Poor communities face a lack of internet connectivity, which is of particular concern when it seems that every kind of interaction has gone online. Work, church, and schools have been virtual for months and even with the return of some in-person gatherings, we are still heavily reliant on our internet connections. But what if you don’t have access to the internet? On the news the other night, there was a story about a mom trying to get her four kids connected to their classwork by using her phone as a mobile hotspot. If you have had any experience with this, you know that it’s like trying to force Niagara Falls through a drinking straw. Situations like this are too common, and the learning gap between the haves and have-nots continues to grow, particularly affecting people of color.
I’ve been thinking about Jesus’ words, “when I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink” and how it applies to so much more than water. If you have water, wouldn’t you share it with the thirsty? The same with food, clothing, and shelter. But what about your wifi? Hear me out–just about every church, regardless of size or resources, has an internet connection. Many if not most have wifi. Why not open up the church a few hours a day for those in need of an internet connection for school work? Maybe have a different area for adults looking for work? With a small investment in additional equipment and a little technical know-how, a church’s wifi signal could be extended throughout the building and even into its parking lot. For those unable (or unwilling) to open their facilities, they could still offer wifi to their neighbors. With a few calls/emails and some neighborhood signs, the schools and community could learn of this essential resource, this cup of cold water to the parched.
The perception of many outside the Church is that it is a place for people interested in personal piety, without having anything to say about social ills or issues of the day. As long as we continue to be self-absorbed and self-centered in our Christianity, we will be self-righteous and ineffective. God has given us the resources to reach beyond our walls and make a positive impact in the everyday lives of our neighbors. Wouldn’t it be great if those outside the Church could reliably look to their local churches as sources of innovation to help meet their communities’ needs? We have so many blessings and resources to share that we take for granted, wifi being just one of them.