The Internet and Bible Software
One thing that most foreign workers have had to do without is a goodly portion of their library. Those who have either worked in mission fields or visited brethren in such places know of the relatively small number of books most brethren can bring with them. Postage rates and other logistical considerations generally limit brethren to two or three shelves of books at most. Indeed, a good Bible student may find that his personal studies, class and sermon preparation suffer to a certain extent while in the mission field. Also, such a one finds himself without resources to which he has become accustomed when difficult questions arise in Bible studies with other people. The steady progress made in electronic media and data storage in recent decades has brought a marked change in this area.
Computers have long since become common place in preachers' studies and we have varying levels of expertise in using them. Many brethren are "book men" like this writer, i.e., accustomed to using reference books and commentaries in the form they have existed for centuries. For most of us, the computer was initially a welcome and amazing replacement to the typewriter. With time we have come to appreciate and, to varying degrees, understand the increasingly diverse and expanding capabilities of these machines. This article seeks to focus on some of those capabilities as they relate to helping foreign workers, especially those accustomed to using books.
Web Sites, E-mail and Internet Cafes
Internet cafes now exist in many parts of countries as remote to us as India, Kenya and the Philippines. With such access one not only can receive study material from brethren in the U.S. via e-mail, he can also visit web sites run by brethren as well as other sources. We list some here.
A link to many sites maintained by brethren:
Truth Magazine (includes many back volumes of this paper)
Most of the articles from Plain Talk
Voice of the Valley
Think On These Things
The Christian Courier
Reason and Revelation
Executable Outlines-Mark Copeland
Web Page of Warren E. Berkley
Web Page of David Riggs
Jeff S. Smith's site
Resource Center for Bible Students-Warren Berkley
Home Bible Study, Ira Mikell
The Gospel Banner, Phil Martin
The Gospel Way, David Pratte
Mike Hughes' Home Page
A large repository of sermons
In as much as Watchman Magazine maintains this site with this article in the archive section, almost anywhere you might happen to go in the world you can access this article via Watchman and the sites it lists.
As time continues to pass, more and more material formerly available only in book form is being recorded onto compact disks. Programs like The Power Bible CD, Quickverse, Logos and others allow the foreign worker to do without such common reference books as other versions of the Bible, concordances and lexicons. As those well acquainted with such software know, this only scratches the surface in terms of the volumes that one can now possess on a few CDs. Such long time standard works as The Pulpit Commentary, Keil and Delitzsch, Barnes Notes, Adam Clarke, the Fourfold Gospel, Vincent's Word Studies, A.T. Robertson's Word Pictures of the N.T.,Schaff's History of the Christian Church, as well as many other books are now available. Further, brethren have also been busy in the area of which we speak. The first ten volumes of The Preceptor, all of The Gospel Anchor and Vanguard have been put onto CD. The complete material from Garyslist, a site maintained for much of the `90's whereon many brethren posted the results of their studies, was likewise recorded.
The Pentium II is fast becoming a dinosaur to those long used to the fast pace of progress in the computer world. In light of this, it is noteworthy that all of the information mentioned herein can be accessed via such an inexpensive computer.
Gone are the days when going to the mission field meant leaving most of the information found in your library behind. While computer accessed data may never replace the book in the hearts of many of us, it does allow for a far more normal "office life" for one far from his library than has ever been possible. Hopefully, what we write herein will make mission work seem more feasible to some who have not previously considered it.
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