The Truth... What is it?

A List-serve Cyberstudy Started

from Aug 29, 1996 Baptist Press:

Binary code newest dialect of 'Experiencing God' study

By Terri Lackey

[NOTE: Mr. Kennedy's list-serve is no longer active; this is posted for historical FYI]

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--"Experiencing God" comes in many dialects -- Papiamento, Tagalog, mandarin, binary code. The first is spoken in the Netherlands Antilles; the second on an island in the Philippines, the third in China, and the fourth in space. Cyberspace, that is.

Taught in at least 30 languages across the world, "Experiencing God," a 13-week study offering Christians the skills to find God's will for their lives, transcends time and space beginning Sept. 16. That is the day Christians and non-Christians alike from America to Zimbabwe will connect via computer and modem to begin jointly studying the popular course produced by the Baptist Sunday School Board's discipleship and family development division.

The idea of studying "Experiencing God" via internet originated with Thomas Kennedy, a native of Canada and resident of Holland, Mich. When Kennedy's work visa expired before his new one was issued this summer, the computer consultant found himself with time on his hands.

"God kind of used that time to kick this thing off," he said of the "Experiencing God" Internet study which will be launched three times a year in January, May and September "until the people quit subscribing." Kennedy said he explored several on-line Bible studies recently, but had become disillusioned with them when the cyber chat about Scripture turned into theological bickering.

"I spent a lot of time on different Christian computer mailing lists, but it seemed like many of the people on them were just trying to throw Bible verses back and forth like they knew more about theology than the other person," he said. "I thought to myself, 'If I was a non-Christian, I wouldn't want anything to do with that.' "I was ashamed that we had this incredible technology and it was being used to divide the body of Christ instead of joining people together to edify him," Kennedy said. Just as he was tiring of all computer-mediated Bible studies, Kennedy said a friend lent him an "Experiencing God" workbook. "After the first week, I was so excited about the study that I wanted to find some other people to study it with me. So I posted an e-mail message asking if anybody was interested in studying 'Experiencing God' with me. "In the first three days, I received over 200 messages from all over the world. I was totally overwhelmed by it," he said. "Tears literally ran down my eyes."

Kennedy said before posting the message asking for "Experiencing God" study partners, he decided if God gave him 12 people, he would go through with coordinating the computer study. "I guess I should have been more specific with God and requested a maximum of 12 people," joked Kennedy who indicated the number of people interested in the on-line study as of the end of August had reached 600 from 35 countries and was still rising.

Requirements after joining the study are simple, Kennedy said. Buy the adult workbook and study a chapter a week -- preferably the same one everybody else is studying. Those interested in posting comments on the newly created forum may do so.

"The list will be used for two purposes," Kennedy said. "One, I'll be sending e-mails to the list, offering food for thought and other ideas from the teacher's guide. And two, anybody going through a study problem, who doesn't understand something, or who just wants to issue a praise report can send it through the list. All e-mails come through me first for approval."

Once participants subscribe to the list, they receive a return e-mail outlining the rules and regulations, Kennedy said. To join, a person must send e-mail to "hub@XC.Org" (some people may find it necessary to put "Internet:" before that address). In the message field, not the subject field, write: subscribe expgod. Those who choose to be on a digest version of the list should write in the message field: subscribe expgod-digest. People who subscribe to the digest version of the study will receive a compilation of e-mail messages a couple of times a week, Kennedy said. They will not receive mail every time it is sent by a fellow member of the list group.

In his "welcome" message to new subscribers, Kennedy gives the price of the notebook (U.S. $10.95 + 2.50 shipping and handling), and where and how to order it. For those who feel they cannot afford or obtain the book, Kennedy includes this message: "Note: if you are unable to obtain a book for any reason (country, financial, etc.) please send an e-mail to "TKennedy@XC.Org" with the subject, Book Needed. Include information on your address, etc. in the message text. We will do everything we can to get a book into your hands." In the same welcome message, Kennedy then appeals to sponsors who can purchase a book for those who are unable to buy one for themselves.

"It is incredible how God works. We receive e-mails on a daily basis from those who are unable to afford the workbook and from those who wish to purchase workbooks for others. I have always had enough e-mails come in from sponsors to cover those in need. It is real neat to see God work in this area." Kennedy said recently he received an e-mail from a person in the U.S. who wanted to sponsor someone overseas. The next day he received an e-mail from a lady in Denmark who needed a workbook. "So I connected the two together," he said. "One thing I've learned is that when you obey, God accomplishes what only he could do."

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Revised & posted: Sept 2000