Torch, Summer 1984

will eventually occur. For the moment, however, software firms find church administration a more lucrative field. MISSION AGENCIES Mission agencies have employed computers very much like churches and affiliations. Administrative tasks are typically computerized first, followed by some use of the system for cummunication. Four GARBC-related mission boards, Association of Baptists for World Evangelism, Evangelical Baptist Missions, Baptist Mid-Missions, and Fellowship of Baptists for Home Missions, have all computerized to some degree and are using their systems for administrative tasks and word processing. None have sponsored micros for missionaries overseas but some missionaries associated with EBM are using micros for language translation. Clearly two of the leading computer users in missions are Wycliffe Bible Translators and The Evangelical Alliance Mission. Wycliffe began using computers more than 20 years ago in Mexico for language translation work. Pioneers by the very nature of their work, Wycliffe translators develop all of their own software and then provide their expertise to others. They currently have more than 350 micros on the field, most of which are used for finance and translation tasks. Lately, they have placed 63 Sharps battery operated micros, giving the missionaries even greater flexibility. Wycliffe maintains a relationship with Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, where it regularly conducts missionary training courses in computer and language translation. TEAM 's use of computers is equally impressive . It is a nondenominational agency focusing on church planting and literature, as well as hospital and radio ministries. To support its 1200 missionaries, the mission maintains a large IBM system at its headquarters in Wheaton, Illinois, as well as more than 40 micros on the field. CHRISTIAN COLLEGES Colleges must progress in all fields of learning in order to maintain a competitive edge . In the last five years, this has meant a concern for computers on campus and has generated hours of discussion pinpointing what a student needs in order to be considered "computer literate." Christian colleges have been pressured to find funds for computers and then integrate their usage into the curriculum. Several Christian colleges have made remarkable progress and now display very fine computer facilities . Taylor University is among the top five. It has a large Digital VAX system and micro labs . Their Computer Assistance Program (CAP) is especially noteworthy . CAP recruits upper division computer science students to assist mission agencies or visit the foreign field in internship experiences that allow them to use their computer skills . This program has been very successful and is now becoming a model for others. 6 Cedarville College has an academic computer center housing a large Digital VAX system and is gradually expanding this resource and acquiring micros . A unique, three-day chapel in-forum focused upon "The Christian and the Computer Culture ." Speakers assessed the social and cultural implications of a computer culture from a biblical perspective . This summer, Cedarville student Rodney Smith is in Portugal helping missionaries to set up a computer system. Calvin, Hope , David Lipscomb, and Anderson Colleges, along with Biola University, also have advanced computer facilities. Wheaton and Messiah Colleges have Digital VAX systems in place while Liberty Baptist College, Tennessee Temple University, Pensacola, and Grand Rapids Baptist College each have other systems that they are developing. Funding is the key to the "computer goes to college" trend. In most instances, such capital expansion cannot be accomplished without significant donor support . PARACHURCH ORGANIZATIONS The computerization experience of parachurch organizations reflects many of the same challenges faced by other Christian ministries. Cost is a major factor. But, it may be deferred through creative business arrangements . Campus Crusade for Christ International, for example, leases its IBM system, thus avoiding a long term commitment to a machine with limited size . Upgrading may be accomplished when and as needed . Another cost savings approach is used by the Navigators. Data processing personnel note that maintenance charges are often as expensive for smaller systems as with their larger counterparts. In such cases, the larger system that meets the agency's needs more effectively may cost more up front but return a savings over time. Invariably, parachurch organizations are seeking ways to upgrade their equipment. Both Child Evangelism Fellowship and the Christian Schools International are planning for larger systems that will allow database and other new applications . In summary, Christian organizations are computerizing at a faster pace than anyone imagined just five years ago. For now, Christian ministries are increasingly using computers to accomplish age-old tasks. Tomorrow, computers will yield their own new opportunities, changing the face of Christian witness in ways no one can predict. The current challenge is to find the necessary funds to pay for this progress . . Dr. Rex M. Rogers is Assistant Profes- sor of Political Science at Cedarville College. An alumus of Cedarville in 1974, Dr. Rogers continued his educa– tion at the University of Akron, receiv– ing his M.A. degree in 1978 and the Ph .D. degree from the University ofi Cincinnati in 1982. Dr. Rogers is also director of academic computer services at Cedarville.