By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST News Service
OCEANSIDE, CA (ANS – April 17, 2016) — Dicksie Mathison has been in ministry for 28 years on the campus of the University of Southern California (USC), based in downtown Los Angeles. Over that time, she has seen generations of students come and graduate. She has also seen the world change technologically.
You might say she has a unique perspective on how the changes in the technological world affect the ministry world. Her ministry, Worldwide Friends (http://www.uscworldwidefriends.org), is part of a new movement in ministries. It is a movement of ministries devoted to reaching the lost, yet empowered through the latest technologies.
Daniel and Dicksie Mathison founded Worldwide Friends as an outreach to international students. The idea is that when you reach international students, you reach the world. USC has over 10,000 international students. In order to communicate with these students, Dicksie made wide use of the medium of e-mail. Through these e-mails, students were invited to Worldwide Friends events.
Through these occasions, they connected with believers and, through believers, they heard about Christ. A few years ago, however, Worldwide Friends was in a vulnerable situation.
With so many contacts, came a lot of data and e-mails to send. This was very difficult to manage without adequate tools. This also yielded another problem: “Everything was on one person’s computer (mine),” Dicksie recalled, “so only that person could input data and had to do all of the communication.”
All the burden rested on Dicksie’s shoulders to keep everyone’s contact information, manage it and use it to communicate. This made things hard both professionally and personally. She said, “Since I was the one who did it, I felt heavily burdened and I didn’t have any hope of transferring responsibilities to anyone else.”
Worldwide Friends needed their own computer system, one designed around what they did. Unfortunately for small to medium sized ministries, these kinds of systems are cost prohibitive. For Worldwide Friends, though, things were about to change.
Through a friend, Dicksie connected to a new ministry, Vituramis, whose mission “is to empower ministries around the world through software and the Internet” and Vituramis did this very thing for Worldwide Friends. In consulting with this ministry, Dicksie was able to give input on what the system should be.
A short time later, Worldwide Friends had its own ministry system, which was provided through Vituramis’s flagship service, CrossReference. To her and the ministry, it was “transformative.”
Beyond the ability to send out the needed e-mails and invites that were crucial, Worldwide Friends gained a host of new abilities. Most important was the new ability to collaborate with others on leading their ministry. About this, Dicksie said, “It has enabled us to spread out the responsibilities.” This change in capability resulted in a positive change in Worldwide Friends.
“Volunteers have set up committees and taken on responsibilities that both I and my late husband had, easing my burden tremendously. Because of the CrossReference system, others are able to initiate, check and send announcements.” This was more than just a convenience.
The resulting structural changes in Worldwide Friends made it more durable and built leaders. “Delegating has eased the burden on me tremendously. It has made the volunteers more committed, and most importantly, Worldwide Friends will be able to continue after I am not able to do it anymore,” she said. ”If it hadn’t been for CrossReference, this couldn’t have happened very easily or effectively.”
In referring to its ability to solve many of their problems, she added, “[It] also made it possible to send out to the whole list without being accused of spam. And, it meant that we can easily keep track of students who attend events, and we can also drop students from previous years who are not active anymore – something we haven’t been able to do before because our list had become unmanageable.”
Ministry is changing in a fundamental way. Cloud services like CrossReference represent a ground-shift in what is now possible. The example of Worldwide Friends is an early instance of this revolution building. We see how these technologies can change our personal and work lives. We may soon see a day when missionaries in far-flung countries have the kind of power under their fingertips they never dreamt of. In that day the Kingdom of God will advance like never before.
We, at ASSIST, know all too well, the importance of CrossReference as we have been using it to catalogue all of our old ASSIST News Service stories.
“We exist as a ministry, not a business,” said Ken Rustrum, President of Vituramis. “Our desire is to come alongside Christian ministries and to resource them so they may better accomplish their mission. We are staffed through the wonderful efforts of supported staff and volunteers.”
He added, “Our mission statement is: ‘Leveraging the power of software and the Internet to empower ministries around the World.’”
Photo captions: 1) Daniel and Dicksie Mathison, who founded Worldwide Friends. 2) Two international students feeling the joy. 3) A group of students at a Worldwide Friends event. 4) International students enjoying fellowship. 5) The Rustrum family. 6) Norma and Dan Wooding pictured during an ANS reporting assignment in Hollywood, California. (Photo: Bryan Seltzer).
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 75, is an award-winning winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for more than 52 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. Dan is the founder of the ASSIST News Service (ANS), and the author of some 45 books. He also has two TV shows – “Windows on the World,” (with Mark Ellis), and “Inside Hollywood with Dan Wooding,” which are both broadcast on the Holy Spirit Broadcasting Network (http://hsbn.tv) — and a weekly radio program called “Front Page Radio”, which originates from the KWVE Radio Network (http://www.kwve.com), based in Santa Ana, California, and is carried across the United States.
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