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The Tech Poverty Fighter

The Tech Poverty Fighter

How Andrew Sears at TechMission harnesses the Web to fuel urban ministry.

"If you ask the average person on the street right now what's changing the world more than anything else, the response will probably be technology," said Andrew Sears. "But Christians often resist technology. We are fighting battles against injustice, but are using antiquated tools. It's like the other side has tanks and jet planes, and Christians are fighting with sticks."

By using internet-based technology to connect people and resources, Sears and the organization he helped found, TechMission, are finding new approaches to overcome systemic poverty in the United States and beyond.

All of this is a far cry from Sears's upbringing in inner-city Kansas City, Missouri. He spent most of his childhood living on the streets because they were safer than his home.

As a teen and self-described hoodlum, he saw the destruction woven into his community and funneled all of his energy toward launching out of it. Upon enrolling at the University of Missouri, he decided that he would make straight As and become student body president—and he did. After graduating as valedictorian, while a graduate student at MIT, he co-founded the Internet Telephony Consortium with one of the "fathers of the Internet," David Clark.

With a proven track record, Sears was on a road to follow Bill Gates. But he woke up from 100-hour workweeks and realized he was on the run. It was at that point the gift of his technological brilliance was combined with a gift of personal and biblical insight. The faith he had embraced in childhood began to take root. During this period, Sears began to deal with scars from an abusive past, and for the first time started imagining how modern technology could be used to overcome poverty in Jesus' name.

Starting with a church-based computer training center at Bruce Wall Ministries in inner-city Boston, Sears saw one provision after another propelling him and his partners forward to use technology to respond to the issues woven into impoverished communities.


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Displaying 1–2 of 2 comments

Rick Dalbey

May 16, 2013  3:58pm

This is NOT Christian ministry. This is social justice activism, preaching a different gospel. TechMission Corps has placed more than 500 full-time interns in Boston, Los Angeles, and Denver in AmeriCorps–type programs primarily focused on educational tutoring for inner-city youth. Can you imagine if they had placed 500 idealistic kids in preaching the gospel or fulfilling the great commission in Boston or Los Angeles? Sears says, "We list our values as Jesus and justice to emphasize both meeting the needs of the whole person and our affiliation with the social justice tradition of the church” Jesus is not a social value. He is the living Savior of the world who rescues from hell, the future of all who refuse to accept Jesus. When Judas realized Jesus was not about income redistribution and relieving global poverty (the perfume worth a years salary was not sold and given to the poor but wasted) He betrayed Jesus and went back to his zealot roots.

Paul Schryba

May 08, 2013  1:58pm

I agree with the overall premise of this article; to use technology to address the issue of poverty. I think we must realize that the 'issue' of 'poverty' is not at heart one of 'economics', but goes to the heart of our awareness and understanding of who we are as human beings. We cannot separate out 'economics' and the material from the environmental (creation), spiritual, social and psychological. It is the very fact that we view 'work' not as sharing of gifts and talents to support ourselves and the community, but as a way to 'make money' to 'survive' that gets to the root of the issue. "You cannot serve God and money." Every human being needs to recognize fact that we are all interconnected, and love and sharing is the only answer. Each of us is both part of the 'problem' and part of the 'solution'. We must begin to turn away from the materialism of the society and live radically different lives, if we are really to address 'poverty'. Creation cannot sustain endless human greed.


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