(Aug. 31, 2012 - by Harold Goerzen) Suppose that during your travels you’re distracted and leave your smartphone on a tabletop. You break into a cold sweat when you try to retrieve the phone and realize it’s gone.
For people in ministry, far beyond the financial loss would be the compromised security-sensitive information like the names, addresses and photos of local believers. Also at risk of discovery and malicious use could be your itinerary, passwords, credit card numbers and details on clandestine audio studios used to record Christian radio programs.
If your smartphone got into the wrong hands, it could endanger the careers—and lives—of Christians throughout the region. Blessed indeed is the traveler backed by a team of information technology (IT) specialists.
|Juan Cabrera of HCJB Global|
“Not a problem,” says Juan Cabrera, vice president of global information technology at HCJB Global which in late July hosted the International Conference on Computing and Mission (ICCM). “First, in our case the device would lock up because it hadn’t been used for a few minutes,” he explained. “And we could do a remote wipeout of the entire device. Some organizations, however, may not have the same access to that technology, and we could explain it to them.”
It is scenarios like this—and finding creative ways to solve them—that since 1989 has kept Christian IT workers coming to the annual conference. Some 140 people attended ICCM US 2012, July 16-20, at the Youth with a Mission (YWAM) training center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Three plenary sessions and daily worship times focused on the theme “Spiritual Reboot” with break-out sessions and a few dozen workshops. The breakouts and workshops furthered the spiritual theme or addressed three other tracks: basic, technology and leadership. Cabrera, a co-chair of this year’s event, said that security, mobile devices and such devices’ use in spreading the gospel were the main themes that stood out.
The event’s overarching purpose was spiritual, and Cabrera feels this was perhaps most evident this year. “Many people think the event is all about technology, but there’s a heavy emphasis on ministry and the spiritual heart,” he explained. “We tried to emphasize the spiritual, giving more time for worship and special speakers who address topics such as burnout, family dynamics and marriage relationships.”
“Another big thing for us was IT governance—who does what when it comes to IT,” Cabrera added. “There are very clear guidelines and polices. This may seem boring, but it was very valuable.” While Colorado Springs boasts dozens of ministry and missions organizations, Cabrera was pleased with a cross-section of attendees that also included vendors of high-tech equipment and people keen on using technology in the Christian realm.
“One gal came from Boston after finding us on the Internet,” he related. “Also attending were some missionaries on home ministry assignment along with people from local churches.”
The attendees shared technology woes and future desires and generally learned from each other, trying to avoid making blunders someone already has learned from.
“Another aspect is prayer support for each other,” Cabrera continued. “We have prayer pals where you break up into groups of three or four and try to keep up these relationships year round.” Plans are under way for an Australian version of ICCM event in October; ICCM Europe 2013 in late January; and ICCM US 2013 tentatively planned for Taylor University in Upland, Ind., next June.
Sources: HCJB Global, www.iccm.org