By Sean Taylor
How can I be ready for Y2K? What do I need to do to take care of
my family, my business and my assets?
That's the way many people speak of the Year 2000 problem. And with good
cause--Y2K could be a serious threat to the livelihood of many people. However,
Shaunti Feldhahn, author of Y2K: The Millennium Bug, firmly believes that God
can use even Y2K to bring people to Himself. The founder of Joseph Project
2000, Feldhahn educates churches and other groups on how best to prepare for
the coming crisis and use it to reach people for Christ.
She recently discussed with On Mission how Y2K could be an opportunity for
Christians to show the love of Christ.
On Mission: What's the basic problem associated with
Feldhahn: It all originated when computers were
first being developed, and programmers developed a short-cut to refer to years
by using only two digits. For example, 76 in a date would stand for 1976.
That worked fine until this coming year. Computers that are set up to read
only two digits will roll over to 00 and will think it's 1900. That will create
calculation and logic problems.
People say, 'We're a smart country. We can put a man on the moon. We can fix
this.' The problem is a very simple one from a technical standpoint. It's a
simple matter of changing the code to allow for four digits instead of two
digits. The problem comes because there is so much out there, and we have a
fixed deadline. The year is not going to wait.
Jim Lord, a Y2K expert, put it like this. Imagine if I were to hand you a
shoebox of marbles and a polishing rag, and I said to polish all the marbles by
next Wednesday. You could do it easily.
Now imagine I took you to the Grand Canyon, and it was filled to the top
with marbles, and I said to polish all the marbles by next Wednesday. Same job,
right? Technically, extremely simple. You have all the tools you need to get it
done, but you'll never get it done by next Wednesday.
That's Y2K. And that's why we need to start thinking about what this could
affect and how we as Christians can use it.
On Mission: What makes Y2K an evangelistic opportunity?
Feldhahn: When you start looking at it from a
ministry and evangelism perspective, there are so many things that open up.
This has the potential to impact people's lives. We have the second greatest
commandment, which is to love our neighbor as ourselves. We have an opportunity
here to reach out with real hands and feet, putting action with our words. That
says something very powerful to somebody during a time of crisis. One thing we
have to think about is this. When the world is shaken, what happens to the
non-believer? People who have their houses built on sand will realize that
their security was just an illusion. Christians need to be there, ready to tell
them about the love of Jesus and bring them to that love and give them a chance
to see why we are unfazed in the midst of the crisis. Then we'll be able to
show them that Rock.
On Mission: How can people get involved in reaching out to others
evangelistically after Y2K hits?
Feldhahn: One of the most important things that's
often overlooked is that there will be incredible opportunities to reach out to
non-believers you currently have relationships with. If your water utilities
are cut off and you have drinkable water stored, you can say, 'Well, let me
just bring some by.' It shows the love of Jesus to people who are not
Let me tell you a story. I have friends who--whenever anyone moves into
their neighborhood--bring over a plant, coffee or food as welcome gifts. They
let people know they're Christians, and that they'll pray for them. And just
last year, they got an hysterical phone call from a lady they thought didn't
seem at all interested in going to church with them. This woman said, 'I know
you're a Christian. Would you please pray for me?'
What this pointed out was that if you've built relationships and let people
know you've got a relationship with Christ, they're going to run to God and
turn to you to help them find Him.
On Mission: What about opportunities to use Y2K evangelistically
before January 1, 2000?
Feldhahn: Anytime you have people searching you
have to be willing to point them to the ultimate Truth.
There are plenty of opportunities to do that as the public perception of Y2K
increases. There's going to be some fear. We can show people that there's no
reason to fear, and explain why.
On Mission: How has your interaction with people about Y2K allowed
you the opportunity to talk to people about Christ?
Feldhahn: It's amazing. For example, Y2K Today, a
Y2K news periodical, did an article on me and my book. The woman who
interviewed me let me know that she wasn't a Christian, that she was more into
the New Age movement. I told her, 'What you're calling the cosmic forces, I
call God, and this is something that He is going to be working through.' What
an opening to share the gospel!
On Mission: What would you tell those who say: 'It's not my job.
That's what the church should be doing?'
Feldhahn: Many people think that the church will
do it, that the church will take care of people. Well, we are the church. The
church doesn't exist apart from Christians.
In this case, if there's an economic downturn, the idea of evangelism can't be
separated from the idea of really meeting people's physical needs. If all you
do for someone who is starving is say, 'Jesus loves you and we'll pray for
you,' you're missing the point. That's what James writes about--faith without
works. We have to be in a position to reach out in love to someone else. That
itself is an act of evangelism. It's showing the love of Jesus to someone.
Shaunti Feldhahn holds a master's degree in public policy from Harvard
University and is a former financial analyst for the Federal Reserve Bank. She
is the founder and president of Joseph Project 2000, a nonprofit organization
devoted to promoting international Y2K preparedness to churches and other
groups. To order a copy of Y2K: The Millennium Bug, call your local LifeWay
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC