I wrote this last year, but didn’t do anything with it. I think it’s still all true and thought it might be a good way to celebrate the birthday of one of my real life heroes.
Last week my Grandad turned 90. 90! It was a great opportunity to reflect on just how brilliant he is – because really, he is brilliant. Along with my Grandma, he spent his entire adult life as an Officer (minister) in the Salvation Army. Their retirement was anything but! He is a beautiful writer and has to write at least one poem every day, most of which are not distributed but all of which contain powerful truth and beauty. His life has taken on a slower and less public pace over the last few years but then, BOOM, he discovered Facebook. My aunty set him up as a way of keeping in touch with the lives of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Now he has well over 1000 friends, and is a teacher and pastor to them all. He posts his ‘Heart-Talk’ every Monday a poem which is liked and shared by 100’s. This has resulted in him publishing a volume of those works. He posts prayers every day that despite being made of only one line, hold so much truth. He prays for every need that is mentioned on his feed and will reach out to the hurting and lonely. His Facebook ministry is now a full time job! I don’t say this to blow my Grandad’s trumpet. It’s simply to demonstrate how he has turned his little corner of the internet into a (as he describes it) “means of grace.”
We all have the capacity to do this. On the 15th April, Boko Haram abducted 276 girls. As I write, they still hold 230 of these girls captive. Boko Haram have been abducting girls for years. Perhaps this is why this abduction, despite it’s scale didn’t initially reach the headlines. But then Nigerian locals took to social media using the hashtag #bringbackourgirls. 10 days after the girls were taken, the hashtag reached 1 million tweets. The story made international headlines and not only were the Nigerian government stepping up their efforts to find the girls but the whole world was getting involved. I don’t know how this will turn out. I don’t know if these girls will be rescued but I do believe that every effort is being made; That fewer girls will be taken in the future; that millions of people have woken up to the horrific reality of human trafficking and now their eyes have been opened, they will take steps to understand how they can act to stamp it out.
We can be quick to decry social media – the time it robs us of, the vitriol, the cat pictures. But it can be so much more. I hope I can use it well, to celebrate, inspire, encourage and bring about change in the lives of those near and far.