around. Thanks for all the great work!

Lorraine said...

I'm on FB to keep up with Christian friends around the world that I have connected with over the years - now I have signed up to Twitter to get the VOMC updates,but I also have to confess that I don't really understand it. I'm trying not to get left behind with all the tech stuff, but frankly, it is not easy, not to mention time consumming.