About a third of all missionaries for Wycliffe Bible Translators use e-mail to communicate daily with friends, family, and supporters back home, according to a recent survey by Wycliffe Bible Translators.
Wycliffe president Bob Creson said he was a little surprised at how much internet access missionaries had, but he wasn't shocked. "One of the people I follow on Twitter posts from remote Uganda," he said. "I get better cell phone coverage in remote parts of the world than I do sometimes at home."
Nearly 70 percent of those surveyed had more than 40 hours per week of Internet access while in the field. Nearly 75 percent of respondents had regular access to high-speed cable or DSL connections.
"Technology is changing both the opportunities and expectations associated with missionary life," said Steve Moore, president and CEO of the Mission Exchange. "With Skype, along with dedicated web pages that stream blogs, videos, and provide email notification when a prayer request is updated, and can operate behind a basic password protected secured site, missionaries have many different ways to keep in touch with their family and supporters."
Grandparents, after managing time zone issues, can use webcams to read stories to their grandchildren and keep visual track of their growth, he said.
More than half of those surveyed said the ability to maintain an online connection to home helps to extend longevity in the field.
"When my wife and I first went to Cameroon back in the 'Dark Ages' of 1987, we had one land line to our center," Creson said. "We had to sign up if we wanted to make phone calls. I remember planning three weeks in advance if we wanted to call our folks."
Missionaries today can e-mail or text their families instantly, and much ...