Since 2007, the Messenger has been a vital part of In Touch Ministries’ efforts to preach the gospel near and far. In countries that have closed their borders to Christians, it has been a missionary. In places where darkness holds sway; it has been a source of light and hope for many.
The original handheld, solar-powered audio device is still changing lives and will for time to come. But its overwhelming success in the field has demonstrated the power of mobile technologies in reaching the world for Christ. It’s also revealed the need for an expanded Messenger strategy. Like the servant entrusted with five talents (Matt. 25:14-30), In Touch is investing what we’ve received into a new initiative—the In Touch Messenger Lab: an international collective of engineers, designers, writers, missionaries, and pastors.
Because no two cultures’ needs are exactly the same, our team—together with strategic ministry partners—is hard at work on prototypes for new devices and other innovative solutions for global discipleship. And some of these are already operational in the field. Here’s our guide to what you need to know about the work we’re doing right now.
The original solar-powered audio player
The Bible is the most precious item in the world, but for those without the ability to read, its treasures remain hidden. That’s one of the reasons the Messenger was created. It contains recordings of the New Testament, Psalms, Proverbs, and some of Dr. Stanley’s messages so everyone can hear the good news loud and clear. Available in 45 languages and counting, it has been distributed on all seven continents to people in more than 130 countries.
In Touch has big plans for our flagship device, including the addition of an FM radio and expandable memory, as well as an LED light.
A wellspring of true refreshment
The LightStream enables us to provide the developing world with the living water of God’s Word. Currently paired with a water purification system, the LightStream allows up to 15 simultaneous users to access and download discipleship resources and public health information and share it with others using Bluetooth technology. It also serves as a charging station and creates a place where the best kind of discipleship—face-to-face conversation—can happen.
The second iteration of the LightStream is in development and will allow us to collect real-time feedback, so we’ll know which messages have been the most popular and how often the content has been shared.
Missionary work with a dash of James Bond
Imagine a busy street in Baghdad. Two men meet on the sidewalk, exchange pleasantries and a quick handshake, and are on their way. This is all it takes to share the gospel, thanks to the In Touch Key.
Available in more than 45 languages, each USB drive contains many of Dr. Stanley’s messages, as well as extra storage for personal files. Plans are in place to add the New Testament and additional languages.
Making mobile phones a tool for the gospel
Smuggling Bibles requires a feat of logistics and a lot of prayer. But now, thanks to the Micro, hundreds of New Testaments can be carried across borders without ever raising suspicion. Most cell phones have a MicroSD card slot, and In Touch is leveraging this abundant technology to share the gospel more rapidly than ever.
As of 2014, more than 7,500 Micros have been distributed in China. Partners there report that as many as 800 people were able to listen to the gospel at one time using this one tiny device.
A library in the palm of a pastor’s hand
Without formal training, dedicated pastors are at a disadvantage.
But the Slate—a seven-inch Android tablet—provides them with a theological resource library. No Internet access required.
The Slate was field-tested during an April 2015 training seminar in Uganda. Bill Loveless, a ministry partner profiled in September’s In Touch devotional, reports a successful first run. His words say it better than ours ever could: “It went like gangbusters.”
Help at a moment’s notice
Year after year, tsunamis crash into coastlines, tornadoes touch down, and mudslides slither down hillsides to bury entire villages. Millions of people are impacted by natural disasters like these. The Pulse can be loaded with customized Messenger content to meet the needs of specific communities after a crisis. Thousands of devices can be loaded and shipped within days to people in need of some good news.
A light when all others go out
Without reliable electricity, light is a precious resource. That’s why the Torch contains a flashlight, lantern, and nightlight, making it an essential tool for people in developing countries. It features the content of a traditional Messenger and a speaker suitable for large audiences, so everyone can gather and listen to God's Word.
The life-changing potential is two-fold thanks to its unique design. Because the Torch is solar powered and has the capacity to charge other devices, it creates a small-business opportunity for its owner, who can trade life essentials for a bit of battery power.
Around the world, people have greater access to cell phones than working toilets. Read about how those phones are the key to spreading the Good News like never before.
Want to know how you can get involved? Find out more about the Messenger Lab project at www.intouch.org/lab.